MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has my favorite way of referring to Ann Coulter. He calls her "the Coultergeist."
Ann of the thousand slurs
The Coultergeist was in rare form Friday at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
After being warmly welcomed by her favorite candidate, Mitt Romney, Ann Coulter made the following comment:
"Oh, and I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards. But it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I'm -- so I'm kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards."Of course, that comment was greeted by the predictable adulation by members of the coven (audience) who think of Coulter as a rock star.
Equally predictable is the silence of the mainstream media. They continue to use her as a frequent guest and continue to bestow credibility upon her that she does not deserve.
Lukewarm rebukes and Edwards' response
And then, we have yet to hear the candidates distance themselves. Would Mitt Romney dare to distance himself from Coulter after receiving such lavish praise? Well, not until he has at least snared the nomination and then tries to reinvent himself as a true moderate for a general election.
Today saw some very mild rebukes from the various campaigns. The McCain and Giuliani camps issued statements deeming the comments "inappropriate." Romney's retort was even more pathetic, merely stating that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. It's still unclear if that comment was aimed at gay people or the Coultergeist, herself.
John Edwards' campaign team responded aggressively and creatively. According to CNN,
"Edwards' campaign posted the video on their Web site, and asked readers to help them 'raise $100,000 in 'Coulter Cash' this week to keep this campaign charging ahead and fight back against the politics of bigotry.'"I think the response of the Edward's camp, using this as a means to generate money, was spot on.
The Phelps' model
Years ago, when Fred Phelps' clan began picketing funerals of gay men who had died of AIDS (a practice they later expanded to include picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq), a great idea was born.
I do not recall the group that initiated the practice, but the appearance of the hate-mongers was used as an opportunity to raise money for groups that fight hate and intolerance. It's possible that money was even being raised to generate funding for pro-gay marriage initiatives.
The tactic turned a negative into a positive. Since the group was going to picket anyway, and they were going to get their coverage, this somewhat defused the event by making clear that it would make money for the causes that those people so detested.
This move from the Edwards campaign works in the same way. It tells the Coultergeist that if she wants to continue to spew her hatred it will only make it that much easier for the Democratic candidates to raise money.
However, there are other things that need to be done.
We need to make sure that there is an 'appropriate' response from both the media and the other GOP candidates. A response with teeth in it.
In the past, Coulter has gotten away with outrageous comments and been allowed to remain a credible participant in the political process.
Media Matters always seems to set the right tone for responding. In this case, they asked the following:
"Will the media -- including the "mainstream media" figures Romney said attended his speech -- ask Romney whether he will repudiate Coulter's apparent endorsement?It's one thing for McCain and Giuliani to suggest that the comments are "inappropriate," and it's quite another to act upon it. It's one thing for Romney to talk about dignity, and quite another to be enriched by the person who makes a career of making undignified, hate-filled remarks.
"Will the media ask the other Republican presidential candidates and potential candidates participating in CPAC -- including Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Duncan Hunter, and Mike Huckabee -- whether they will seek the votes of the CPAC attendees who cheered Coulter's smear of Edwards?"
What you can do
On a personal note, contacting any media outlet that continues to give Coulter a platform is a good start towards making the Coultergeist responsible for what she says. Contacting one's local paper, as well as one's local politicians, asking them to repudiate Coulter's comments, should also be part of a creative response.
Let her hate speech inspire us to activism. That is the response Coulter most dreads. Creatures like the Coultergeist always thrive most in the darkness, while the populace is in a deep slumber.
It's time to wake up.