Ann Coulter, woman

The right's she-devil talks about why she loves the Grateful Dead, what Tolstoy and Dostoevsky taught her about life, and how she meets men.

By David Bowman
Published July 25, 2003 7:00PM (EDT)

Liberals see Ann Coulter as a Republican she-devil with skirts so short you can see her brains. Others view her as the blonde babe savior promised to the American right in the pages of fundamentalist scripture. Ann Coulter is defiantly the last woman in this country still carrying the torch for the long-dead Red baiter Joseph McCarthy. Look at the full moon above Washington, D.C., and see Ann wearing McCarthy's spurs as she rides her broomstick through the hot night.

But that's Coulter as a political creature. What about Coulter as a woman? For years this 40-something woman has worked so hard to become the she-god of the Republican zeitgeist that she's forsaken any personal life. She has no marriage or long-time partner -- her social life consists of sporadic dating. We should worry that she is dooming herself to spinsterhood, rather than assume Coulter practices free love or is still in the closet. Such speculations would be cruel.

And the truth is, Coulter seems sweetly frivolous when she isn't spouting off right wing clichés. Who would have guessed that she doesn't have a clue about American culture? She is under the impression that "Forrest Gump" is a recent flick. She only first saw Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" last year. Like a perpetual grad student, Coulter's favorite books are the pages of pre-Commie Russians. She also follows the Grateful Dead. I'm sure you heard the rumors that Strom Thurmond read Ralph Ellison and dug Miles Davis, so maybe it's true -- members of the right wing have soul.

I do know that after McCarthy died in 1957, doctors cut him open and were astonished that he had no heart beneath his ribs. If you scoop your hand beneath Ann Coulter's left breast, I believe you'll hear the beat of a tender but rather silly schoolgirl's heart.

Coulter spoke to Salon by phone from New York.

I'm looking at the gorgeous photo of you on the cover of your new book "Treason." Is there a difference between Republican beauty and Democratic beauty?

I don't know. I'm not really good at questions like that. I'm much better in the world of ideas. No. I'm sorry. [Pause.] This is something I do have expertise in: I give a lot of college speeches, and half the room is usually angry protesters with placards. Scattered throughout the audience are a few pretty girls here and there, and at the end of the speech it's always the pretty girls that come up to me. Always. In college, any woman is beautiful, and to see these women that don't bathe, don't take care of themselves, don't dress in a way that is vaguely flattering, is like walking into a mining camp. And that seems to be intentional.

Do you look back at yourself when you were that age and wince, or were you attractive?

I don't look back and wince at anything, except there were a few times I could have been tougher on the Democrats.

When I was 18, I had long hair and looked like a goofball. No one would sleep with me. Thankfully, I outgrew that by the time I hit 20.

I think long hair is kind of cute on boys.

I've heard you described as a fundamentalist Christian. Is that true?

I don't think I've described myself that way, but only because I'm from Connecticut. We just won't call ourselves that. I suppose if you broke it down, yeah, I'm a Christian. I'm not sure I particularly disagree with people who do call themselves fundamentalist Christians. It just seems odd, that phraseology.

It's kind of demeaning. It implies you are some sort of illiterate hillbilly.

It has come to be described that way. But even if it weren't, it just seems jarring to someone from Connecticut. The same way it often seems jarring to talk openly about a personal relationship with God.

There's also scripture that says, "You should go pray in your closet and never be public about worship."

I do agree with that. People who carry a five-pound Bible for a photo op in church on Sunday and then go back to the Oval Office to sodomize Monica Lewinsky -- I find public displays of religiosity in that sense really appalling.

Don't you think it is more evil for a Republican to have sex with his intern than a Democrat?

Oh no. No no no no no.

The hypocrisy of it --

I think liberals have turned hypocrisy into the only sin. Not lying. Not cheating on your wife. Not aborting small babies. The only sin out there is hypocrisy because they can always get Republicans on that.

We're all sinners, but Democrats go around saying, "Oh no. We embrace adultery and lying, thus we are not guilty of hypocrisy." And by the way, that is not true of Bill Clinton, a point I keep trying to make to Bill Maher, who seems to think that he and Clinton are soul mates. No. Maher goes around saying, "I'm never going to get married. I'm a horn dog. I hang out at the Playboy mansion." I tell him, "You'll burn in hell." But still he doesn't walk into church and sing with the choir, and talk about "my God."

