Ann Coulter Too Far?

By now you have probably heard about Ann Coulter's use of the word "faggot" in connection with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. Anyone who watches cable news is accustomed to her political bomb-throwing. It is how she makes her living.

It hurts me to say this because I usually find Ms. Coulter very entertaining, but I think she went too far this time. It is quite possible to present the truth forcefully, and humorously, without using language that hurts people. Ann herself does it all the time. Why she chose to cross the line this time is a mystery.

The real question is whether statements like this help or hurt the cause of truth? While it is safe to assume that the audience at CPAC did not include very many Edwards supporters, the media was abundantly present and all the speakers knew their words would be national news. Now, did Ann Coulter's speech convince any Edwards supporters to reconsider? Did any young liberals say "you know, maybe she's right, this guy is kind of swishy. Let's take a look at Mitt Romney?" I don't think so.

Conversely, were any conservatives on the fence about whether they liked Edwards? Was it really necessary to convince the CPAC audience not to support him? No, not at all. Now there might have been value in exposing the vacuity of Edwards policy positions. That would have been better than the personal attack. But it's not what Ms. Coulter did.

So what do statements like this really accomplish? They serve mainly as entertainment. Ann Coulter gets paid well to make speeches like this, just as actors and athletes make big bucks with their own skills. That's fine for Ms. Coulter's bank account, but let's not kid ourselves about it being helpful to the cause. It's not.

The controversy also served to give Edwards a new fund-raising pitch. Whatever motivational value there may have been for conservatives in this will be offset by equal motivation on the other side. We all got a good laugh out of it. Otherwise, it's a wash.

Ms. Coulter drops bombs like this periodically and after some initial controversy always comes back as strong as ever. She will probably do so again this time. Someday she will go too far and not be able to recover. It may already be starting. That will be a shame because she can be a powerful, effective voice for conservative causes. I hope she will reconsider and return to the amusing and incisive style that originally brought her to fame.

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