She is the poster girl for the Right, perfectly decked out. Shiny blond hair. The ultimate façade.
But facades are easy. I can put on a black dress. I can smile. I can make my hair look as long as hers. It proves nothing. What is important is what lies behind the façade.
Will the real Ann Coulter please stand up?
The real Ann Coulter is no beauty queen. It was her comments about the 9-11 widows that pushed me to investigate and to write my latest book.
“I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much,” Coulter has said. And “these women got paid. They ought to take their money and shut up about it.”
Who says things like that? This is who. A woman who said in her first book that the question with respect to President Clinton should be “whether to impeach or assassinate.”
Yes, that’s right.
“If we were a healthier country, that would have been the only question,” she said in an interview, praising the old British system “when the punishment for an impeachment could be a hanging.”
But it is not only Bill Clinton who she wants to see killed.
We need “somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens’ crème brule,” she said, referring to my former boss. John Murtha is the reason “soldiers invented fragging” -- the intentional killing of a member of one’s own unit; and given the opportunity to explain or repudiate the comment, she instead described it as one of her best lines.
“My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is that he did not go to the New York Times building.”
Asked to clarify, she added, “after everyone had left the building except the editors and reporters.”
I teach my children not to make gay jokes. She calls Al Gore a “total fag” and thinks that’s a good joke. There is much, much more.
Patriotism? Those who oppose the war in Iraq “are not only traitors, but gutless traitors.”
Democrats are “gutless little America haters.”
“When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not receiving the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize they can be killed too. Otherwise they will turn out to be traitors too.”
“Even Islamic terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do. They don’t have the energy. If they had that much energy, they ‘d have indoor plumbing by now.”
I didn’t think it was possible for Coulter to get any more vicious or divisive than that. But in her latest book, Godless, she does. Because in addition to calling us traitors, proposing death for our leaders, advocating killing the media, and assorted others, Ann plays the biggest and most dangerous card in the political deck: the religion card.
“Everything liberals believe is in elegant opposition to basic Biblical precepts.”
The Episcopal Church “is barely even a Church.”
“Let us not flinch from identifying liberalism as the opposition party to God.”
It is one thing, a very good thing, to bring Christian values to politics. But are these Christian values?
It is quite another to try to enforce Christianity as the law of the land, and to use religion as a sword to divide people against each other. Look around the world. Haven’t we learned that lesson? What kind of message does it send to our children when someone who calls for poisoning Supreme Court justices, bombing buildings, physically intimidating those who disagree with her, and even assassinating a president is welcomed by every network, given the best forums to spout her hate, the best time slots, and uses them to earn the top spot on the best seller list?
This is not a liberal/conservative issue. It is about returning decency and civility to politics. That is the argument of my new book, Soulless. It doesn’t advocate killing anyone. In the Coulter culture, I’ll be lucky if I get on half as many shows as Ann does, and do half as well. Very lucky. But I’m trying.
Enough is enough. And if enough of us have the guts to say that, liberals and conservatives, we can make a difference.
Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission.
Estrich's books include the just published "Soulless," "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics Is Destroying the Criminal Justice System," "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders," "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women" and "Sex & Power," currently a Los Angeles Times bestseller.
She served as campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' presidential bid, becoming the first woman to head a U.S. presidential campaign. Estrich appears regularly on the FOX News Channel.