The next time a Republican wraps himself in 9/11 or uses a soldier as a prop -- the next time George W. Bush watches a 9/11 movie with 9/11 families, the next time he invites the father of a fallen soldier to join him in throwing out a first pitch, the next time he appears before a backdrop of soldiers, PhotoShopped or not, the next time he participates in a staged chat with troops in the field, the next time his party holds its national political convention within shouting distance of ground zero, the next time the mother of a fallen soldier turns up in Laura Bush's box at the State of the Union address, the next time Dick Cheney suggests that questioning the president's Iraq policy somehow equates to undercutting the troops -- remember this: It's the Democrats, not the Republicans, who do this sort of thing.
Just ask Ann Coulter.
In her new book, Coulter says that Democrats unfairly hide their faulty arguments behind people whose authentic pain is so deep that you can't really debate policy with them. The 9/11 widows are at the top of Coulter's list, but so too is Cindy Sheehan, whose son died in the Iraq war. On the "Today" show this morning, Coulter managed to add former ambassador Joseph Wilson to the list, too, although we're not sure how he fits into the case that Coulter is trying to make.
The core of Coulter's point isn't necessarily wrong: It is a little unseemly to argue facts and consequences with somebody who can claim the high moral ground that comes from personal devastation. But a Republican like Coulter is hardly in any place to make such an argument, and there's no call at all for making it in the nasty way that she does. In her book, Coulter writes of the 9/11 widows: "These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted like the terrorist attack only happened to them. They believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony ... These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-parrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husbands' death so much."
Does she really mean all of this? That's the question that Matt Lauer put to Coulter this morning. And yes, she said, she does. Think Progress has the video. Here's the transcript:
Coulter: This is the left's doctrine of infallibility. If they have a point to make about the 9/11 Commission, about how to fight the war on terrorism, how about sending in somebody we are allowed to respond to. No. No. No. We have to respond to someone who had a family member die. Because then if we respond, oh you are questioning their authenticity.
Lauer: So grieve but grieve quietly?
Coulter: No, the story is an attack on the nation. That requires a foreign policy response.
Lauer: By the way, they also criticized the Clinton administration.
Coulter: Not the ones I am talking about. No, no, no.
Lauer: Yeah they have.
Coulter: Oh no, no, no, no, no. They were cutting commercials for Kerry. They were using their grief to make a political point while preventing anyone from responding.
Lauer: So if you lose a husband, you no longer have the right to have a political point of view?
Coulter: No, but don't use the fact that you lost a husband as the basis for being able to talk about, while preventing people from responding. Let Matt Lauer make the point. Let Bill Clinton make the point. Don't put up someone I am not allowed to respond to without questioning the authenticity of their grief.
Lauer: Well apparently you are allowed to respond to them.
Coulter: Yeah, I did.
Lauer: So, in other words.
Coulter: That is the point of liberal infallibility. Of putting up Cindy Sheehan, of putting out these widows, of putting out Joe Wilson. No, no, no. You can't respond. It's their doctrine of infallibility. Have someone else make the argument then.
Lauer: What I'm saying is, I don't think they have ever told you, you can't respond.
Coulter: Look, you are getting testy with me.
Lauer: No. I think it's a dramatic statement. "These broads are millionaires stalked by grief-parrazies"? "I have never seen people enjoying their husband's deaths so much."
Coulter: Yes, they are all over the news.
So too, unfortunately, is Ann Coulter.