I have never been much of an Ann Coulter fan. I tend to prefer substantive argument to flame-throwing. There is plenty of very substantive conservative political argument around. Some of it has appeared on this website the last four years.
There is a history with Coulter of making comments on some radio or cable TV interview program that offend some group or individual pretty much every time she has a new book to sell. For an author who likes to be in your face, such provocation, with the resulting publicity frenzy that accompanies such statements, is undoubtedly good for promoting book sales to her loyal base.
The issue with Coulter is not whether she can sell books, but whether she helps or hurts the side of the political debate she claims to support. In my opinion, Coulter has never been a big help to the effort to build a conservative and Republican majority. Her most recent comments on the relationship of Christianity to Judaism, made on the CNBC show " The Big Idea" with Donnie Deutsch on Monday of this week , may prove particularly damaging.
I say this in part based on the number of emails I have received today from Jews, many of whom I have been working with for years to consider switching to the GOP, given President Bush's very strong record of support for Israel, and the much stronger commitment to national security on the GOP side of the aisle. If a strong US-Israel relationship and promoting a tough American response to the global jihad are the main issues that move you, then the GOP should be your party.
So to get back to medieval arguments that Judaism has been replaced by Christianity (a replacement theology), and that Christians are the perfected Jews, and that Jews need to become Christians to be perfect, and that America would be better if we were all Christians, ignores the shift in thinking on these issues among Christians in recent decades, especially among Catholics. The Pope has called Jews our "elder brothers".
Coulter appears to either be unaware of much of modern Christian theology, or just prefers to slap down the non-Christians for their imperfection. . While Coulter calls for all to join her religious ranks, evangelical Christians and Jews have become allies in support of Israel, and shown that clear theological differences between the groups can be respected, and common causes can be advanced.
And of course it offends, which is Coulter's trademark.
Dennis Prager has written that most conservatives think liberals are misguided, but not necessarily bad people. But many on the left think conservatives are simply bad people -- greedy, racist, war mongering, intolerant. Liberals think they are better people than conservatives, not just that they have better ideas. Coulter is one of those on the right who has adopted the mindset and techniques of the left in terms of how she deals with her political opponents.
At a time when party affiliation is fraying and a third of Americans consider themselves independent, to build a majority of 50% plus one requires persuasion. Independents will not accept all parts of either party's platform or approach but will choose a candidate for office based on which issues matter to them, and whether one or the other party connects with them on those issues. It is a skill to disagree at times without being disagreeable. Ronald Reagan had it, and it is one of the reasons he became so popular and patched together a large winning coalition . Coulter has decided there is no economic advantage for her in this approach.
It is clear that not only Jews may be repelled by Coulter's most recent comments. And it is also clear that the Coulter story has legs. Predictably, partisan groups like the NJDC quickly went after Coulter to make her a poster child for the right.
I am on the right, and Coulter is not my poster child, and I would not want to be in the kind of America that Coulter believes would be perfect. I believe that Western societies are under siege from a jihadist camp espousing a medieval brand of Islam that believes it must be supreme everywhere. Most Jews and Christians, and some Muslims understand the threat.
Maybe she could have made a comment showing she understands that struggle. But I think Coulter prefers to be the focus of attention and sell books. Building alliances, and winning elections is clearly secondary, if it is of any interest at all to her. Richard Baehr is political director of American Thinker