In fact, I want to start a contest -- now that we can't get rid of the Clintons -- of our favorite Clinton lie. We can have various bonus structures. You get bonus points if you lied while biting your lip and crying. Bonus points lying at a church. A big bonus point lying at a black church. There are so many ways we could start this contest. I think I may start it on my Web page.

Your book is in the upper hemispheres of the bestseller list, sharing it with Hillary, Ben Franklin, the Kennedys and Katharine Hepburn.


The day before Katharine Hepburn died, my wife asked me to define elegance and I just said out of the blue, "Katharine Hepburn."

Also what's her name, the one in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

Audrey Hepburn.

Oh yeah. I'd even put her above Katie Hepburn.

Elegant women make me think about the statue in the Justice Department. The one with the bare breasts that drives Ashcroft so crazy. There is a tradition of single exposed breasts that goes back to ancient Greece, and it has nothing to do with sexuality.

It looks a little bit silly showing John Ashcroft's face next to one female breast. You know the New York Times savagely attacks George Bush for setting up photo ops with a beautiful shot of Mount Rushmore in the background. It seems to matter to the New York Times to run not one, but two photos of the former President Bush throwing up in Japan. [They then complain,] "Bush has his own photographer. Bush arranges press photos to look a particular way."

I have to say you're wrong about the New York Times, 2003. Every morning I read the New York Post, the New York Daily News and the New York Times. Both the Post and the Daily News printed the photograph of George Bush the younger and his wife watching the pair of elephants fornicate in Africa, but the New York Times did not.

I think because it's an action shot.

I don't think Republicans should be embarrassed by the elephants' passion.

Umm. No. It's funny. What's [Bush] going to do about it?

Can Republicans embrace such virility?

I won't go that far. It's not the Mount Rushmore shot! [Laughs.]

But Bush didn't stop the government photographer from doing the "fucking elephants" photo op.

I was going to put up the photo [on my Web site] that Time magazine ran of me two weeks ago as the case in point why Republicans have their own photographers.


Take a look at it.

Was it unflattering?

That does not begin to describe it.

When you wake up in morning, do you have to do massive makeup stuff, or are you fine?

No. That's not the problem. The problem is when I'm drinking and they take the photo. The one best photo of me that's run in any magazine was taken by my brother's 12-year-old babysitter before we all went to a party. She managed with two photos with a disposable camera to get a real flattering photo of me. But professional photographers spend 45 minutes to make sure they have six shots of me talking with my eyes half closed.

You aren't married, are you?


You plan to get married?

I'd have to find the right person.

Is your mother alive?

Both my parents are alive.

So they both must ask you this: "When are you gonna get married?"

Not at all. They're much too excited about my political career.

Oh, that seems like it is so American: "When you gonna have babies and settle down?"

Maybe that's another Connecticut thing.

Do you have a political plan?

A plan?

To run for office.

Oh no no no. I was going to against Jesse Ventura's fraudulent third-party campaign. And knock him out. And get a real Republican in.

Don't you think the aesthetic culture of America is liberal as opposed to Republican?

I don't know what that means.

Only this year was Norman Rockwell acknowledged as a great artist. Before that Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol was what great art was considered to be in America.

I'm not sure I would agree that Norman Rockwell is a great artist. I wouldn't hang any of them on my wall. I don't know that I'd call him a conservative artist.

Do you have art hanging on your walls?

A lot of Spanish art. I spent my summers in Spain growing up. Goya and Velázquez. That sort of thing. I also have very nice print of George Washington.

When you were a teenager did you listen to "devil's music" -- rock 'n' roll?

Not only when I was a teenager. To this day.

So don't you think that pop culture is liberal?

I've never thought about it before. I would make the opposite argument, and I'm not the first one to point this out: The one reason we have no great American novelists is that all the smartest writers from Harvard end up going to Hollywood and writing movies. And if you look at which movies are successful, despite the liberal schlock they stuff down our throats, the movies tend to be family-oriented conservative movies.

Can you give me an example?

