Q.&A.--; Ann Coulter

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Ann Coulter has built a successful career out of giving voice to America's angry right.

The author of five New York Times best-sellers since 1998-including Slander (2002), Treason (2003), and her latest whack at the political hornet's nest, Godless: The Church of Liberalism (Crown Forum), currently No. 4 on the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list.

Coulter, a Universal Press Syndicate columnist who once practiced law, is well known for producing insults so outrageously offensive that they disturb even some conservatives.

She's accused the widows of 9/11 victims of enjoying their husbands' deaths, has attacked public school teachers as "taxpayer-supported parasites" and routinely slams moderate politicians - right and left.

A frequent guest on news shows like Fox's Hannity and Colmes and CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, Coulter often leaves enemies steaming, fans applauding, and just about everyone, at some point or other, thinking, "I can't believe she said that."

From one column: "Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like liberals do. If they had that much energy, they'd have indoor plumbing by now." On the 9/11 terrorists: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity." And from last week: "I knew the events in the Middle East were big when the New York Times devoted nearly as much space to them as it did to a ... court ruling rejecting gay marriage."

Coulter recently argued that the New York Times committed treason when it exposed the SWIFT banking program that secretly tracked financial transactions. If reasonable people might be willing to debate that point, many failed to see the humor in her corollary remark that Bill Keller, the Times executive editor who made the decision to publish, deserves execution.

"I wonder if [Coulter] considers herself at all responsible when lunatics read her columns and she says ... we should all be killed," a Women's Wear Daily reporter quoted a Times staffer as saying last week.

In the end, Coulter's attacks on the Times and others often end up drawing more attention - which some see as Coulter's overarching scheme.

It's something she takes joy in. Liberals "can't help themselves," she told the New York Observer. "They're like my pets."

In Godless, Coulter argues that the left, with its generally secular worldview, has adopted a de facto religion of its own. The adherents of this faith, liberalism, treat those who question its "sacraments" (abortion, evolution, public education) as heretics.

Do the very ideas enrage you? If so, Coulter may be pleased. "Provocation is the essence of persuasion," she told The Sun three years ago.

Jonathan Freedland of the British newspaper The Guardian concludes that she may, in the end, be less about politics than the sheer, American magnitude of her spectacle.

"She has a magnetism that sets her apart from the bulk of the talking-head industry," he wrote. "Once you see her, it's hard to look away. Like a train wreck or a prize fight, something about Ann Coulter makes you sit up and look."

This week, The Sun took a gander.

Does anything surprise you about the reception of Godless, which debuted at No. 1? What does it tell you?

I'm not particularly surprised by the book's sales success, nor by the fact that the New York Times is pretending [it] doesn't exist. All of my books have been huge bestsellers, so I'm beginning to suspect that there's some interest out there in what I have to say.

You're a harsh critic of the press. You say reporters often misquote you. What are a couple of examples?

It happens so much I don't keep track ... anymore. ... I have no idea how [this] happens, given the strict objectivity and rigid nonpartisanship of the American media.

What two or three big news stories has the press overplayed or misrepresented in the past few years?

It would be simpler to name the two or three stories the press did not overplay or misrepresent. Either every single person working in the media today is thoroughly incompetent in every way, or this massive, daily misrepresentation is the result of left-wing bias throughout the media. I'll let you decide which ... is the most plausible.

You often speak and write in a way that seems calculated to press the buttons of your audience. What are the pluses and the downsides of this approach?

My thinking is that only trauma produces intellectual breakthroughs. The plus side is watching liberals get hissy; the downside is - there really is no downside.

Your books and columns attack liberal thinking, but what, in the long run, are you trying positively to assert? What would Ann Coulter's America look like?

I'm exposing liberal ideology for the pack of lies it is. What people do with that information is up to them, although one would hope it might come in handy on Election Day. My ideal America would have no liberals and 7-gallon flush toilets in every bathroom.

You're often described as "divisive" and "mean-spirited," yet you describe yourself as a serious Christian. Is this a contradiction?

I'm a Christian first and a mean-spirited, bigoted conservative second, and don't you ever forget it. You know who else was kind of "divisive" in terms of challenging the status quo and the powers-that-be of his day? Jesus Christ.

Does polemical writing like yours widen the Red State-Blue State schism?

The imminence of conservative victory has driven liberals to insanity. Have I contributed to this? Gosh, I hope so.

How'd you develop your writing style? What are your daily writing habits?

I do what comes naturally. I write the things that would cause belly laughter among my right-wing friends when having after-dinner liquor. I usually get up at noon, check the Drudge Report, carefully read the Treason Times, do a little writing, chat with my friends until midnight, write for another three hours and then collapse into bed at 4 a.m. Book tours completely ruin this idyllic schedule.

Did you really "acknowledge" being the sender of that packet of strange white powder that showed up at the New York Times building recently? Do you regret your stated wish that the 9/11 hijackers had hit it?

That acknowledgment was an example of what is known in the writing business as a "joke." I never did say I regretted that the 9/11 terrorists didn't hit the New York Times building. But now that you mention it ...

You ripped President Bush for the Harriet Miers nomination. How's he doing now?

Much better. He hasn't nominated a functional illiterate to the highest court in the land in, like, months.

What will be the George W. Bush legacy?

Mainly the fact that he didn't spend eight years trying to build a legacy, like some other people I could name. Also, there will be more people living in peace and freedom when W. leaves office than there were when W. took office.

Whom would you pick as the 2008 Republican candidate for president?

My pick so far is the guy in Philly who put up the "this is America - please order in English" sign in his sandwich shop. Hey, at least the guy has a coherent immigration policy.

If you were a Democrat and wanted to win, whom would you pick?

If I were a Democrat, I wouldn't have an opinion on this. I'd wait until one candidate emerged from the pack as a front-runner, then pretend I'd been supporting that candidate all along, like the sniveling, gutless little America-hater I would be if I were a Democrat. You're a Grateful Dead fan. Is that odd for a conservative?

No, we conservatives love great music. What would be odd is if I liked the Dixie Chicks.

What film have you enjoyed recently?

The best video I've seen was of Bush saying "s - - t" at the G-8 conference.

If you could change anything you've written, would you?

Yes. On a couple of occasions, I was too gentle.

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