(Bumping this post to the top – scroll down for updates and more thoughts)
Rick Moran blogs about the latest controversy involving comments Ann Coulter made in a recent interview with the Today Show’s Matt Lauer. First, the comments:
LAUER: On the 9-11 widows, an in particular a group that had been critical of the administration:
COULTER: “These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9-11 was an attack on our nation and acted like as if the terrorist attack only happened to them. They believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing Bush was part of the closure process.”
“These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much.”
Of those comments, Moran writes:
This rhetoric is not designed to advance debate or even make any kind of a salient point about the political activism of grief stricken parents like Cindy Sheehan and the anti-Bush September 11 widows. The remarks were designed to hurt other people’s feelings in a deeply personal and entirely inappropriate way. Can you imagine some liberal commentator making similar remarks about Debra Burlingame, sister of Charles F. “Chic” Burlingame, III, captain of American Airlines flight 77, which was crashed at the Pentagon and who is fighting to keep the 9/11 Memorial from being hijacked by the anti-American left? We would be all over that worthy and deservedly so.
The anti-Bush 9/11 widows are not immune from criticism for their political positions nor even for the tactics they use to advance those positions. But to say that they are “enjoying” their status as widows is so far beyond the pale that anyone who makes such a statement deserves the most severe censure possible. And the networks who use Coulter as some kind of “Spokesman” for the right should be told in no uncertain terms by as many of us as possible that she doesn’t speak for any conservatives that we want to be associated with.
I couldn’t agree more.
Ann, of course, has the right to say whatever she wants – but was something like that right to say? I don’t think so. This isn’t about being uber-sensitive. It’s about there being a better way to get your point across without going overboard. No matter what the 9-11 widows have had to say about the President’s policies, Coulter saying they’ve been “enjoying” their husbands deaths is way beyond the pale.
This is yet another example of how sometimes conservative debate can turn from passion to poison.
James Joyner has a link roundup of blogger reax.
PM Update 11:47 ET: It’s ‘progressed’ (don’t know if that’s the best word for it) to a war of words been Coulter and Hillary.
Malkin makes a fair point here on what’s been lost in all this:
Unfortunately, lost in all the hype and hyperbole on both sides is the central point about the absolute moral authority the MSM confers on victims they agree with–while victims whose politics they do not share can’t get the time of day.
She’s absolutely right. Unfortunately, that central point won’t be the focus now. The focus is going to be on how hateful Ann is, and by association, conservatives, because she wrote about how the 9-11 widows were ‘enjoying’ their husbands’ deaths.
To add to my earlier points, on certain issues it helps to be tactful when attempting to get your point across. I have defended remarks made by other conservatives that I thought were taken out of context by the liberal mediots (Bill Bennett [scroll] and Rep. Jean Schmidt are two examples of that) because they deserved to be defended. The usual suspects took offense at Bennett’s and Schmidt’s remarks respectively – Bennett’s because he wasn’t being PC enough and Schmidt because she was supposedly ‘smearing’ Vietnam vet Rep. John Murtha after he urged the US to essentially cut and run in Iraq. I cannot, however, do the same for Ann here.
Conservatives, including myself, are strong proponents of saying what needs to be said without worrying about who is going to get offended. The bane of progress on conservative priorities has been political correctness: we’ve been told for decades by Democrats that our ideas are offensive, mean-spirited and wrong – and when we act on our core beliefs (smaller gov’t, fiscal responsibility, etc) well, I don’t even have to give a rundown of the type of venom that spews out of the mouths of demagoguing blowhards like Ted Kennedy in response. In spite of the Ted Kennedys of the world, we need to keep on saying what needs to be said. But on certain issues, tact is important and this is indeed one of those issues.
I know some of my readers disagree with me on this, which is fine because a world in which we always agreed with each other would be quite boring. But I want to reiterate that this is not about political correctness or being uber-sensitive, but instead knowing which issues to approach tactfully and which ones not to. Because of the way Ann chose to make her point on the “Jersey girls” – by saying they were “enjoying” their husbands’ deaths, the real point – as Malkin noted – the one that really should be the focal point, has been lost. It’s become a personality debate now rather than a substantive debate and that is the most regrettable thing out of all this.
(Original post time before the update and bump: 10:16 a.m.)