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Daily Howler: No one Klein knows believes Ann Coulter! But readers, let's go to the tape
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ONLY AT TAPPED! No one Klein knows believes Ann Coulter! But readers, let’s go to the tape: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 2006

ONLY THE TIMES: Only the Times could be so dense as to offer the following headline. We’ve transcribed it from this morning’s hard-copy edition:
Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, Colorful Dictator of Paraguay for 35 Years, Dies in Exile at 93
Yes, we know—it’s just one word, selected by one headline writer. But only the Times would choose the word “colorful” to describe this now-deceased dictator. Which part of Diana Jean Schemo’s obituary made the general seem so “colorful?” Perhaps it was her penultimate paragraph, where she helps us see the colorful ways the gentleman kept folks in line:
SCHEMO (8/17/06): Martin Almada, a schoolteacher imprisoned during the 1970's as an ''intellectual terrorist,'' said General Stroessner's legacy was ''terror and corruption.'' Mr. Almada's wife died at the age of 33 after, he said, security agents played her a tape of his screams under torture.
Schemo’s profile is full of such material. Why knows? Maybe it was the way Paraguayans reacted “when they put the needles under your fingernails.” Maybe that brought out Stroessner’s color.

Yes, we know—it’s just one word. But only at the New York Times would some editor—far too smart for his or her own good—read Schemo’s profile and decide it showed how “colorful” this fellow had been. Here’s the headline in today’s Post: “Alfredo Stroessner; Paraguayan Dictator.”

ONLY AT TAPPED: Ever get the feeling you’re living a dream—that events around you just can’t be real? We got that feeling when we read Ezra Klein “defend TNR’s defense of Ann Coulter.” Elspeth Reeve’s original piece was roughly the densest piece of work ever published (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/16/06). But surely, God is playing a joke when Klein, having read it, types this:
KLEIN (8/16/06): Not to get too deep into the weeds on this, but I'm going to...defend TNR’s defense of Ann Coulter (which is, surely, the TNRiest article of all time). Coulter is less a political force nowadays than some sort of bizarre rorschach atop which we dump our worst impulses and greatest rages. I don't know a single person who believes she's anything less than a talk show vaudeville act, yet she remains prominent in the conversation. How her trolling retains its effectiveness is worth mining a bit, and it's to TNR's credit that, after publishing some killer takedowns of her last week, they're willing to let Elspeth Reeve explore the other end.
Good God! Pauline Kael has been mocked through the ages for having said, after Nixon’s 49-state re-election, "I don't know a single person who voted for him!” (Apparent actual quote.) Now, in turn, along comes Klein. He doesn’t know anyone who takes Coulter seriously—and therefore, seems amazed that she still gets discussed. “Coulter is less a political force than some sort of bizarre rorschach,” he says.

We know, we know—surely, Klein meant to say something deeper. (In fact, if you want to see someone take all sides of an issue in just three paragraphs, be sure to read his full post.) But a crucial fact is worth noting; this country is currently full of people who take every word from Coulter quite seriously. Indeed, these people were on full display when Coulter appeared at the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute last month. The rorschach spoke to an all-female audience—mostly younger women, some of them graduates of our “best universities.” And we can report that, to all appearances, they believe every word Coulter says. For example, here’s the fourth question she was asked:
QUESTION FROM SOMEONE EZRA KLEIN DOESN’T KNOW (7/28/06): Hi. My name is —, I’m a sophomore at Bucknell University and a summer intern at the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute. In your book, Godless, you completely tear apart the theory of evolution and I was just wondering how scientists can still believe in such an implausible theory, especially since you don’t disprove it based on Biblical facts and scripture, you disprove it based on, you know, pure science. So how do liberals react to that?
Yes, that was the actual question. (So you’ll know, other questions came from Harvard students and graduates.) Coulter’s reply was worth transcribing in full, and we hope that somebody does it. But in part, she told her audience that large numbers of scientists do know that “Darwinism is a crock;” they just don’t want the harassment involved in speaking up about it. As Coulter continued, she finger-gestured to let the gals know that those so-called “scientists” who believe in evolution aren’t really “scientists” at all:
COULTER: Most of the “scientists” favoring Darwinism, you know, they’re barely even scientists. They’re biologists. They’re not physicists. They not chemists.
Coulter’s voice dripped with scorn as she referred to all those dumb-ass biologists. (“You always hear about actual scientists who know that evolution, or Darwinism, is a crock,” she said.) No, you can’t get more idiotic than Coulter. But in more than an hour of straight Q-and-A, there wasn’t a hint than anyone present didn’t believe every word they were hearing. Ezra Klein doesn’t know these people. But they’re crawling all over the land.

Why do these women, and other people, believe the various things Coulter says? In part, because our “liberal journals” are stocked with twits like Reeve and Klein; one of them swears that Coulter is truthful, the other won’t bother explaining that she’s not. As a more general matter, they may believe Coulter because we ardent “progressives” have given them little reason not to. Yes, you can go here (at The New Republic) to read a takedown of Coulter on evolution. (Warning! The author isn’t a physicist!) And you can go here, at Media Matters, to see the same topic addressed. But let’s face it—few of us are fully able to evaluate the science involved here. If we want to let real people know that Coulter keeps telling them things which are bogus, it would be smarter to highlight her endless smaller misstatements—the kind of clownish misstatements which simply littered her 2002 best-seller, Slander. But our liberal elites have walked away from such tiresome work—and now, we may have found out why. None of their friends believe this stuff! Why would they bother discussing it?

In her talk at Clare Booth Luce, Coulter offered a classic, low-level groaner just forty seconds into the hunt. But the ladies didn’t know they were being played, and wise men Klein are too grand to tell them. Meanwhile, Reeve thinks this stuff is secretly true. Do you ever get the fleeting sense that human life is a joke, a deception?

TOMORROW: Coulterism is tribal—and ancient