The Dogs Bark, The Caravan Moves On
Did you hear the one about how Ann Coulter got destroyed the other night at the Rob Lowe Roast on Comedy Central? Well, maybe. In a minute I’ll provide a verbatim transcript and you can decide for yourself…
I have an affinity for Ann Coulter. We grew up in the same New England hamlet of New Canaan, Connecticut, a place slightly less self-consciously upper-crust as neighboring Greenwich, or as proudly artsy as Westport next door, but it’s always had a bit of a tweedy reputation dating back to the days when Maxwell Perkins was living there editing F. Scott Fitzgerald. Currently it’s the habitat of any number of hedge fund managers and their over-privileged offspring, as well as Joe Scarborough and, before his move to Texas, Glenn Beck. Coulter conjures for me pleasant reminders of the bright, stylish young women typical of New Canaan High. She has the same snarky, tongue-in-cheek confidence and attractive fearlessness that is seemingly acculturated into a lot of the women from that neck of the woods. She’s smart and she knows it, and maybe it’s something she picked up as an avowed, long term Deadhead, but she’s perfected the well-polished aura of not giving a s__t, flamboyantly and unashamedly so. Plus, she reminds me of my beautiful, six foot tall sister. (That may explain in part my strong reaction to Coulter’s treatment on the Comedy Central show.)
There’s another reason, too: I have actually read her books—meaning I have read her actual books, rather than the Media Matters synopses or the left-wing hit-jobs designed to paint her as unhinged, mean and nasty, racist, bigoted, myopic and, above all, wrong, all while caroming off the substance of her writing by spotlighting peripherals and “optics”.
One of the nice things about reading her books—the actual ones—is that you learn stuff. She researches things extensively, footnotes them thoroughly, and writes about them engagingly, informatively and sometimes elegantly—often, funnily, too, and that’s a bonus. As just one example, if you should have a curious young person come up and ask you what the difference was between the American Revolution and the French Revolution, as in, what the heck happened over there, anyway?—you could do no better that to point them in the direction of her superb, accessible and even riveting historical explication in Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America.
You don't hear a lot about the large amount of new information that has come out about Joe McCarthy and that whole era—like, for example, how he might have been a lot more right about things than anyone knew for a long time—but if you read Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, you’ll find precise, compelling reporting on that new information, as well as analysis as to why, yet and still, most of this is little known. (Spoiler alert: It’s because it doesn’t fit the narrative.)
So far, none of this would explain why in certain circles—circles that include everyone on the left side of the political spectrum and not a few on the right—she is profoundly, passionately detested.
Much of that enmity—maybe just about all of it—comes from what people say she says. That is, it comes not from what she actually says, but from what people say she says, a phenomenon now sadly commonplace and widespread. For example, who could like someone who says the women who lost their loved ones at the World Trade Center were enjoying their husband’s deaths? Or that Judaism is such a crappy religion (you know, the religion made up by Jews) that it needs to be “perfected” by Christianity—which, incidentally, would take care of things in the Middle East if we simply went over there and, at gunpoint, forced them to become Episcopalians or Southern Baptists. (Can I get an “Amen”?) Stoking the outrage necessitates ignoring the age-old Christian (and, for that matter Judaic) understanding that the “perfecting” referred to actually means “completing” as in fulfilling magnificent Old Testament promises, and her tongue-in-cheek suggestion to convert Muslims to Christianity is a melodramatic way of making the point that it is historically difficult to establish popular democracy in any nation not founded on Judeo-Christian principles. In those countries thusly based it seems to work; in other countries it seems to not. Yes, we can argue about whether Japan has a large enough strain of Christianity to conform to this theory, or whether Athens was a real democracy, but, whatever the case, Coulter’s contention was an in-your-face discussion-starter, not a felony, and, by the way, maybe we ought to have that very discussion before we expend several trillion dollars and who-knows-how-many young American lives trying to jam democracy down the throats of a people whose fundamental belief system has shown itself to render the effort likely to be doomed from the start.
Her books follow a pattern, as does the reaction to them. They all have two parts: the foundational information and then the conclusions she draws from that information, often in the form of an opinion. But here’s the interesting thing, also part of the pattern: it is never her foundational, meticulously documented information that is attacked, it is always the conclusions she draws from it that are assailed, and that is done, coming full circle, in order to discredit the foundational information which is, otherwise, and to the dismay of those who would wish it were not so (or at least not pointed out) rock-solid.
