Skip to comments.Screed: With Treason, Ann Coulter once again defines a new low in America's political debate
Posted on 07/02/2003 4:50:57 PM PDT by The Raven
With her new book Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, syndicated pundit Ann Coulter has driven the national discourse to a new low. No longer content to merely smear liberals and the media with sweeping generalizations and fraudulent evidence, she has now upped the ante, accusing the entire Democratic Party as well as liberals and leftists nationwide of treason, a crime of disloyalty against the United States. But, as in her syndicated columns (many of which are adapted in the book) and her previous book Slander: Liberal Lies Against the American Right, Coulter's case relies in large part on irrational rhetoric and pervasive factual errors and deceptions. Regardless of your opinions about Democrats, liberals or the left, her work should not be taken at face value.
Context: The syndicated column and Slander
As we documented back in July 2001, Coulter's writing is not just inflammatory but blatantly irrational. For years, she has infused her syndicated columns with cheap shots and asides directed at targets like President Bill Clinton, the American Civil Liberties Union and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt (among many others). Liberals are indiscriminately denounced as a group as "terrorists" or a "cult" who "hate democracy." Slander, her bestseller from last year, quickly became notorious for its errors and distortions of the facts, which we detailed in our examination of the book. From deceptive footnotes to mischaracterized quotes to outright lies, Coulter broke all standards of reasonable political debate in her quest to paint a picture of a media that is unambiguously hostile to conservatives.
Jargon: How Coulter blurs distinctions in her rhetoric
In Treason, similar techniques are employed with aplomb. Consider her use of language. The accusation of treason is, of course, one of the most grave that can be made against a citizen of any country. Article III of the United States Constitution specifies that "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."
In latching onto a powerful word with a specific legal meaning and casually leveling the charge as a blanket accusation against a wide array of people (as she did with slander, which is a defamatory verbal statement), Coulter is attempting to smear virtually anyone who disagrees with her views on foreign policy as treasonous. "Liberals have a preternatural gift for striking a position on the side of treason," she writes on the first page of the book. "Whenever the nation is under attack, from within or without, liberals side with the enemy. This is their essence." (p. 1)
At times, Coulter portrays liberals and the left as engaged in a grand conspiracy to destroy the United States:
While undermining victory in the Cold War, liberals dedicated themselves to mainstreaming Communist ideals at home... Betraying the manifest national defense objectives of the country is only part of the left's treasonous scheme. They aim to destroy America from the inside with their relentless attacks on morality and the truth. (p. 289) At others, she instead insinuates that disagreeing with her about US policy toward various hostile foreign countries or taking any action that could be construed as favorable to those countries' interests is equivalent to treasonous support for those countries. Here are two classic examples of this tactic:
As a rule of thumb, Democrats opposed anything opposed by their cherished Soviet Union. The Soviet Union did not like the idea of a militarily strong America. Neither did the Democrats! (p. 171) Democrats always had mysterious objections and secret "better" ways, which they would never tell us. Then they would vote whichever way would best advance Communist interests. (p. 177) In the end, Coulter doesn't care about such distinctions, and goes so far as to specifically reject any distinction based on motive in judging her standard of treason:
Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America's self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant. Fifty years of treason hasn't slowed them down. (p. 16) Of course, Coulter must engage in a complicated set of rhetorical tricks to accuse liberals of "fifty years of treason" (in a 2001 column, it was only "[t]wenty years of treason" - did inflation set in?). The book is primarily focused on the controversy over real and alleged Soviet espionage in the post-World War II era. We can certainly stipulate that Soviet agents who worked covertly inside the United States government did commit treason. But Coulter broadens the term to include virtually every liberal, leftist, Democrat or member of the media, in each case obscuring distinctions between individuals and stereotyping the entire group.
(Excerpt) Read more at spinsanity.org ...
The Democrats have every reason to be scared sh!tless of a telegenic babe who calls a spade a spade.
As I recall, SpinCity's review of "Slander" was notorious for its errors and distortions of facts (commonly called lies). Brendan is at it again with "Treason".
Spin-Whatever is certainly aptly named.
I haven't purchased her book. Slander started off like gangbusters, and towards the end it looked like she ran out of steam, was under a deadline, or just had to fill up fifty more pages with something. I hope that this isn't the case in Treason.
Remember, now, that in the "liberal" world view, anybody who disagrees with the party line is by definition irrational.
It is uneven, and reads as if it were dashed off on deadline, yes.
For well-informed FReepers, there's not much new material.
But as a popular broadside aimed at a clueless public, it is fine.
You're wrong, I know
Baby, what's so
I know a thing or two
Ooo honey, I learned from you
I really learned a lot
I really learned a lot
Truth is like a stove
It burns you when it's hot
Truth hurts, (ooooo), truth hurts
Top 100 Bestsellers
|1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)
by J. K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré (Illustrator)
Price: $17.99 You Save: $12.00 (40%) Used & new from $12.00
|2. East of Eden (Oprah's Book Club)
by John Steinbeck
Price: $9.60 You Save: $6.40 (40%) Used & new from $8.15
|3. The Da Vinci Code
by Dan Brown
Price: $14.97 You Save: $9.98 (40%) Used & new from $11.99
by Ann Coulter
Price: $18.87 You Save: $8.08 (30%) Used & new from $14.85
|5. The South Beach Diet
by Arthur Agatston (Author)
Price: $14.97 You Save: $9.98 (40%) Used & new from $12.95
|6. The Essential 55
by Ron Clark
Price: $13.97 You Save: $5.98 (30%) Used & new from $12.95
|7. The Kennedy Curse
by Edward Klein (Author)
Price: $20.97 You Save: $8.98 (30%)
|8. Harry Potter Paperback Boxed Set (Books 1-4)
by J. K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré (Illustrator)
Price: $21.67 You Save: $9.29 (30%) Used & new from $18.90
|9. Living History
by Hillary Clinton (Author)
Price: $16.80 You Save: $11.20 (40%) Used & new from $14.45
Ann Coulter blatantly missuses the footnote. It's a fact. Her general argument is valid, but she lets herself get carried by excess. If a person writes an op ed in the times, she says "The Times says...". It is intellectually dishonest of her, and she knows it, but she is more interested in proving her point than being scrupulous with sourcing and footnoting. She is the Michael Moore of the Right.
