Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America

By: Ann Coulter
Published by: Random House

Ann Coulter has, no doubt, done it again: delighted her fans, enraged her enemies. Come up with some thoughtful insights, and buried them in acid-tongued (though at times extremely funny) narrative.

"Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America" will no doubt be a best-seller, to the tooth-grinding dismay of those who find her politics to the proverbial right of, well, of Rush Limbaugh, for example.

The premise of this book, while it's not the way Coulter would state it, is essentially that she believes liberals to be d**n good at managing PR. According to Coulter, liberals can go on the offensive while convincing the world they are put upon by a powerful, well-oiled Right Wing Smear Machine. They distort history, manipulate the press (or more appropriately, have successfully infiltrated the press to such an extent there is no free press left), commit most of the scandalous deeds while crying "scandal"  most loudly, and seem to be capable of selling us that black is white, white is black, and it's all George Bush's fault.

All in all, these guys would make one fine PR firm, and should give up the politics and go into business.

Hyperbole aside, as usual, Coulter makes some good points. I've often considered writing a watered down version of her books, because I think that some of the points she makes really do deserve a hearing. It's just that those who most need to hear what she has to say are the very ones who will never get past the sarcastic humor. And perhaps, even, use the offense they like to take at it to avoid engaging with her better observations.

So, to get her points in front of you, without affronting you, here is my middle of the road rendering of Ann Coulter's latest.

Chapter 1: Speaking Loudly and Carry a Small Victim
A lot of groups these days like to be offended. As many weaker classes have long known, there is a power in victimhood. In fact, it is often possible to be a bully while insisting one is a victim. Moreover, we are, bit by bit, separating ourselves into two classes (which have fluid individuals components): oppressors and victims. Since people have learned that there is power in victimhood, and since the role of  "oppressor" is about as popular as being a rabid skunk, people almost enjoy getting to be a victim of something. Oppressors end up having to pay off, settle with, and calm down the victims. The victims may initially feel as though they have been compensated for the unimaginable wrongs done to them, but in truth, more harm is being done to them in the long run by paying them off.

Typical Ann Quote: "Liberals live in a world in which everyone is either an oppressor or a victim. In this rather extreme morality play, they control the casting: They are always the victims, and conservatives are always the oppressors. These dramatic productions are brought to you by network television, the New York Times, and NPR, with the Greek chorus backing them up on cable. The plots are so well known that liberals of various stripes have memorized their parts and take the stage eagerly, hoping to deliver a best-supporting actor performance, for which they might win, say, a Pulitzer, a university chair, or a Sunday morning interview with Tom Brokaw."

Chapter 2: Victim of a Crime? Thank a Single Mother

Ann starts this chapter with this observation: "They most worshipped figure in modern America is 'the single mother.'"

She goes on to suggest that whereas single mothers in the 1800s were usually so because of the death of a husband, single mothers are so today by choice.  She says single mothers who are single mothers by virtue of death or divorce are not single mothers, but are divorced parents, or widows. Single mothers are the ones who chose to have babies without benefit of marriage or an involved father.

She quotes some very disturbing statistics which indicate that children born to single moms start life out at a disadvantage - they are more likely to commit crime, less likely to finish school, more likely to end up in poverty themselves.

She says, "Is it cruel to describe the life chances single mothers are giving their children? How about compared with actually doing that to children at a rate of about 1.5 million a year?"

It is true that 100 years ago, a woman who gave birth to a baby outside of wedlock had a tough road ahead. She had all the problems single mothers have today, and she had social opprobrium. Today, suggests Ann, women are not only not disapproved of, they are lionized.

We have been told that poverty breeds illegitimacy. Yet after years of throwing money at the problem, the illegitimacy rate has gone up by more than 300 percent since 1970. Despite the programs offered to protect and advance these children, the disadvantages they suffer are just as bad as, if not worse than, they ever were.

Coulter cites statistics that indicate that while the children of single moms face a raft of harsh challenges, these same children, when adopted, do as well as, if not better than, their peers of all kinds.

Coulter's conclusion is that there is a Liberal desire, stated or implied, to eliminate the family as the basis of society, and replace it with the single mother, supported by "the village."

Typical Coulter Quote: "To eliminate the pain of illegitimacy, liberals set out to destroy the stigma attached to illegitimacy, rather than to reduce its incidence. They turned a small problem into a national crisis by attacking laws that supported the idea that children should be born within marriage."

