Elizabeth Edwards Confronts Ann Coulter
Elizabeth Edwards called in to “Hardball” yesterday afternoon to confront Ann Coulter.
Elizabeth Edwards pleaded Tuesday with Ann Coulter to “stop the personal attacks,” a day after the conservative commentator said she wished Edwards’ husband, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, had been killed by terrorists.
“The things she has said over the years, not just about John but about other candidates, lowers the political dialogue at precisely the time we need to raise it,” Edwards said by phone on MSNBC’s “Hardball” program, where Coulter was a guest. Elizabeth Edwards said she did not consult her husband before confronting Coulter on the air, adding that she felt the pundit’s remarks were “a dialogue on hatefulness and ugliness.”
“It debases political dialogue,” Edwards said. “It drives people away from the process. We can’t have a debate about issues if you’re using this kind of language.”
Coulter responded with a laugh and charged that Edwards was calling on her to stop speaking altogether. She questioned why Elizabeth Edwards was making a phone call on behalf of her husband, and she criticized John Edwards for “stealing doctors’ money” during his successful career as a trial lawyer. “I don’t think I need to be told to stop writing by Elizabeth Edwards, thank you,” Coulter said.
On ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday, Coulter was asked about a March speech in which she used a gay slur to refer to Edwards. “If I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot,” Coulter said Monday, picking up on remarks made by HBO’s Bill Maher. Maher suggested in March that “people wouldn’t be dying needlessly” if Vice President Dick Cheney had been killed in an insurgent attack in Afghanistan.
Coulter’s warped sense of humor, displayed in these remarks and the infamous “faggot” line at CPAC, demonstrates an amazingly poor sense of ironic delivery for someone who apparently aspires to be a professional humorist. Certainly, she’s long given up on serious political commentary.
Here’s a video of the exchange:
A full transcript, courtesy Nico @ Think Progress, appears below the fold.
This is getting, as one might imagine, quite a bit of play on the blogs, especially on the left. Amusingly, many seem angry at Matthews for having Coulter on and acting as her “cheerleader,” even though he clearly sandbagged her by allowing Edwards to call in as a surprise guest.
John Amato observes that “Coulter was not ready for this one.”
John Aravosis says of the assassination remarks, “If you or I said this, we’d be arrested. And we certainly wouldn’t be given TV time on ABC, NBC or any other show than FOX. Why did NBC let her on the show after this? Why would anyone?”
Steve Benen agrees:
This has been another installment of “There Is Nothing A Conservative Can Say To Get Ostracized From The Mainstream Media.” Indeed, Coulter will make her first Hardball appearance in a year tonight. (The last time she was on, she referred to Al Gore as a “total fag.”)
Rationalizing a return invitation for Coulter, Chris Matthews said, “Say what you will, she sells books.” I don’t know what that has to do with having her on his show, but then again, I find most of Matthews’ observations incoherent.
On his worst day, Michael Moore is Cicero compared to Coulter, but what do you suppose would happen if, during his ongoing promotional tour for his new movie, Moore told a national television audience, “I’ll just wish (insert Republican presidential candidate here) had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot”? Do you think we might hear something about it?
Of course, Bill Maher said the same thing about Dick Cheney and he’s free — and on television — too. People are allowed to say incredibly disgusting things so long as they aren’t actually inciting people to commit crimes. And she’s allowed on television because she gets ratings. I couldn’t tell you who was on “Hardball” any other show in the past month; everyone’s talking about Coulter, though.
Echidne agrees, although she’s not happy about it.
The Romans knew that if you give people enough food and enough entertainment they are much less likely to rebel. Too bad about the Barbarians and the Vandals and so on. Today they wouldn’t be much of a problem as we have television, and the Romans could have beamed the goodies all over the European continent.
The irony is that this is a very conservative sentiment. That Coulter, one of the chief propagandists of the modern conservative movement, has to be lectured on civility by the left is sad commentary, indeed.
Unqualified Offerings‘ Mona wonders “When is the Right Going to Rise Up and Utterly Shun this Vile Creature?”
Coulter is routinely asked to appear at right-wing festivals such as the Conservative Political Action Conference. When will they have the decency to stop?
Ann Coulter creates controversy. It’s not shocking. What’s shocking is the timing. Coulter doesn’t have a book coming out until October. She had no reason to be controversial and mean other than she’s internalized it so much she can’t help herself.
Digby notes that the Edwards comments are the least offensive things Coulter says on the show. He paraphrases her remarks as, “our problem in Iraq is because we haven’t killed enough civilians.”
