More Schlafly, Less Coulter

The blogosphere is in a lather over Ann Coulter’s use of the word “faggot” at CPAC. The American Spectator and National Review are both supporting calls to have her banned from CPAC forevermore for that affront to homosexual-Americans.

The whole episode is a good illustration of the Coulter method. She knows where the fault lines lie between the New York-Washington, D.C. conservative movement and the red-state conservative grassroots. She’s so popular in part because she says the kinds of inflammatory things that the punters want to hear, things that conservatism’s own Eastern establishment dare not say for fear of offending polite, liberal opinion.

But Coulter is only with the grassroots against the movement’s own East Coast elites when it comes to the most trivial, Neaderthal rhetoric. In that same CPAC speech, she endorsed Mitt Romney, the blandest, safest “conservative” candidate. If she’s really such a hard right-winger, why didn’t she endorse someone like Tom Tancredo? Ironically, if she had done that, she might have single-handedly boosted a marginal candidate to the top tier; instead, she jumped on the Mitt Romney bandwagon and caused him embarrassment, since he later had to disassociate himself from her language.

For all that she needles the girly-boys of the movement, she is not actually any kind of grassroots firebrand herself. She’s strictly conventional when it comes to any issue that matters. She has the effect of co-opting and neutering whatever populist discontent there is with the Right’s establishment. She’s like a Barbie dolls that’s been reprogrammed to say “faggot” instead of “math is hard”: offensive but harmless.

Coulter has many times paid homage to Phyllis Schlafly. The two women couldn’t be more different: Mrs. Schlafly doesn’t use inflammatory language, and she actually organized the grassroots rather than simply titillating them. And unlike Coulter, Phyllis Schlafly is willing (up to a point) to call the Republican Party and the conservative establishment on the carpet, as she does in these quotes reported from Politico.com:

Bush has “made so many mistakes,” said the Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly. “The war is a disaster and he flubbed the [immigration] issue.”

And the leading GOP contenders to succeed Bush? “They’re all equally unacceptable,” Schlafly said.

Ann Coulter would never say anything like that. It’s what she doesn’t say, much more than what she does, that really indicts her.

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8 thoughts on “More Schlafly, Less Coulter

  1. John W. Payne March 6, 2007 / 8:41 am

    What do you think the odds are that this incident will be what reduces Coulter to irrelevance? Eventually, won’t everyone with a shred of intelligence just realize that she says deliberately offensive things for the sole purpose of remaining in the public eye? Of course, I suppose that depends on how many conservatives are left with a shred of intelligence.

  2. Matthew March 6, 2007 / 2:34 pm

    It won’t have any bearing on her relevance. Look at Rush Limbaugh. I guarantee she will be invited to a big school by the CRs somewhere, and there will be a whole media circus covering the liberals trying to stop her.

    Republican politics may be more forgiving than the NBA, it seems.

  3. John Lowell March 7, 2007 / 12:15 am

    Phyliss Schlafly is a 24 carat phoney, always griping about Republican failures vis-a-vis social conservatives but always right in there with them when it counts. A good example: Bush’s stem-cell compromise in 2001. Schlafly griped and moaned about the compromise yet whole heartedly supported Bush – as did Buchanan – in 2004. And a more seminal pro-life question than embryonic stem cell research there just couldn’t be. Phyliss Schlafly is all sound and fury signifying nothing. She’s a charter member of the pro-life “leadership” that for three or four decades has exploited the bejabbers out of social conservatives, promising them much in return for contributions, lecture circuit fees and delivering nothing.

    John Lowell

  4. Joe Populist March 7, 2007 / 10:34 am

    John Lowell: “Phyliss Schlafly is a 24 carat phoney, always griping about Republican failures vis-a-vis social conservatives but always right in there with them when it counts. A good example: Bush’s stem-cell compromise in 2001. Schlafly griped and moaned about the compromise yet whole heartedly supported Bush – as did Buchanan – in 2004.”

    Didn’t you ever consider the lesser of two evils….as they say. The “fusionism” of trying to meld Southern Dixiecrat social views with Wall Street economics that benefits the CEO classes at the expense of the middle class is the real phoniness in the Conservative movement. Schafly’s been around a long time, and has seen it all…

  5. John Lowell March 7, 2007 / 8:48 pm

    Joe P,

    Never one to recognize good in a lesser evil, Joe, I’m afraid I’ll have to pass on thumping the tub for good ole Phearliss. Rather, my suggestion would be to hand over the whole of the present, prominent “pro-life” leadership to the courts on a charge of unmitigated fraud. I’ve found two and only two sources to be absolutely reliable when it comes to life questions: The USCCB and the Vatican. Other spokesmen just lay down and go along so as to protect access. That’s what makes Richard Neuhaus’ lay down on stem cells in 2001 and his more recent warmongering so unquestionably reprehensible. A Catholic priest, he is every bit the embarrassment to the Church that have been the child abusers and seminary princesses of recent vintage. I’ll take my “conservatism” sans the ideology, thank you.

    John Lowell

  6. Matthew March 7, 2007 / 9:25 pm

    That’s the funny thing – what’s the point of access when the people you want to access aren’t in power? Who thought even five years ago that Hillary Clinton would have a realistic shot at the presidency? Or that the Republican majority would be in shambles?

    That is the real indictment against the leaders and spokesmen of the conservative movement. It is one thing to go to bed with the GOP and only come back with half-earted rhetoric and broken promises. It is quite another when your bedfellows aren’t even in the position to give you much more than that.

  7. John Lowell March 8, 2007 / 1:57 pm

    Matthew,

    Your point is well taken. It’s one thing to experience sell-out, entirely another to be sold out by someone who means nothing. I’m not sure which way one fares best. 🙂

    John Lowell

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