"Forrest Gump." On TV, "Touched by an Angel" was fabulously successful. Even "Something About Raymond," which I've only seen a few minutes of (and I don't find it particularly funny). Its runaway popularity is because it is one of the rare shows on TV right now that is not about gay men.

I'll ask two personal questions at once: Do you date? And what do you do for recreation if you do date? Movies? Restaurants?

The only thing I don't do for recreation is go to movies. Sometimes I rent movies, but then you can get a bunch of them, and if you don't like one you can turn it off. I guess that is part of the reason I don't go to movies. So many of them are so bad you don't want to pay $6 and walk out 10 minutes into it. Yes, I date, but from there I will be as honest as Bill Clinton was under oath.

Is one's social life private?

Mine is. Apparently a lot of people's aren't.

The prejudice is that conservatives want to dominate private life, such as dating and your sex life.

That's just preposterous fantasy. It is constantly the blue states oppressing the red states, not the red states oppressing the blue states. It's not like Jerry Falwell is flying to New York and going over the school's curriculum, demanding that we shut down the Halloween parade. To the contrary. It's Malibu and New York and their buddies on the Supreme Court saying, "No prayers in school! No Ten Commandments in the court. Abortion must be legal everyplace." It's a famous story how the Moral Majority got started in the first place -- Christians never really voted. They never paid attention to politics. They lived by themselves. They really didn't think of themselves as Republican or Democrat, but the cultural oppression from the left just got to be too much. And Jerry Falwell started mobilizing against them.

Culturally speaking, trends and taste are like a pendulum in America. They swing right. They swing left. It used to be married couples like Ozzie and Harriet had to sleep in separate beds. Now people get naked on television --

And sodomy is gleefully laughed upon now. I keep telling my friends in Hollywood that I have a novel idea for a new TV show -- "How about a show about a heterosexual couple."

Don't worry. Things are gonna spin back to Beaver Cleaver's America.

One thing I really find amazing is what a religious country this is -- ever since the Pilgrims landed. And all the cultural indicators coming from TV and Hollywood and the Supreme Court and the lefties and Vanity Fair is to constantly make fun of people who believe in God and portray them one step short of a Nazi. Still after 30 years of this, you poll the American people, and 80 percent of them believe in God and regularly go to religious services.

Back in the 18th century, Europeans commented on how God-crazy we were.

That is the point of my book. Liberals are like Europeans; they're secular. I think there is a reason that Hitler could never come to power. As de Tocqueville says, "American religion prevents Americans from doing things that the law doesn't forbid." Back to your original point, about who is the greater oppressor: Who would you rather live under, me or Hillary Clinton?

I'll take the Fifth.

I wouldn't tell you, you couldn't enjoy a little tobacco pleasure at a bar. I've been staying in a modern building in New York ... everything that is unpleasant in life has been brought to us by liberals. One of them is the fact that we can only have two tablespoons of water in our toilet bowls because of some idiotic conservation of water. It's wacky enough for liberals to think about global warming, but that we would run out of natural resources? It rains. The water doesn't go away. Because of liberal government bureaucrats, they decided that we can only have two tablespoons of water in the toilet. You throw half a tissue in the toilet and you have to flush it 16 times.

Haven't you heard of this natural phenomenon called drought? This is the first summer in ages that New York hasn't been on drought alert. It would rain in the city, but not over the damn reservoirs. Was the sky filled with Republican clouds or Democratic ones?

I'm confident that the reservoirs are full after this spring.

How come you're not ranting more with me?

That's just sexist, liberal slander from men as usual. Even though liberals make wild confessions of how they respect women, they really believe women should be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. And when they hear a woman who has an opinion, their response is, "She's angry! She rants!" This is just liberal sexism.

Are you sure?

Yes! You could watch my performances, and consistently I'm a lot lighter. Liberals expect you to roll over: "Shut up and listen to us." If you don't roll over and abandon your long-held beliefs, "How dare you refuse to abandon your position?"

So conservatives are not as sexist as they're portrayed? No one ever says to you, "When are you gonna go get a spatula in your hand and go cook?"

No, they don't, if nothing else because they've been harangued for being sexist so much.

Do you get asked a lot of moral questions? How moral should the government be and what should they stick their noses into?