Oh, this example just shatters Ann's credibility. We all know that the NYT Week in Review has a wide variety of opinion from right to left, and this citation just happened to be from a left wing historian.
The other examples of "factual errors" the writer cites are like this. Mainly technical errors that do not detract from the essential truth that Ann conveys.
So the unvarnished TRUTH is now deemed a new low in America's political debate.
That the author sees this as a bad thing is all you need to know about him.
All true, so ... his point is???
It is well documented (footnoted) and I use it for easy (and immediate) references. That alone makes it worthwhile.
The book is so well written it could be the most important and timely political book in the last 20 years because it goes for the bedrock issues of what is mainly wrong with America. Just saying "liberal" or "Socialist" are too weak because after all Communism "IS" Socialism and is where all Socialism is heading in the end.
I think this book is so important because of what it DON'T say but implies. No doubt in my mind that is the intent of the book, and it will work. Ann Coulter merely inseminated the reader with a seed.... and a fetus is growing.. Because if this book is true what have the american communists been doing since the House Commitee on Un-American Activitys CLOSED...
A very pregnant question, not asked directly, but implied..
Excuse me? I heard her debate with numerous people on television and radio and she has substantiated her point of view very well. That is why the libs hate her so much.
Ann Coulter blatantly missuses the footnote.
Can you point to a few examples, or are you merely venting?
Totally off the mark and straight out of DU. You've been around too long to post crap like that. Since when is the use of facts/logic equated to lies/feelings of the left?
Excellent point. Thank you for bringing it out.
Read the entire article, and tell me if you genuinely believe she doesn't take liscence. I also just read the author's deconstruction of Michael Moore, and I think it is a valid analogy. Liberals agree with Michael Moore, and they ignore his shoddy research. Just because Ann Coulter is correct that McCarthyism for example, was completely overblown, it still does not justify her in misquoting, misidentifying, and obfuscating the context of the comments in question. The excesses of the left are great enough without resorting to such tactics. That is my point.
If you want to read a more serious refutation of the McCarthyism charging left, read Brent Bozell's work. His father worked with Joe McCarthy, and the book is more serious and scholarly in tone. Then again, 30 times more people will read Ann Coulter. It comes down to a measure of taste though I suppose. I prefer Hugh Hewitt over Michael Savage. Polemicists aren't my bag.
Spinsanity does go after both the right and the left for lies and distortions, but the two guys that run it openly admit on their own "About Spinsanity" page that they're card-carrying liberals, and IMHO they do have a tendency to attack those on the right for supposed "lesser crimes" that they would let slide if it were coming from a RAT. It's not an overt bias on their part, but it does exist.
Besides, we all know Ann Coulter is a professional bombthrower given to rhetorical flourishes. So what? And it's really quite lame for liberal columnists (of whom Nyhan is but one of dozens thus far) to use the Constitutional definition of "treason" in order to attack Ann's book, when the dictionary definition of "treason" means as little as "a betrayal of trust or confidence" ... a charge that can EASILY be made against almost any prominent liberal.
Unless Ann specifically says at the beginning, "I hereby accuse all the following liberals mentioned in this book of the CRIME of Treason as defined in Article III of the US Constitution," then it's disingenuous for any reviewer, including Mr. Nyhan, to judge her book by the legal definition of the word. (I have yet to read the book; I'd appreciate someone telling me whether or not she actually does this.)
For Nyhan or any other critic to claim otherwise is the equivalent of a newspaper concert reviewer hearing the band's guitarist backstage after the show saying "Wow, we really murdered them tonight!" and then spending the entire 1000 words of his review the next day complaining about how nobody at the concert was actually killed.
The well-turned eloquence of the day!
Technically, yes. Most "mainstream" media outlets have no problem allowing one person's comments to represent that of an entire organization, whether they ought to or not. (Example: In any given article about the latest rehash of some abortion argument, the story will likely start with a line like "One side says X, but the National Organization for Women says Y." And then four paragraphs later, you find out that they only talked to one woman who happens to work at NOW. An even simpler example: When quoting movie reviews, a newspaper will have no problem writing "The Today Show said 'It's the best film of the year!'" even though it was only Gene Shalit saying that, and the Today show as a whole really has no comment on the movie one way or the other.)
Call me old-fashioned, but when I read something from Wm F Buckley I get the message that the writer respects his readers.
I don't think anyone would argue with you that Mr. Buckley's nonfiction works are far more carefully crafted than Ann Coulter's. I'm only saying that with Ann, you know what you're getting before you even pick up the book, so it's a bit of a laugh to see all these liberals running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to follow the instructions in the tattered old Politics of Personal Destruction Guidebooks. We get the joke. They don't. And that just makes the joke funnier.
Send him an email and ask him. The couple of times I've written him, he's responded. (I did write respectfully, for the record. I don't know how he'd respond if you called his (possible) father a "fat liberal puke. ;) )
They don't like the TRUTH, do they?
The cockroaches hate it when the light is shined on their activities...