Guest Blogged by Daniel Borchers of Citizens for Principled Conservatism
"Has Ann Coulter reached her tipping point?"
Recent Coulter no-shows at high-profile events and the scrubbing of several of her recent appearances from the video collections of conservative events seems to suggest the Republican superstar could finally be in her "last throes."
The tipping point question begs the fence-sitting answer: When will conservatives make a choice and stand for principles? Are they, or are they not, Ann Coulter Conservatives? If not, why is she still among us at all?
Does Coulter represent conservatives or not? Is she a serious political and moral authority or merely an entertainer? Which is it? And why, oh why, is she held to lower standards than anyone else?
As the Wall Street Journal observed in 2002:
Coulter seems to believe she rests secure as a celebrated conservative icon. In the immediate wake of her CPAC and RAC comments, Coulter laughed off concerns that her latest offensive statements would have any affect on her Republican celebrity stature, when she asserted on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes: "This is my 17th allegedly career-ending moment."
Why is Coulter so certain of her solid position as a mainstay and opinion leader in the conservative movement? Is it merely bombast or does her boast have merit? An exchange on C-Span’s Washington Journal is revealing. A caller questioned David Keene, the person with the final say on all things related to CPAC...
KEENE: I don’t think anybody embodies the conservative way of thinking. … Ann Coulter is more, in some ways, a political entertainer than a political philosopher. …
HOST: Was she inappropriate?
KEENE: I, I, you know, I think that, uh, I wouldn’t have said some of the things she said. She’s a, she’s more an entertainer in many ways, and, ah, and, ah, than anything else, and whether it was appropriate or not is something that people who listen to entertainers will have to judge.
HOST: Do you think she needs to apologize for anything?
KEENE: That’s between her and the folks that she, that she takes digs at.
HOST: But it was your event.
KEENE: … We provide the platform. … I’m not going to get into the business of saying you should say this, you should say that, I’m going to make you apologize for that. That’s between them and whoever they, they argue with.
Keene, the person in charge of CPAC, refused to take a stand on whether Coulter’s comments were inappropriate. Keene further refused to offer an apology for anything that happened at his event. CPAC even issued an unprecedented press release as a damage control measure.
"Ann Coulter is known for comments that can be both provocative and outrageous. That was certainly the case in her 2007 CPAC appearance and previous ones as well. But as a point of clarification, let me make it clear that ACU and CPAC do not condone or endorse the use of hate speech," said David A. Keene, ACU Chairman.
Nevertheless, pressure is mounting from all sides. Conservatives with a conscience have called for banishing from future conferences, newspapers have dropped Coulter’s column, and advertisers have withdrawn revenue from Coulter’s website.
As we reported previously, the sponsors for the Reclaiming America for Christ (RAC) conference were not amused. Their conference summary omitted any mention of Coulter and their series of conference tapes excludes her entire session, which was to have been the capstone and climax of the conference, as she was the closer addressee on the conference's final evening. (See also this letter from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.)
CPAC, feeling the heat, now offers a six-DVD set called "Best of CPAC 2007" which includes almost all of the conference's well-known speakers. The collection excludes Coulter entirely.
Several weeks later, the Media Research Center (MRC) hosted their 20th Anniversary Gala "DisHonors Awards" ceremony, a gala extravaganza advertised to have headlined Coulter. She was to present the "God, I Hate America Award" and the "Dan Rather Memorial Award for the Stupidest Analysis" along with Sean Hannity at the rightwing media festivities.
However, according to MRC officials, "illness prevented scheduled presenters Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter from attending." Others suspect that Coulter was quietly dis-invited.
Still, as striking as these developments are, little has changed at either the American Conservative Union or the Media Research Center. Lisa De Pasquale, CPAC Director (and Coulter publicist) almost pathologically defends Coulter at every opportunity. MRC’s online Newsbusters seems to almost daily defend Coulter. Ironically, Newsbusters eagerly attacks perceived liberals for commentary comparable to (and certainly much milder than) Coulter’s.
As well, conservative Republican Presidential candidate Sam Brownback of Kansas had no problem, apparently, appearing at a recent pro-life banquet with the decidedly pro-death --- and even pro-voter fraud --- Coulter.
So has Ann Coulter reached her tipping point? Will she become a pariah as did David Duke? Or will conservatives pretend to have principles while continuing to promote Coulter as their conservative icon?