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Oct. 23 2009 - 11:00 am | 244 views | 0 recommendations | 8 comments

Ann Coulter’s Latest Lie

Ann Coulter, serial liar and firebug, has surfaced after some months of relative quietude with another of her typically overwrought and manifestly untrue provocations. Appearing yesterday on The Joy Behar Show, Coulter, aiming to counter the idea that President Obama might become vicitm of a right wing assassin, said, “Every presidential assassination or attempted presidential assassination has been committed by some left wing loon, communist, anarchist, commutarians–yes they were!–or they had no politics at all. They were all liberals!”

It’s true that a number of presidential assassins were political left wingers. Lee Harvey Oswald, of course, traveled to the USSR and expressed communist sympathies. Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of William McKinley, was an anarchist, and though he would probably resent Coulter’s connecting him to tepid liberalism, was on that side of that line. Sara Jane Moore, who attempted to kill Gerald Ford, was involved in left wing politics, as were the Puerto Rican nationalists who tried to kill Harry Truman. Giuseppe Zangara, who fired at the great liberal president Franklin Roosevelt, insultingly described Roosevelt as a capitalist. Make of that what you will.

Now things start to get spongier for Coulter. The Bible scholar John Schrank, who tried to kill Theodore Roosevelt, objected to TR seeking a third term in politics. Hard to think of that as being particularly liberal. Charles Guiteau, the assassin of James Garfield, spent time in the Oneida Community, a community built around group marriage, but he was notably unsuccessful participant in the community and was thrown out. He became a lawyer who specialized in bill collecting, and then got involved in politics as a backer of President Grant and then James Garfield. He killed Garfield because he had been denied an ambassadorship. Is a failed commutarian still a commutarian?

Now comes the phrase that renders Coulter’s provocative contention that all assassins are liberals meaningless–“or they had no politics at all.” John Hinckley Jr., the attempted assassin of Ronald Reagan, was simply a deranged person whose personal politics are meaningless. Richard Lawrence, who fired two shots at Andrew Jackson, believed he was King Richard III of England. Based on her membership in the Manson Family, I suppose you could say Squeaky Fromme was a commutarian, as though commutarian was phrase that could be usefully ascribed to a group of drug-addled psychopaths, or that a commutarian philosophy had anything to do with her attempted murder of Ford.

Of course, the figure who undermines Coulter’s argument most thoroughly, who negates it on its face, is the country’s first assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Abraham Lincoln was nothing if not a liberal president–a proponent of a strong central activist government, a pro-business advocate of industrialization, an enemy of slavery, a proponent of a dynamic, multi-ethnic, pro-immigrant society. Booth, of course, was the vainglorious champion of an aristocratic, agrarian, racist slavocracy. Of course, acknowledging this exception would drain Coulter’s thesis of its provocative power, which would in turn make her a more conventional pundit, which would lessen her book sales and lecture fees, and leave her–deservedly–ignored.

Booth, of course, is just one. But so what if right wingers haven’t traditionally figured heavily among presidential assassins? Doesn’t Coulter think that people who have formed lynch mobs, bombed churches, assassinated civil rights leaders, murdered abortion doctors, and bombed office buildings and day care centers are capable?


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  1. collapse expand

    Mr. Malanowski,

    The whole thing is so completely absurd it is not really worth your time to debunk it. In 1976 Gerald Ford told an audience that all of the wars of the 20th century (up until that point anyway) were started by Democrats. He was right, at least in terms of major wars, consider Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy/Johnson. So what does that mean, that Democrats are all war-mongers and Republicans pacifists. Hardly. Let us even suppose that Ms. Coulter’s “facts” are correct, what does that mean? That if Mr. Obama would be assassinated, it would be by a liberal? Or perhaps right-wingers lack the skills and intelligence and thus are incapable of plotting an assassination? Maybe they are just too nice.

    I am sure that there are now 10 times more people who are even aware that Ms. Coulter was even on The Joy Behar Show than than before (I had never even heard of the show).