The government should be absolutely moral, but I think your question goes to--

An interesting sexual issue that concerns Mormons and Traci Lords (who made porn films when she was 16) is at what age is an American girl an American woman? 18? 21? There has to be some sort of governing on it, but--

But it shouldn't come from the federal government. You can look and look and look, but there is actually nothing in the Constitution about abortion or sodomy. By the way, back to my original point, who's jamming whose moral values down the rest of the country's throat? There's nothing in the Constitution one way or another. It doesn't forbid abortion and it doesn't permit abortion. It doesn't forbid sodomy. It doesn't command sodomy. Who's winning that one?

But I'm thinking that there has to be a national consensus on the issue of age. It's not like American girls should be able to be married or make kiddie porn in Utah. The government has to say, "You are a child and you are not responsible..."

There's no reason the federal government has to say any of this. There is no reason we have to have a department of education. There is no reason we have to have the federal government saying how many gallons of water we can have in our toilets.

So where do gay rights fit in America?

I've never really thought about it and I've never really cared. I resent having this elevated to a national issue.

So it should be a local issue?


Where do you live?

Miami Beach.

That's a pretty gay community.

I say again, there are a lot of things that may be very fine, even good -- eating kumquats, lots of vitamin C. There is nothing in the Constitution about it. What is this--

Ah! Nebraska might legislate a No Queer Zone, but I'm sure your neighbors in Miami Beach would support gay rights.

I hate having this argument foisted on me by the Supreme Court. Part of what democracy allows you to do is to not give a damn about some issues. What protects homosexual behavior is the Fourth Amendment, which prevents police from going into your home without a search warrant or court order. The idea that the Supreme Court will save us from cops knocking down doors and busting through the walls is absurd, is just preposterous. It was an odd fluke. It happened twice in 20 years that cops had a reason to go into someone's home protected by the Fourth Amendment and happened to catch people in the act of committing sodomic acts.

There are a lot of outdated moral laws in each community.

Who says they're outdated? You do.

OK, so it's up to the community to decide whether or not to burn queers in the public square...

Right. That preserved the maximum freedom.

What percentage of the interviews that you do are hostile or lukewarm?

It's funny you say that. It's hard to tell. It's always an exciting surprise. I usually quickly check what city I'm speaking in. When you're doing 17 interviews a day from very small radio stations ... I won't be having any covers on Time magazine, but I can talk to 300 people in Poughkeepsie. And in retrospect it's hard for me to say. I don't know -- 60-40 conservative.

So I'll just be frank and ask this -- you're so beautiful, do reporters hit on you?

I don't think so. If they do, I haven't noticed.

I guess a form of hitting would be ideological. To get you to admit something liberal.

Wow. That would be the wrong way to go about it. If they want to hit on me, they have to start talking like right-wing loonies.

One of the great cultural battles in America is between the elites and the riffraff. There's Jerry Springer and there's PBS.

I would not draw that distinction. I think PBS is about the same. I think the key to liberalism is elitism and snobbery and excluding people. This is Tina Brown and Hillary Clinton and Vanity Fair. And the reason they don't really care about fighting the war on terrorism is like some of their insane public policy decisions -- they think it will be limited to the outer boroughs. It really is not that much fun to have your starched white shirt and feeling above other people if other people are an emerging wealthy middle class.

What middle class? The middle class is shrinking...

That's because the liberals want the middle class to be in squalor and mayhem, and their [the liberals'] children will live in gated communities and go to private schools. Liberals just cannot grasp that nuclear annihilation cannot be confined to the outer boroughs.

Where has our fear of nukes gone?

That's a good question. I wish liberals were as cavalier with the danger of nukes as they are about the danger of Saddam Hussein acquiring them. "No, we've got to have proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And every single intelligence agency in the universe has got to agree that he has been seeking yellowcake uranium up until five minutes before we attack." If liberals would apply half that much skepticism to the danger of nuclear power in America, then we wouldn't have to worry about greenhouse gases.

So I've spoken to you for an hour and I haven't mention Tony Blair. [He met with Bush that morning.]

Isn't he magnificent?

What's your take on him?

