Two recently published books, Of Thee I Zing by Laura Ingraham and Demonic by Ann Coulter, remind us of how much their lively and intelligent authors have brought to news comment and the spirit of public-policy discussion in America. They are certainly not interchangeable in their personalities or their opinions, and I fuse them here only because they are recent authors already high on the New York Times bestseller list, though that is not a newspaper that reviews their books or often has a cordial word to say about them. (The Times did run a relatively civil feature piece some months ago about Ms. Coulter after she was well received as a paid speaker to a gay group and effectively debunked the theory that she is a gay-basher.)
What they have in common is that they are both attractive, blonde, witty, never-married, heterosexual, practicing Christian, conservative women commentators who have hugely enlivened political discourse. Laura Ingraham is a radio-talk-show host, frequent fill-in host for O’Reilly and others, and frequent guest on various conservative news-comment programs. She has adopted three children, two from Russia and one from Central America, and is a convert to Roman Catholicism.
Ann Coulter is a more frequent author, produces a lively weekly column, and uses frequent television guest appearances with Hannity and other conservative commentators to promote her books. Where Ms. Ingraham is a day-in, day-out radio and TV host, and takes all comers among radio callers, always with great vivacity of wit, Ms. Coulter is less constantly before the public but is a specialist in shocking the heavy-footed liberal lumpenbourgeoisie.
Coulter attracts greater leftish opprobrium because of her more frequent recourse to reflections that she well knows will, as she says, “stir the pot.” Thus, John Edwards was a “faggot,” by which, she explained, she only meant a “wuss,” and Christians were “perfected Jews” because the New Testament was “like Federal Express.” When an airline was boycotted for yielding to passenger concerns and disembarking six Muslim imams before takeoff, she said that if the Muslims would boycott all the airlines, there would be no need for any airport security. And when a Muslim questioner objected to this comment at one of her speeches, in Canada, she replied, “Take a camel.” More of a jolt to conventional sensibilities was her lamentation that Timothy McVeigh did not bomb the New York Times building instead of a federal building in Oklahoma, after, she explained as the intended controversy erupted, “everyone had left the building except the editors and reporters.” The mindless reflexiveness with which the soft Left responds to Coulter, especially, is premeditated by her and is a vastly entertaining send-up of the boring, high-minded liberals that she can turn on like a spigot at will, to her own amusement and profit.
Despite the constant grumbling of detractors, both are formidable in debate and are very well-informed and forensically capable. Both are well-educated lawyers (Dartmouth and Virginia for Ingraham, Cornell and Michigan Law for Coulter) and clerked for senior judges, and both are accomplished showmen, including in their book covers: On Ingraham’s latest, her face is on George Washington crossing the Delaware. Coulter has been, among other guises, a leather-vested, authoritarian school teacher on one of hers. Despite the shrill efforts of Rachel Maddow and others on the left, these two, in particular, have cornered the market in vigorous female political opinion for the Right and have been un-dislodgeable for a decade.