Chris Matthews unfortunately hosted columnist Ann Coulter on Hardball for a full hour last night. The story of the show was the call taken during the show from Elizabeth Edwards, John Edwards' wife. As you may remember, Coulter spoke to the CPAC at a South Carolina straw poll in early March of this year, one of the lines of her speech being as follows:
"I'd say something about John Edwards, but if you use the word 'faggot', you have to go to rehab."
Coulter yesterday was true to her formula: 1) Throw out baseless inflammatory rhetoric; 2) Complain that anyone who responds just needs to lighten up; 3) Run away from any fallout by questioning her accusers' motivations.
Let's break down the conversation, shall we? My comments are italicized, except for the [Applause from the crowd] line.
Chris Matthews: You know who's on the line? Somebody to respond to what you said Edwards yesterday morning -- Elizabeth Edwards. She wanted to call in today we said she could. Elizabeth Edwards go on the line you're on the line with Ann Coulter
Elizabeth Edwards: Hello, Chris.
Matthews: You wanna say something directly to the person who's with me?
Edwards: I'm calling you … in the South when someone does something that displeases us, we wanna ask them politely to stop doing it. Uh - I'd like to ask Ann Coulter -- if she wants to debate on issues, on positions -- we certainly disagree with nearly everything she said on your show today -- but uh it's quite another matter for these personal attacks that the things she has said over the years not just about John but about other candidates. It lowers our political dialogue precisely at the time that we need to raise it. So I want to use the opportunity … to ask her politely stop the personal attacks.
Ann Coulter: OK, so I made a joke -- let's see six months ago -- and as you point out they've been raising money off of it for six months since then.
[Ed: Miss Coulter, you've claimed this was a joke ever since that night. This isn't a matter of political correctness, because I believe that banning words and thoughts does a lot more harm than good. But why don't you try to explain what could possibly be funny about that line? To be a joke in this context, there has to be some tie to reality, and there is none to be found here. You're insulting everyone by claiming an attempt at humor.
Also, it's not exactly unusual for candidates to raise money by mentioning the people their supporters can't stand. You've intentionally qualified yourself for that role many times over.]
Matthews: This is yesterday morning, what you said about him.
Coulter: I didn't say anything about him actually either time.
[So this was another John Edwards you were talking about in the quote above? Who are you expecting to buy this?]
Edwards: Ann, you know that's not true. And once more its been going on for sometime.
Coulter: I don't mind you trying to raise money. I mean it's better this than giving $50,000 speeches to the poor.
[Again, change the subject with something completely irrelevant. This is all so much cowardice.]
Edwards: I'm asking you.
Coulter: Just to use my name on the Web pages…
Edwards: I'm asking you politely…
Coulter: … but as for a debate with me, um yeah, sure. Yeah, we'll have a debate
Edwards: I'm asking you politely to stop personal attacks.
Coulter: How bout you stop raising money on the Web page then?
[Again, please tell me how these are connected in any way.]
Edwards: It didn't start it did not...
Coulter: No you don't have cause I don't mind
Edwards: It did not start with that you had a column a number of years ago
Coulter: OK, great the wife of a presidential candidate is calling in asking me to stop speaking...
Matthews: Let her finish the point...
Coulter: You're asking me to stop speaking, stop writing columns, stop writing your books.
[Either you are incapable of simple logical distinctions, or again are simply lying. I would bet on the former not because you are stupid, but because you are so thoroughly brainwashed by your ideology that you automatically give anything a Democrat says the worst possible spin. Mrs. Edwards is clearly saying nothing of the sort.]
Matthews: OK, Ann. Please.
[Another common tactic: just shout over the other person. It's much easier debating a straw man.]
Edwards: You wrote a column a couple years ago which made fun of the moment of Charlie Dean's death, and suggested that my husband had a bumper sticker on the back of his car that said ask me about my dead son. This is not legitimate political dialogue.
Coulter: That's now three years ago --
[What possible difference does the time interval make? Was it wrong or not?]
Edwards: It debases political dialogue. It drives people away from the process. We can't have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language.
Coulter: Yeah why isn't John Edwards making this call?
[Again, why does that matter? If he had called in, you likely would have been talking about how pathetic it was for a presidential candidate to stoop to the level of calling a columnist and worrying so much about it. Further, you imply something negative about John Edwards without actually saying what it is.]
Matthews: Well do you want to respond and we'll end this conversation?
Edwards: I haven't talked to John about this call.
Coulter: This is just another attempt for –
Edwards: I'm making this call as a mother. I'm the mother of that boy who died. My children participate -- these young people behind you are the age of my children. You're asking them to participate in a dialogue that's based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues and I don't think that's serving them or this country very well.
[Applause from the crowd]
Matthews: Thank you very much Elizabeth Edwards. (Turning to Coulter) Do you want to -- you have all the time in the world to respond.
Coulter: I think we heard all we need to hear. The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. No.
[Could someone please hold an intervention with you? You are implying that you are unable to speak without baseless insult and appealing to the worst in your audiences. We did hear all we needed to, but the vast majority of us got something much different than you did.]
Coulter is the worst example of a columnist my mind can realistically conjure. She appears little but a ball of insecurity and attention-grabbing controversy, and exhibits a general contempt for those who disagree with her. That she is sharing her honest opinions I will not question. But they are in some ways the equivalent of the worst shock radio, a play for cheap applause and without much basis in reality. If she could defend them, she would be able to debate rather than throw insults childishly back at her accusers.