Take the 9-11 wives. Coulter was attempting to limn a rather under-handed debating technique often used by the left, which is to recruit a messenger with a sympathetic personal story to be the front person for partisan—and highly debatable—postulates, thereby making it impossible to mount a counter attack to those postulates without being castigated for being callous towards the plight—and therefore the standing—of the designated messenger. The 9-11 wives had been selected for that purpose, they were doing a good job of it, immunized by their tragic circumstances from the possibility of any political push-back, and accordingly, were rewarded by the warm embrace of the Establishment Left, which includes the media. It was that warm embrace that Coulter said they were “enjoying”, but, in order to neutralize her very valid premise, it was claimed that she said the wives were enjoying not their new-found celebrity and widespread adulation—but the death of their husbands, and that, then, took up all the available oxygen.
But Coulter was right when she pointed out at that time that the left was using human shields to do their dirty work and she remained right when the exact same technique was used recently at the Democratic convention as they exploited the agonizingly bereaved Mr. and Mrs Khan, ushering them to center stage for the purpose of waving a pocket constitution in the face of Donald Trump. Whether Trump’s positions on immigration are legally unconstitutional is a matter for debate—legitimate debate—but you’re not allowed to have that debate when one side’s banner is carried by individuals who are understandably and properly exempt from being engaged on that issue or any other. It’s a stunt, at the expense of legitimately suffering individuals, and the expense of the other side having a chance to be heard (which is, of course, the whole idea.)
She makes little effort to counter the most common charge—that she’s only in in for the money, that she’s a calculating controversialist out to stir the pot for its own sake—in fact, she embraces it, and I think I can guess why: it serves as a protective carapace, allowing her to take the stance that no, you can’t hurt me, because I’m too busy going to the bank.
I don’t believe it. I think she believes passionately in what she’s doing, cares deeply, and bleeds red like the rest of us. That she continues on despite the arrows is seen by some as a sign of determined, crass venality: go for the gold no matter what. I don’t see it that way, maybe because I don’t see the other women I know from New Canaan that way, and I don’t see my sister that way. I see it as the right stuff, in all its complexity, and a kind of toughness that sometimes gets elevated to the point where it’s hard not to call it courage. But that’s just me...
Some say Coulter’s penultimate book, Adios America, helped form some of Trump’s now infamous “rapists and drug dealers” speech that launched his presidential campaign. The book is like all her books: a tremendous amount of well-documented research cogently presented, and then some conclusions and opinions about it. She gives a history lesson on Ted Kennedy’s 1965 push for a sea-change in U.S. Immigration policy whose proponents adamantly denied that it was intended to produce the results that it has now gone on to produce, exactly. She describes why it is extremely difficult to determine the extent of Hispanic crime, and some of the efforts made to keep it that way. At no time does she fail to acknowledge and applaud the contributions made by many legal immigrants, but guess what? There is a high incidence of gangsters raping women trying to cross the border and drug dealers filtering in to ply their trade. But no one—certainly not Ann Coulter and not even Donald Trump with his all-thumbs rhetorical bumbling and carelessness—ever remotely made the claim that “all Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers”. That’s not what either of them said, it’s just what people say they said for the purpose of having them discounted, dismissed and, as a bonus, vilified.
Which brings us to the rather rough time of it Ann Coulter had on the Comedy Central Rob Lowe Roast the other night. Some say, well, it’s in the nature of these things to be biting, going for the soft spot, all in the name of rough and tumble comedy; that, in the end, it’s all in good fun, and Coulter got pretty much what she should have expected, no more or less hard-hitting than anyone else.
Others say, no, this was something entirely different, something ugly; something unfair. Indeed, in an appearance afterwards on Dennis Prager’s radio show, when asked about it, she was unable to completely suppress an emotional reaction, and said that, “The one thing I’m glad of is that my parents aren’t around.”
To help you decide for yourself, then, here are all the “jokes” (you’ll see why I’m using scare quotes in a minute…) that were directed that night at Ann Coulter. These are all of them, every one. See what you think. (Warning: to say that some of these are obscene is insufficient.)
I'll provide a link to the full video at the end, but, for now, take a look at these and ask yourself as you go along whether any if it should find an appropriate place under the column header “funny”.
David Spade Diminutive SNL alum AKA Joe Dirt:
Is Pete [Davidson] white, is he black? Ann Coulter needs to know so she can decide if she hates him.