Chapter 3: Rage Against Our Machine

"After Global Warming, the Republican Attack Machine is the imaginary phenomenon that scares liberals the most."

Coulter suggests that this notion of a modern day conservative petard is an invention of the left which, like the Boogey Man, serves to both demonize the right, and keep the left in line by virtue of the fear it engenders.

The truth is, of course, both political parties, and both the liberal and conservative wings of these parties, have been guilty of dirty tricks and smears.

But according to Coulter, in recent years the left has perfected the art form, with a subtle, new approach: even if the right hasn't said anything (yet), if we say they're going to say something and stress how fearful we are of the damage they're going to do, then they don't dare say anything for fear of looking like bullies.

She says that the left marks it a badge of honor to be the "biggest victim" of the Attack Machine. But she also suggests that the left will turn on and eat its young if needed. For a long time, she writes, the Clintons were the victims of choice - the vast right wing conspiracy that was out to get Bill, and then there was the notorious punishment of candidate Hillary.

Then, writes Coulter, when Obama emerged, this same liberal press began to "tell the truth about him (Bill Clinton)."

Citing an article in Vanity Fair, she quotes the article talking about Clinton's "cavernous narcissism," his "blowups at televisions reporters, " his cheating at golf, and his "repellent grandiosity."

Now, says Coulter, it is Obama whom the MSM will portray as the victim of savage Right-wing attacks. She quotes several reporters who suggest that Obama will be facing an "onslaught" from Republicans as he assumes the candidacy of his party (as if this were something odd in an election), and she suggests that, in fact, this same press soft-balled their questions to Obama, while portraying him as the subject of unfair attacks by the Right.

Typical Coulter Quote: "The most amazing thing liberals have done is create the myth of a compliant right-wing media with Republicans badgering baffled reporters into attacking Democrats. It's so mad, it's brilliant."

Chapter 3: Witless Witnesses to History

The logic behind this chapter was the hardest to fathom. In essence, Coulter suggests that because so many Republicans have written "backstabbing books" about their former bosses, there can't be a very good Republican Attack Machine at work.

She says that Democrats hold to the myths of their candidates and elected officials in the face of masses of evidence to the contrary (and she goes into a lot of detail about JFK here), but that Republicans flip for little reason at all - unless we can assume it's for the money.

Typical Coulter Quote: "Republicans flip to cash in, with book deal after book deal. Whether or not hte books ever sell, lickspittles turning on a Republican president will be embraced by the establishment media, if only briefly, like the prodigal son coming home."

Chapter 5: They Got the Sex, We Got the Scandal

In this chapter, Coulter suggests that Republicans are tarred and feathered for the appearance of impropriety, but it's the Democrats who are actually committing the improprieties. She cites the case of Jack Ryan,  Obama's Republican challenger for the Senate, who was divorced from Jeri Lynn Ryan, an actress who appeared in Star Trek: Voyager. In their (sealed) divorce papers, she alleged that he wanted to have sex with her at an adults-only club.

Both parties to the divorce wanted the papers sealed - Jeri Lynn had a stalker, and they had an autistic child they wanted protected. But the papers were opened in the name of disclosure in the campaign. Ryan was dumped as the Republican candidate.

Coulter's thesis is that whereas a Republican candidate is ruined by virtue of wanting to have sex with his wife (under whatever sleazy circumstances), Democrats (such as JFK, Clinton, Jonathan Edwards and Teddy Kennedy) get away with notorious sexcapades, wherein, even if they do get punished (like Edwards), they at least had the sex.

Typical Coulter Quote: "Let's count. George Allen is gone (said "macaca"). Jack Ryan is gone (allegedly propositioned his wife.). Mark Foley is gone (sent inappropriate e-mails to pages). Tom Delay is gone (raised campaign money legally). Needless to say, any Republicans who broke actual laws are gone, gone, gone.

"Meanwhile, Democrats are utterly unabashed about Senator Teddy Kennedy (killed a girl), Bill Clinton (flashed an employee, molested an intern, and perjured himself about both incidents), William "Refrigerator" Jefferson (had $90,000 in bribe money hidden in his freezer), Sandy Berger (stole and then destroyed classified national security documents relevant to 9/11), Barney Frank (homosexual prostitute ran a call-boy ring from Frank's house), John Edwards (cheated on cancer-stricken wife), and Joe Biden (made comments about Indians one thousand times more offensive than Allen's nonsense word)."

Chapter 6: When 95 Percent World Domination Just Isn't Enough...

