Over the weekend, reader HM informed me via e-mail that the Nixon Library had posted on its website an article by Ann Coulter which was even slightly more repulsive than the standard Coulter filth. It was entitled The Democratic Party: A Vast Sleeper Cell, and contrasted "normal Americans" (who loved Richard Nixon and love Republicans now) with Americans who cheer for enemies of the U.S. and support Democrats. I added an update about that to Sunday's post, which discussed the standard political tactic used by Bush followers to depict liberals as abnormal freaks (notwithstanding the fact that such efforts are led by people like James Taranto and Rush Limbaugh).
Apparently, numerous readers complained to the Nixon Foundation and, as a result, I received this e-mail yesterday, from Tim Naftali, Director of the Nixon Presidential Materials Staff:
Dear Mr. Greenwald:
I read your blog posting on Salon.com of March 11, 2007, entitled "Our right-wing arbiters of masculinity". Several readers, prompted by this article, have contacted me regarding the Ann Coulter column on http://www.nixonlibrary.org. Some have been concerned that tax dollars have gone to support that Web site and that the federal government endorses the content on that Web site.
I would like you and your readers to know that http://www.nixonlibrary.org is owned and operated by the private Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace. That private institution is distinct and separate from the federal Nixon Presidential Materials Staff, a part of the National Archives and Records Administration, which will, later this year, take over the management of the Nixon library and that Web site.
Officials at the private Nixon foundation tell us that they posted the Coulter article several weeks ago because it contained references to President Nixon and his Vietnam policy. I understand that the Coulter article and the link have now been removed.
Please inform your readers that the future federal Nixon library will be nonpartisan. Our current Web site is http://nixon.archives.gov.
Director, Nixon Presidential Materials Staff Director-Designate, Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
P.S. If you have any further questions, please contact me directly at: (xxx) xxx-xxxx.
The page on which that Coulter column appeared is now blank.
That is obviously a tiny issue in the scheme of things, but this was something accomplished by readers on their own, acting independently, and it is worth noting that the blogosphere spawns small changes like this on a daily basis. The work of Greg Sargent and others -- mostly driven by blog readers acting on their own -- in persuading newspapers to drop Coulter's column is an excellent example. Like most incremental change, it is difficult to see when it is occurring, but -- as the successful effort to force Democrats to withdraw from the Fox News debate most recently demonstrated -- the ability of the blogosphere to engender change and mold the way people think about political issues is real and it is growing.