Pete Davidson Lost his firefighter dad on 9011. Spent all evening histrionically virtue signaling:
Ann Coulter, if you’re here, who’s scaring the crows away from the crops? You know, Ann describes herself as a polemicist, but most people call her a c__t. You know, last year we had Martha Stewart who sells sheets, and now we have Ann Coulter who cuts eye holes in them.
Rob Riggle Ex-career-marine guy turned comedian:
Ann Coulter is here, which can mean only one thing. Someone must have said her name three times: Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice. Fun fact: Ann Coulter has a big, angry bush. No joke, that’s just a fun fact...
[Tturns attention to Rob Lowe and makes reference to Kennedy assassination and the grassy knoll]
…but not as grassy as Ann Coulter’s big, angry bush! Instant callback!
[Back to Rob Lowe and how he’s literally had sex with everyone in the room]
…except Ann Coulter because her bush is literally too angry—three! Yes! Three-peat! Yes, it’s a three-peat! They said I couldn’t do it. But I did it—I nailed Ann Coulter’s bush three times!
Jewel Syrupy pop singer enjoyed, inexplicably, by some:
I do want to say first of all, as a feminist I can’t support everything that’s being said up here tonight. But as somebody that hates Ann Coulter, I’m delighted. Jeff Ross is going to party like it’s 1999; Ann Coulter is going to vote like it’s 1899. Ann, you do look great though; you’re almost as thin as Donald Trump’s chances of winning the election, so that’s good. Actually, you wouldn’t believe this; this is really a small world because last week I was behind Ann Coulter in line at Chipotle, and she ordered something to go: the entire kitchen staff. She was, like, leave…the country. What’s weird is, believe it or not, gay men love Ann Coulter. It’s because two seconds into hearing her speak, they remember why they hate p___y.
Jimmy Carr Cookie-cutter British stand-up twit:
Ann Coulter; here we go…Ann Coulter is one if the most repugnant, hateful, hatchet-faced bitches alive—but it’s not too late to change, Ann: You could kill yourself. Ann Coulter looks so much like a truck stop transvestite whore that I saw Jeff Ross run to an ATM just before the show. Ann Coulter’s p___y is now so old and dry that it just got a job drawing cartoons for the New Yorker.
Peyton Manning Yep, that one:
I just realized that I am not the only athlete up here tonight. As you all know, earlier this year Ann Coulter won the Kentucky derby. [Good for you, Peyton: Intentional grounding.]
Nikki Glaser Widely unknown stand-up comic with a new show on Comedy Central (which explains her appearance here):
Oh, Ann, what’s it like to be a real life super-villain? I’d ask you how you sleep at night, but I’d assume just upside down in a robe of a hundred and one Dalmatians. Ann Coulter has written eleven books, twelve if you count Mein Kampf. Ann’s been called things like a racist, antisemitic, homophobic, white supremacist—and that’s just while getting plowed by Bill Maher. The only person you’ll ever make happy is the Mexican who digs your grave… at least I acknowledge the holocaust: Ann doesn’t even think it happened.
Ralph Macchio You know, the Karate Kid:
Ann Coulter, I’m glad to see you here, Ann; I respect you. You’re the one female commentator who’s not afraid to stand up…to take a leak.
Here’s Spade introducing Coulter:
All right, Guys, and now a real treat for fans of hate-watching. Ann Coulter’s coming up. Ann hopes the Republicans can hold on to the House so she can continue to haunt it. She seems stiff and conservative, but Ann gets wild in the sheets—just ask the Klan. It looks like she’s having a good time: I haven’t seen you laugh this hard since Trayvon Martin got shot.
For her part, Coulter rejected the jokes that were given to her, in favor of her own. After an extremely ill-considered racial play on David Spade’s last name, she delivered a routine that was by no means more unfunny than her predecessor’s, arguably contained a couple of chuckle-worthy bon mots, but was met with discomfiting, awkward crickets, and, as the cameras panned the audience, it was clear that the primary goal of most was to signal via their pained facial expressions the proper amount of revulsion demanded by the circumstances, those circumstances being the person of Ann Coulter. (Coulter claims Comedy Central editing the tape to give a false impression that self-written jokes bombed.)