This chapter is all about what the press chooses to cover, and how it chooses to cover it. According to Coulter, the press chooses to cover stories the flatter the left and damn the right. When the story is basically the same but starring a liberal, the liberal will be portrayed as doing good; when it stars a conservative, the conservative will be portrayed as doing bad. 

This chapter also describes the phenomenon by which the press acquits itself of having to run a story sympathetic with Right-wing sensibilities by beating itself up for having "overdone it." For example, the Times mused that perhaps there had been too much coverage of 9/11, saying that "fatigue arises, " and "many people feel that the collective commemorations, publicly staged, are excessive and vacant, even annoying."

The obverse of that is the trick of pushing a story that is getting a lot of coverage by suggesting that "nobody is covering it." So, the Halliburton and Harken Energy stories, Abu ghraib, and the Augusta National Golf Club's refusal to admit women members are all stories that the mainstream media claimed weren't getting enough attention in the mainstream media, even though, says Coulter, I dare you to find me an American who doesn't know what Halliburton is. She has a point.

Typical Coulter Quote: "Two weeks after 9/12, the Times had editorialized that "Washington and its allies must also disable the financial networks used by terrorists." It said that "much more is needed" than what the Bush administration had planned... But once liberals calmed down and started going to Anna Wintour parties again, they lost all interest in terrorists. Indeed, they forgot there had ever been a terrorist attack."

Chapter 7: Brave, Beautiful Liberals

In this chapter, we learn that liberals like to be portrayed as brave and beautiful. Well, who doesn't?

Coulter suggests that between the press and a wide variety of awards ceremonies, the liberals just get many more opportunities than the conservatives to be so portrayed.

Coulter says that it didn't matter what a liberal press pet like, for example, Barack Obama, did - it would be portrayed as brave and beautiful.

If he broke a campaign pledge and rejected public campaign financing, rather than simply stating that fact, or perhaps expressing disappointment, the Times wrote, "Citing the specter of attacks from independent groups to the right, Senator Barack Obama announced Thursday that he would opt out of the public financing system for the general election." Says Coulter: "So he had to break his pledge! It was the Republican's fault."

"Liberals," she says, "are described as Adonis and Helen of Troy, while conservatives are described as dog food."

Coulter, an accomplished Lexis-Nexis pro, gives us a list of words used to describe otherwise very similar women of the Right and the Left: "Liberals are intelligent, conservatives are bookish; liberals are bubbly, conservatives are airheads; liberals are slender, conservatives are rail-thin; liberals are passionate, conservatives are angry; liberals are good with children, conservatives are suspected pedophiles." (You can usually figure that the last phrase or sentence in a Coulter thesis is not true and said for humor.)

Moreover, if a Republican clearly breaks the mold and edges into Democrat territory, he's likely to be savaged. Typically, Democrat women are given kudos for their sense of style (witness Michele Obama); Republicans "wear plain, cloth Republican" clothes. Nancy Reagan was a bit of a clothes horse, who favored (like Jackie Kennedy) designer duds. Rather than treating her as they did Jackie, Nancy Reagan was held to task for spending money while programs for the poor were being cut. (Evidently, it's ok to spend the money as long as the programs for the poor aren't being cut.)

Coulter rails against the notion that a nearly $400,000 a year job is "passing up a lucrative private sector job to work in public service," (a la Michele Obama), and the idea that Ted Kennedy, who gave barely 1 percent of his sizable income to charity, in any way demonstrates as much concern for the poor as George W. Bush, who offered up more than 10% of his (much less substantial income) in that same year.

Typical Coulter Quote: "OK magazine raved that the Obamas "are such an all-American family that they almost make the Brady Bunch look dysfunctional." Yes, who can forget the madcap episode when the Bradys' wacky preacher tells them the government created AIDS to kill blacks! Still gushing, OK magazine's crack journalists reported, "Mom goes to bake sales, dad balances the checkbook, and the girls love Harry Potter" - and then the whole family goes to a racist huckster bellowing, 'God damn America!'"

As I noted in the beginning, Coulter won't win any fans with this book, though it is a little more low-key than some of her others. But she will sell books, and she will ignite discussions that will keep the talking heads talking until the next bright, shiny object catches their attention.



E. L. Fay said…
Huh. You're right: it does look like Coulter raises some very good points. I consider myself a moderate conservative, but her caustic personality and penchant for ridiculous statements has always repelled me. Based on your review, however, I just might pick this one up.

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