New to POLJUNK, Jude Lemrow chimes in on a new movement of Conservatives who are represented by the vitriolic hyperbole of Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and other blowhards. But are there more of them than us?
I turned the channel to NBC the other night expecting to see the intro to Conan O'Brien. For some reason, Jay Leno was running late. As a result, I got treated to a few minutes of Ann Coulter in all her glory (Watch the Video). The first thing that I noticed, and it struck me right as I tuned in, is that Coulter looks like an un-made-up Marilyn Manson. It seems that I'm always hearing (mostly conservative) pundits and politicos talk about what a sexy spokesperson the Right has in their corner. I'd really like to know what they're smoking and where I can get some, because the woman I saw appeared, well, haggard, to put it politely.
But I think I know why she looked so rough; if I spent all of my time spewing forth bile and venom the way she does, I'd look like shit too. I tuned in just in time to hear her talk about her new book "Godless," which apparently asserts, among other things, that liberalism is a religion unto itself. She went on to chastise liberals for creating the myth of global warming and a handful of other sins. Then I heard what sounded like at least a quarter, if not half, of the audience cheer. I found that to be about ten times more disconcerting than anything Coulter herself had to say. Then, of course, the money moment came when Leno asked Coulter to address the flak she has received for attacking the four 9/11 widows (known as the "Jersey Girls") who pushed for the creation of the 9/11 Commission. Coulter proudly stood by her book's assault of the 9/11 widows, which includes the following nuggets: "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them. ... I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." Again, a fair amount of applause. Again, the applause is what I found alarming.
Some in the blogoshpere have suggested that perhaps Coulter's publisher or some other right-wing organization had purchased blocks of tickets and planted a cheering section for Coulter. That is certainly possible. However, there might be a more ominous explaination; that Coulter actually represents the views of (or rather, she projects her views onto, and those views are absorbed by) a far more significant portion of the American public than I had previously imagined. That is, the Right has moved so far to the right, and has become so militant in their views, that they now take pride and joy in viscious baseless attacks on women who were widowed on 9/11. These are the new Republicans.
For decades, the Right has been constructing a media empire that has allowed them to create a complete alternate reality in which millions of Americans now reside. Talk radio, radically conservative publishing houses, and conservatively biased "news" channels such as Fox News (and many would argue most of the mainstream corporate news and talk shows) are the cornerstones of this alternate reality. We are now beginning to see the results of what happens when large segments of the American population become fully immersed in a world where information is crafted by radical conservatives. Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and their ilk have created, via the examples that their on-air personalities present, a social environment in which discourse that would have been considered downright unpatriotic by conservative standards twenty years ago is now perfectly acceptable. Coulter's attack would be the modern equivalent of suggesting that the widows of Pearl Harbor were happy to be rid of their husbands (and then making bank by complaining about their deaths—ed.). Somehow, I just can't imagine conservatives in the mold of Ronald Reagan putting up with, much less endorsing, attacks on victims of a national tragedy, no matter the victims' political affiliations.
I wish Leno had the balls to ask Coulter why she thought that GWB initially refused to appoint an investigative body to look into the events/failures leading up to 9/11. Had GWB done so, the Jersey Girls might not have felt it necessary to band together to pressure the administration.
It is just a matter of time before more traditional media outlets begin to realize, if they haven't already, that there are dollars to be made by pandering to residents of the alternate universe. I have noticed that many of Leno's musical and conversational guests in recent years seem to be booked on the show to give the show red-state appeal. Watch for other late-night shows to follow suit in the next few years.
Next week on Leno: The Reverend Fred Phelps, David Duke, and the ghost of Joseph Goebbels...