Al, Joe and Ann
Having read the relevant sections of both Al Franken's and Joe Conason's new books, I can now precisely place where my discomfort with Conanson's approach comes from.
His book, while it makes a lot of good points, comes off as a moralistic screed against the right, which is fair. But he trips up with his attacks on the sex lives of people. He jumbles hypocracy with adultery and comes off poorly. Ann Coulter has never come out for abstinance or sobriety or born-again Christianity. He then attacks her for having an active sex life and being friends with gay men. Which is a bizarre argument. One would hope that she wasn't serious with her hateful blather, that it was an act like Jenna Jameson's blowjobs or something. The real scam is that she's a secular Jimmy Swaggart. She says what she says but you know it's an act if you want to.
Instead of discretely nailing each of his targets, the loathsome Laura Ingraham, who taunted gays and lost a big assed judgement while at Dartmouth, he blurs them all into one mass and misses the point. Ingraham is loathsome because she harmed people. Coutler is loathsome because she, in the words of Chris Rock "makes shit up".
There is a great argument to be made from Conason's raw facts. Which is this: liberalism has become so deeply ingrained that even its opponents benefit from the lifestyles it has permitted. By redefining the role of women, Coulter and Ingraham were free to be successful commentators, jobs they would have found impossible to get as late as the 1970's. They have benefitted from what they think they despise. It isn't relevant who these women sleep with, nor should it be used against them.
Franken takes the smarter and frankly more relevant approach. He doesn't discuss her. He discusses her work.
In one hillarious exchange, he calls Newsweek's Evan Thomas. Coulter claimed that he was the son of Socialist Presidential candidate Norman Thomas.
He says no, my father's name is Evan Thomas, Sr. I'm Evan Thomas, Jr.
Franken asks, are you sure
He says yes, is this about that Ann Coulter thing?
Franken says yes.
Thomas replies, "You know I think there's something wrong with her".
Simple as that he demolishes her. He doesn't describe her as evil or ask about the men she's fucked. He nails her lunacy in a brief, clever way. He debunks her with facts.
Look, the problem with Coulter is that, as Chris Rock says, "she makes shit up". Franken did note something which I think is highly relevant. She doesn't endorse conservative social stands. She endorses the idea of conservatism. She doesn't attack homosexuals and call for their conversion, but homosexuality. When she talks about Christianity, she would rather be having a beer at a Southhampton beach party than be caught dead with the Roy Moore rock worshiping crowd. Her Christianity isn't the snake handling, jesus praising kind, but a sort of strict thing to keep people in line.
Coulter has a weird rhetorical style. She attacks everything and everyone in what is best described as a human wave of words. She's not interested in facts. She wants to overwhelm you. She as indifferent to facts as Soviet officers were to the fact that some of their men would charge German machine guns without rifles. She's got so many crazy arguments going that even if you shoot one down, she's got others flying at you. She says public schools have failed, not that vouchers are the solution. She says liberals are degenerates, but she doesn't endorse pro-life or abstinance. You're so pissed at her crazy reasoning and arguing, like her defense of Tail Gunner Joe, you miss the fact that she doesn't mention the Venona transcripts about real Soviet spies or that only a tiny minority past 1950 spied for ideology.
It's like fighting with your girlfriend. She's gets you so crazy, you miss the points which would win your argument. So instead of fighting about her forgetting to fill up the gas tank, you're arguing about that old girlfriend and your trip to Cancun, which happened before you met her.
Conason rises to the craziness she brings on and picks a fight over her sex life, which isn't the issue.
Franken looks at her work and demolishes it, which is.
posted by Steve @ 8:04:00 PM