You know, I often hear about how the liberals are sending the wrong message to the enemy. Yet, they let this unhinged homicidal maniac on television to spew this toxic swill.
If Matthews is so desperate for ratings he should have just showed Paris Hilton’s sex tape. It’s far less obscene than what I’m looking at right now. This is just vile.
She’s a piece of work, indeed. Unfortunately, anger and ugliness sells.
UPDATE: Dave Weigel has a point, though:
Yes, that’s the way to rebut charges of wimpery: Send your wife to beg people to stop hitting you.
Well, there is that.
MATTHEWS: You know who’s on the line? Someone to respond to what you said about Edwards yesterday morning. Elizabeth Edwards. She wanted to call in today, we said she could. Elizabeth Edwards, go on the line. You’re on the line with Ann Coulter.
E: Hello Chris.
M: Do you want to say something directly to the person who’s with me?
E: I’m calling — you know, in the south, when someone does something that displeases us, we want to ask them politely to stop doing it. I would like to ask Ann Coulter to — if she wants to debate on issues, on positions — we certainly disagree with nearly everything she said on your show today — but it is quite another matter for these personal attacks. The things that she has said over the years, not just about John but about other candidates, lowers our political dialogue precisely at the time that we need to raise it. So I want to use the opportunity, which I don’t get much because Ann and I don’t hang out with the same people…
C: I don’t have enough money.
E: …to ask her politely stop the personal attacks.
C: Okay, so I made a joke, let’s see, six months ago, and as you point out, they have been raising money off of it for six months since then.
M: But this is yesterday morning, what you said about him.
C: I didn’t say anything about him, actually, either time.
E: But that — Ann, Ann, you know that’s not true, and once more, this has been going on for some time.
C: And I don’t mind you trying to raise money. It’s better this than giving $50,000 speeches to the poor just to use my name on the webpages. But as for a debate with me, yeah, sure. Yeah, we’ll have a debate.
E: I’m asking you politely to stop, to stop personal attacks —
C: How about you stop raising money on your web page then? No, you don’t have to because I don’t mind.
E: I did not start with that. You had a column a number of years ago where you suggested — wait till I finish talking please…
C: Okay, the wife of a presidential candidate is calling in asking me to stop speaking.
M: Let her finish the point. Let her finish the point.
C: You’re asking me to stop speaking? “Stop writing your columns. Stop writing your books.”
M: Ann, please.
E: You had a column several years ago which made fun of the moment of Charlie Dean’s death and suggested that my husband had a bumper sticker on the back of his car saying, “Ask me about my dead son.” This is not legitimate political dialogue.
C: This is now three years ago.
E: It debases political dialogue. It drives people away from the process. We can’t have a debate about the issues.
C: Yeah, why isn’t John Edwards making this call?
M: Well, do you want to respond? We’ll end the conversation.
E: I haven’t talked to John about this call. I’m making the call as a mother. I’m the mother of that boy who died. My children participate — these young people behind you are the age of my children. You’re asking them to participate in a dialogue that is based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues, and I don’t think that’s serving them or this country very well.
M: Thank you very much Elizabeth. You wanna respond? You have all the time in the world to respond.
C: I think we heard all we need to hear. The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. No.
M: No, she asked you to stop being so negative to people individually.
C: Right, as opposed to bankrupting doctors by giving a schyster Las Vegas routine in front of juries based on science — wait, you said I’d have as long as I would have, then you instantly interrupt me.
M: Go ahead, go ahead.
C: As I was saying, doing these psychic routines in front of illiterate juries to bankrupt doctors who now can’t deliver babies, and to charge a poverty group $50,000 for a speech. Don’t talk to me about how to use language.
E: …the language of hate, and I’m going to ask you again to politely stop using personal attacks as part of your dialogue.
C: Okay, I’ll stop writing books.
E: If you can’t write them without them, that is fine.
M: Why do you call out Hillary’s chubby legs in your book? Why do you — this may fall under the category of personal attacks, I don’t know, but why do you do that? Why do you talkabout Monica Lewinsky’s chubbiness? If she were skinny, would it have been okay?
C: Um, I don’t know, read the sentence.
E: I read the whole sentence. I couldn’t feel the context.
C: Well you have to give it to me and I could explain.
E: Why do you make fun of Hillary’s chubby legs?
C: I don’t know, you’re going to have to give me the sentence.
M: It’s in the afterword of your book, I just read it this morning.
C: Then read the sentence.
M: We’ll be back and read the entire sentence. We’ll come right back. I don’t know why we’re reading — the full intellectual context will be coming in just a moment.