Here, for example, is a screen shot of the Schwarzenegger contingent during Coulter’s turn at the lectern, making sure the world knows exactly what they think of the likes of her and the horse she rode in on:
Jeff Ross Slovenly career roast hoster:
Ann, what happened? You wrote eleven books, but you couldn’t write a single f__k’n joke? Ann, you have a face that would make doves cry. This is hard. How do I roast somebody from hell…bitch! Uh, and that voice, ugh. It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard inside an inner-city school you want to defund… Don’t stare at me with that roasting bitch face. Ann’s against gay marriage. What’s your thinking on that? If I can’t get a husband, they shouldn’t either?
Rob Lowe I had hopes for this one. Lowe has written a couple of memoirs that are thoughtful and interesting, breezy, yes, but fun and worth the time. Also, he’s been sober for 26 years, and you don’t do that without a pretty firm grasp on the notion of humility. I’m thinking maybe he’ll find a way to be funny without being a tool:
It’s 56 days to Halloween, but I see that Ann Coulter’s already in her skeleton costume. People ask, why is Ann Coulter here tonight? Answer: Because the Right to Lifers wanted everyone to see what an abortion looks like up close. And you know, Ann, after seeing your set tonight I think we’ve all witnessed the first bombing you can’t blame on a Muslim.
That’s it. That’s the wit and wisdom of the Hollywood left, the product of a whole team of writers (here are two of the geniuses paid to write this stuff), every one of whom no doubt considers himself or herself to be one of the good guys, deploying their great, elevated humor in the service of exposing the bad guys, and there can be no mistaking it: Ann Coulter is one of the bad guys. That is all ye know and all ye need to know.
Funny? It might surprise you to know that the audience found this loutish, inane, unrelenting attack on Coulter uproarious, greeting it with foot-stamping, hand-clapping glee. Bread and circuses in the age of Twitter. Here’s the full video. Interestingly, the jokes aimed at the other people on the dais, other than Coulter, had to contain at least some small amount of cleverness or intelligent word play to be funny to this audience of like-minded trolls: the ones aimed at Ann Coulter did not. To prompt delight, they needed simply to be vicious and condescending and smug, no matter how utterly witless.
A couple of years ago I had occasion to speak briefly with Coulter at a book signing. She was gracious and engaging as we exchanged some shared recollections of our mutual hometown, and then I told her how much I admired the eulogy she had written for her mother. If you are unfamiliar with it, you might find its heartfelt eloquence affecting and surprising. It is spare and lovely and strong. You come to understand that the steeliness and fearlessness that some see in her and admire, and which others find off-putting and crass, is, in part, a legacy; and, too, that it forms only a part of the whole, and maybe the least part.
I asked her if she had thought about turning her efforts to something other than things political, if she had thought about other types of writing, things perhaps at a distance from the fray, where some say truth and art can occasionally reside. She said that, yes, she had thought about that. I told her I wished she would, that I would love to read such things, to see where they would go, and how she would get there, and what would be there, finally.
She laughed and said, “Well, maybe I will,” and that was the end of our conversation, the last I remember of it, but I have thought of it on occasion since, and I retain the same hope, especially when I see this fine, smart woman used as a piñata by those who are so abjectly her inferior.
Coulter doesn’t need me or anyone else to stick up for her, lord knows. She’s demonstrated ample resilience over the years, always gives as good as she gets, and knows the rules of the game (which appear to be no rules at all, save don’t get blood on the carpet…)
But witnessing things like this, as well as such things as the never-ending savaging of people like Sarah Palin—to what end, at this point, Lord only knows—makes you wonder if it isn’t time to figure out a way to get these coddled, culturally protected, self-anointed ministers of truth to maybe back the heck off. Maybe there should be a downside of some sort—any sort, fair minded and proportionate, but stiff and meaningful—for cavalierly tossing words like racist, bigot and KKK at real, live human beings whose only cause for being perceived as deserving such outrageous slanders, flung at them with no more thought or effort than changing the channel on the remote, is their disagreement with the prevailing left wing worldview. Maybe some old-fashioned public shaming is in order. No, no, I’m not talking about censorship of any sort. I’m simply saying that while I understand that these people are the most enlightened, compassionate and brainy who ever lived, kind, caring, empathetic as all get out, evolved and superior, gladiators for justice, ever on the the right side of history and the bright side of humanity, while I understand all that—I’m simply saying maybe they ought to think about adding to their list of self-appointed, self-congratulatory personal superlatives a little common decency. You know, just for laughs…
# # #
Photo of Ann Coulter: Commons / Screen Capture of family: Comedy Central