I think he is a model for liberals in this country. Why don't we have any liberals like that? This is what the Democratic Party should be. Why can't they be for all their other little issues -- gay marriage, abortion, confiscatory taxes -- but agree to defend America? Blair is the one patriotic liberal in the world.

Don't you think he's kinda sexy too?

Oh no!


No no no.

I'm a guy, so what do I know?

He has been a magnificent leader and the British are lucky to have him.

Just to be mischievous -- who is the most handsome conservative you can think of?

Matt Drudge.

Seriously? Have you met him?

We've fast friends.

You two get it on?

Oh no no. I'll be as honest about my dating life as Clinton was about his.

How does someone start dating you? You're a public figure now.

Despite my claims to secrecy, the last three or four boyfriends I have had are people that I met because I bumped into them on the street. Or they came up to me on an airplane. I don't meet people in normal ways anymore. That isn't so much because I'm a public figure -- it's because I'm constantly sitting at my computer working. So you really have to catch me as I'm dashing out to buy a diet Coke.

I'll ask you again: You want a political career?

No, they have no fun. They have to be diplomatic. One of the things that drove me crazy about America's greatest president, Ronald Reagan, was he was constantly had to make references to FDR. You have to do that if you're a politician, that same way that George Bush has to describe Islam as a "nation of peace." I don't have to do that.

Who do you admire who is dead?

Joe McCarthy.

Oh, I meant a writer.

Who's dead?

We'll start with dead guys. Or dead chicks.



I'm having trouble thinking of dead versus alive. I admire Clare Booth Luce. Paul Johnson, he's alive. I love P.J. O'Rourke. My liberal friends point out I like Emerson and Thoreau. Right now I avoid reading other political writers because I don't want their take to influence me, so I just read the straight news.

That's like, all my life I've lived for cultural... when I was 20 I'd spend five nights a week going to double features of old movies. I lived for books and music. But now that I'm older, art can no longer change my life. Every movie or new rock 'n' roll group seems derivative of what I've already experienced...

Right. That's why I love the Grateful Dead. You could listen to the same songs at a hundred different Dead shows and it would sound different.

You're a Deadhead!

Oh yes.

You've been to different shows?


At some point music was very important to you. But movies never were--

I'm catching up on my Hollywood history. I tape movies off TV. I'm way behind. I was just telling some of my friends a couple of years ago, "You got to see this movie 'It's a Wonderful Life.' It's so great." But I'm catching up.

What about novels?

I hesitate to say this because it sound pretentious and stupid, and I'm trying to think of something more normal and American, but I really like "Anna Karenina." The reason I like it is, it really is just a brilliant take on human nature, being able to get into different people's perspectives. One of the scenes I like the most -- I don't even remember their names -- there is the pretty boy and the farmer both seeking the attentions of the young girl. The pretty boy is flashy, and all the women think he is so dashing, and he's slick. The farmer is good solid stock, with a good living and a good heart, but not really flashy and smooth, and, you know, the sort of unsophisticated type. And of course the mother is all for the first guy and is encouraging the daughter to go for the flashy guy with no substance. The father realizes what's going on and is exasperated that his wife is encouraging the daughter to go for flash, not substance. Of course in the end, the father is right. And every aspect of that -- although my mother is not that frivolous -- seems to bear out your personal experience. [Pause.] And you don't want your male friends to meet anyone youre dating because they can see through the flimflam in a heartbeat.

From "The Brothers Karamazov" -- one of the greatest lines, the drunken old angry father says of someone who hates him, "He did me a bad turn and I can forgive him, but he will always hate me because he did me a bad turn." That is completely true. People can forgive you, but they can never forgive themselves. And they hate to be reminded if they've screwed you.

At what age did these things hit you?

Just through life. That's the thing about good literature. It strikes you when you read it -- that someone has actually put into words something you had a vague sensation of.

My two greatest American writers are F. Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Chandler.

One of my best friends is a huge aficionado of Raymond Chandler. I have never read Raymond Chandler. I should break down and do it.

What about "The Great Gatsby"?

You know, I started that and thought it was kind of a bore, myself.

David Bowman

David Bowman is the author of the novel "Bunny Modern" and the nonfiction book "This Must Be the Place: The Adventures of the Talking Heads in the 20th Century."

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