A day after Elizabeth Edwards' riveting "Hardball" confrontation with Hate Lady Ann Coulter, the right is crying foul. Just as Coulter did, her defenders are whining that Edwards is trying to censor the conservative queen of mean. Plus, she has the audacity to use Coulter to raise money for her husband's presidential campaign! And she's using her cancer, too! It's so unfair! (Jon Swift has perfect pitch about it.)
But seriously, where to begin?
First of all, Coulter has to get her stories straight. One minute she was bragging to MSNBC's Chris Matthews about how the Edwards controversy -- if you didn't hear about it, she called the Democratic candidate a "faggot" earlier this year -- is helping to sell her awful books; minutes later she was braying about how Elizabeth Edwards was trying to keep her from selling, or even writing, her awful books. Which is it, Ann?
Then there's the great irony of my favorite blowhard, Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center, complaining that Edwards' attack "is part of the liberals' plan to squash free speech by conservatives. They want to silence Coulter, as well as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin, and many others. Hugo Chavez does this type of censoring in Venezuela -- but in America, we don't." The frothing Bozell continues: "Liberals don't believe in free exchange, tolerance, or the marketplace of ideas. They believe in the iron boot of liberalism stamping out any view that upsets the liberal apple cart." This from the man who bought an extra 15 minutes of fame bragging about his inflated role in ending CBS anchor Dan Rather's career for Rather's alleged liberalism.
Jealous Jules Crittenden, who'd like to be a male Ann Coulter, is trying to get some me-too attention by being vicious about Edwards' cancer. Here's how he describes Edwards' reaction to her diagnosis of Stage 4 breast cancer: "Gets cancer, says screw it and that family thing, takes the cancer and the kids on the road, stays out there for John, who apparently we need running our country that bad." Nice to know Edwards is screwing "that family thing" by supporting her husband's desire to be president. Women can't win with these right-wingers. Somebody needs to write a "What to expect when you have cancer" so that we'll know what rules we're breaking if we decide to back our husbands rather than take to our beds when illness strikes.
Meanwhile, MSNBC is enjoying the whole thing. Matthews got a lot of liberal criticism for agreeing to have the Hate Lady back on his show after she called Al Gore a "total fag" last July. His reply didn't help: "Say what you will, she sells books." Then Matthews pissed off the right by allowing Edwards to phone in to confront Coulter. Now MSNBC's Pat Buchanan is blasting Matthews for "setting up" poor Hate Lady, and blasting Edwards for using Coulter to raise money. Let's get this straight: Everybody's using everyone here. MSNBC is pushing its shows, Coulter is peddling her books (along with hate), and the Edwards campaign is making lemonade out of Coulter's lemons by raising money around Elizabeth's move yesterday.
And I'm peddling Salon by going on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" tonight to yell at Buchanan about it. But it's not just shilling: I'm tired of the way the right interrupts its regular programming -- bullying and intimidation -- to play victim when someone like Elizabeth Edwards stands up and shows that bullying doesn't work. And of how so much of the media lets them get away with it.