June 22, 2006
WAR: Let The Family Vent
John Hinderaker really shouldn't have accused the uncle of one of the soldiers tortured and slain by hostage-takers in Iraq of having "no shame". If the guy is still holding down a public platform six months from now, maybe; but people say things when they are grieving, and the proper response is just to discount them. Via Blogometer.
On a related topic, Mark Steyn defends Ann Coulter's assault on the "Jersey Girls," four widows of victims of September 11, on the grounds that only Coulter's brand of outrageous overstatement was capable of shutting down their excesses:
For all the impact my column had, I might as well have done house calls. Then Coulter comes in and yuks it up with the Playboy-spread gags, and suddenly the Jersey Girls only want to do the super-extra-fluffy puffball interviews. So two paragraphs in Ann Coulter's book have succeeded in repositioning these ladies: they may still be effective Democrat hackettes, but I think TV shows will have a harder time passing them off as non-partisan representatives of the 9/11 dead.
So, on balance, hooray for Miss Coulter. If I were to go all sanctimonious and priggish, I might add that, in rendering their "human shield" strategy more problematic, she may be doing Democrats a favour. There's no evidence the American people fall for this shtick: in 2002, the party's star Senate candidates all ran on biography -- Max Cleland, Jean Carnahan (the widow of a deceased governor), and Walter Mondale (the old lion pressed into service after Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash). All lost. Using "messengers whom we're not allowed to reply to" doesn't solve the Democrats' biggest problem: their message.
Steyn has a point, as always, but I still think you can't measure when a commentator has overstepped the bounds of decency solely by asking whether it worked.
Finally, proving that the Left learns nothing, Jeff Goldstein and James Taranto (third item) point us to increasingly unhinged and incoherent uses of the "chickenhawk" canard by Howard Dean (who apparently thinks his own experience on the ski slopes during Vietnam trumps George W. Bush flying night patrols over the Gulf of Mexico in an F-102 and Don Rumsfeld serving as a Navy pilot) and the senile, rambling John Murtha, respectively.
UPDATE: I should add that the NY Daily News was shamefully dishonest about the Coulter flap in publishing this column by a different 9/11 widow implying that Coulter had attacked all the widows. I suppose I can't feel to sorry for Coulter, given how nasty her attack was, but at least some pretense of fairness would be nice (the best they could do was not mention Coulter in the article, as she might have had sued the paper if they had openly mischaracterized what she said).
The real problem is that both the extreme right and left are just that: extreme. The last person who touted extremism in a major public election was he who actually was not: Barry Goldwater. Who really touted some good commons sense, and was treated by the Dems the way the left is now being treated by the Republicans: with scare tactics and lies. IN the end, what goes around comes around.
Coulter was off base; not because she was right or wrong. The 9/11 families (and living in NY, I of course know some, sadly) are being treated with too much deference (and the now ailing workers are being treated with far too little), but Coulter was guilty of plain bad taste. And was, as usual, indecently self-righteous.
Coulter, Limbaugh, Dean, all are self righteous. Maybe they should all learn from Ronald Reagan: pick the best people and get out of the way. Of course, you need the knack of who the best people really are. Keeping Rummy and getting rid of Powell is not what we call optimum. Reagan had his points, his beliefs, but first could tolerate dissent, and was not self-righteous or abusive. He believed, and felt that his mission was to make people understand; he charmed, he did not dismiss. But W ain't no Reagan. Few are of course.
Your right Daryl, W isn't Reagan and unfortunatly there isn't one on the horizon. Coulter and Limbaugh are different from Dean in that they stir the pot in order to sell their product. Coulter's comments may be in bad taste, but they ahve had the necessary effect of moving the "Jersey Girls" back to their rightful spot as grieving widows instead of media darlings. Dean suffers from the same seaming lack of responsibility for his words as Limbaugh and Coulter, but his intent is purely political. Rush would tell you the sky was black on a bright sunny day to spark debate.