When Ann Coulter glided on to the scene in the 1990s, she instantly became the fresh, new, energetic face of American conservatism.
She was smart, sassy, brash and attractive.
She took no prisoners. She fought on offense. She made no apologies for her views.
What happened to that Ann Coulter?
I invite you to watch the following interview segment in the friendly confines of Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. She looks the same. She sounds the same. But she’s gone native.
While claiming to "love" the tea-party activists "out there in America," she denigrates some unnamed organizations that are getting rich fighting "establishment Republicans."
The solution to all of America's problems, according to Ann Coulter, lies in electing Republicans – any and all Republicans. It doesn't matter where they stand on the issues. It doesn't matter how effective they have been in office. It doesn't matter if they have betrayed those who elected them or the Constitution.
Ann Coulter enthusiastically supported Mitt Romney in 2012 – in the Republican primaries. Her real favorite at the time wasn't running – Chris Christie.
Is this still the face of conservatism in America?
I hope not.
As late as 2006, I had nothing but high praise for Coulter: "I have the utmost respect for the woman – especially after reading her latest page-turner, 'Godless.' I am impressed with her literary skill and even more impressed with the way she fights. She doesn't fight like a conservative. She doesn't fight like a girl. She doesn't fight like a sissy. She doesn't fight on defense. Let me say it again: She doesn't fight like a conservative. She fights like a man – on offense. And she fights to win. It's the only way to fight. If you don't fight to win, don't fight at all. That's my advice. And if you are only going to fight on defense, you might as well give up now and sue for peace."
I started to see some warning signs that Coulter was losing her principled edge just three years later in 2009, when she led a vicious public assault against "birthers," as liberals and Democrats dubbed those who asked very tough questions about Barack Obama's constitutional eligibility for the White House – questions that have still never been answered, by the way. WND's reporting staff did not escape her scathing barbs.
That did not stop me from inviting her to be a keynote speaker at WND's 2010 "Taking America Back" national conference in Miami – nor did her anti-birther positioning prevent her from accepting the gig.
But then she crossed a bridge too far, forcing me to disinvite her.
She accepted a keynote speaking invitation from GOProud, the organization that claims to be made up of conservative Republicans who are homosexuals. In fact, the group supports some of the most radical social ideas this side of Van Jones and Bill Ayers. The event was called, appropriately, "HOMOCON." And that's really what GOProud has always been about – conning "conservatives" into believing they are part of the movement to preserve the foundations of American liberty and self-government.
I tried to reason with her. I explained it was a mistake – a really bad idea. She defended her decision on the grounds that she will speak to anyone for money.
When she finally stopped responding to my pleas, I disinvited her and explained why.
What followed was a fusillade of personal insults:
- "Farah is doing this for PUBLICITY and publicity alone," she told the Daily Caller.
- "He's a swine for using my private e-mails politely answering him," she wrote. "Why would he do such a despicable thing … for PUBLICITY."
- She told Fox News I was a "publicity whore" and a "phony Christian."
Not too much later, Coulter was no longer just accepting a speaking engagement from GOProud, she was joining the group's advisory board.
But today Coulter is casting a wider net than vilifying just me. Today she is calling unnamed tea-party activists "con men" who are "tricking Americans to send them money." She is attacking tea-party Republicans in the House and Senate for "defeating establishment Republicans." She didn't name Ted Cruz, but she referenced him obliquely by mentioning a column that attacked him. She warned against "shysters" within the tea-party movement.
Consider what Coulter is saying: Republicans must be united at all costs – stop fighting with each other. In the same breath, she attacks the hapless Lindsey Graham, the heroic Ted Cruz and some other unnamed "shysters" for working to defeat establishment Republicans. Can anyone else follow the logic here?
Is Coulter the only American entitled to decide which Republicans are worthy of support and which are not?
Is it possible for even conservatives to have a public dialogue with Ann Coulter without being the target of gratuitous, ad hominem attacks?
Could it be that Ann Coulter is actually guilty of the sins she recklessly and fecklessly accuses others of committing?
When Coulter hurled those invectives my way in 2010, many WND viewers urged me to dump her column and stop offering her books for sale.
Some wonder why.
Because agreement with me is not a requirement for being a WND commentator. In fact, WND boasts the broadest spectrum of political opinion among its dozens and dozens of columnists. And I have a very thick skin.
Some wonder why.
Because the sale of books in the WND Superstore does not suggest endorsement of the ideas in those books. Note WND also carries books written by Saul Alinsky, Al Gore, Barack Obama and Karl Marx, among others with whom I have more than hair-splitting differences.
I'm hardly suggesting Coulter's books should be burned.
Nor am I suggesting she should be burned at the stake or drummed out of the conservative movement.
But maybe it's time for conservatives to be a little more discerning about what she actually says.
Media wishing to interview Joseph Farah, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.