  2. collapse expand

    Thanks, Jamie. Fact-checking liars gets pretty tedious after a while, no? Still, your piece does so admirably.

  3. collapse expand

    Jamie, you don’t understand. Everything bad that ever happened in recorded history was brought about by the liberals. Communism, Nazism, despotism, slavery, war, depression, bubonic plague, prohibition–all liberal manifestations. Rasputin, Attilla the Hun, Guy Fawkes, Blackbeard the pirate, Caligula, Ty Cobb–liberals all. And Coulter and Glenn Beck can prove it.

  4. collapse expand

    Fact checking is too hard–so as good liberals we need to be selective. Fact checking the president, his advisors,members of congress or any of his appointmnets–TOO HARD.

    Fact checking an SNL skit by CNN–PERFECT!

  5. collapse expand

    Jamie:

    Coulter’s commentary is inane but your Booth narrative is problematic because its ahisorical. The elephant in the room being ignored is the democratic party’s relationship to “people who have formed lynch mobs, bombed churches, assassinated civil rights leaders, murdered abortion doctors, and bombed office buildings” from reconstruction to the civil rights era.

    During that time period the people you label “right-wingers” were actually deeply entwined with the otherwise more progressive party: the democrats…indeed the south was virtually monolithically democratic.

    That’s because the democrats created the KKK in order to terrorize blacks and republicans. As leftist Columbia University historian Eric Foner states, they were “a military force serving the interests of the Democratic Party.” University of North Carolina historian Allen Trelease’s described them as a “terrorist arm of the Democratic Party.” the democrats wanted to expand slavery, including it in their platform 6 times, while the republicans wanted to end it. They created jim crow laws and opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1875. I could go on.

    This racism was deeply entwined with progressive politics. For instance, labor and child welfare laws, Social Security and FDR’s New Deal were created as the result of a “gentleman’s agreement within the Democratic party” (as Tsahai Tafari puts it) to ignore segregation and the lynching. This is why Westminster College historian David W. Southern writes in “The Progressive Era and Race: Reform and Reaction, 1900-1917″ — that racism “went hand-in-hand with the most advanced forms of southern progressivism.” “The ideas of race and color were powerful, controlling elements in progressive social and political thinking… and this fixation on race explains how democratic reform and racism went hand-in-hand.” Indeed, the review of Southern’s book on amazon summerizes: “most northern progressives were either indifferent to the fate of southern blacks or actively supported the social system.”

    In is this context to which I assume Coulter is referring. Her “analysis” is no doubt unfair, as its unclear to what extent if any Booth himself was aligned with the democratic party or progressive politics, but its no more unfair than your decontextualization.

    • collapse expand

      Manju,

      You must remember that in the nineteenth century the parties were reversed and the same is true up into the twentieth century. Republicans were like the Democrats of today and vice versa (Well, I take that back, they weren’t precisely like the Democrats of today, but you get my meaning).

      It seems like the ideals, by the time FDR was President, started to become interwoven, and by the 1960’s the parties started to really switch. The Dems were still holding on to that old routine, but by the seventies they were on the other side. The Republicans had now changed their tune to old ways of the Democrats. The Warren Court proves this. Heck, Kennedy and LBJ in the sixties proves the beginnings of the paradigm shift.

      Another example, if you want to go back further in time *is* Licoln to which Jamie alluded when he brought up Booth. Licoln as we all know was a Republican, but he certainly did not have the ideals that we would consider to be Republican today.

      So we can see how the ideals of the Progressive mind has done a complete 180 over the course of 110-120 years.

      Now, I’m going to confess to you that I don’t remember from my law studies the impetus behind these changes. I have a BA in Religious Studies, and I thought about getting a second degree in law so that I could go into Civil Rights law. However…

      If I’ve missed the boat on this, somebody please help me out, but I think I remember this from all those years ago.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  6. collapse expand

    So the video was removed due to terms of use violation? Which was?

    But I see you still posted your attack piece though. So typical.

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