I had left the ballroom yesterday right after Romney spoke and I only just now watched the Coulter video. (I presume her hook was the recent Gray’s Anatomy dust-up that sent Isaiah Washington to rehab.) The Edwards remark was obviously ridiculous and shouldn’t have been said. It’s unnecessary, damaging stuff. But really, is anyone suprised Ann said something she really shouldn’t have? Something that would get her a blog buzz? Something that would give Howard Dean a job?
As for Republicans having to denounce her: Mitt Romney spoke before her (and was out of the room by the time she made her “joke”) and his line was (I paraphrase from memory): I’m glad to see Ann Coulter will be on next. We need more moderate voices. That was a smart line — a little red meat for the Coulter fans while keeping some distance, acknowledging she’s prone to say things that are out there (no pun intended).
What bothers me so much about her column — as Ann Coulter as it was — was that it takes away from some good things that were said yesterday. And — like him, buy him, or not — it stands in such contrast with the tone that Romney takes — a respectful tone in talking about such sensitive, painful, but fundamental issues.
This is what I wrote in a column a few months ago:
Whether he finds himself about to move into the White House two years from now, Romney already has contributed a great deal to the debate over marriage in the United States with the tone of his principled rhetoric. At a recent evangelical rally, the Mormon took back some of the left’s monopoly on “the children.” He said,
The price of same-sex marriage is paid by children. Our fight for marriage, then, should focus on the needs of children, not the rights of adults.
In fact, as Americans, I believe that we should show an outpouring of respect and tolerance for all people, regardless of their differences or their different choices. We must vigorously reject discrimination and bigotry. We are all God’s children. He abhors none of us.
Romney, as it happens, became a compelling opponent of gay marriage only when he had to study the issue and deal with it on the frontlines, as governor of Massachusetts — a fact that, if he makes his case convincingly and consistently, may ultimately make him a more effective candidate and advocate for marriage protection. Fact is, gay marriage isn’t an issue most like to have to talk about. Any sense that people are being deprived rights rightfully makes many squeamish. But marriage is fundamentally what it is — between a man and a woman. As Romney put it in a letter to U.S. senators this summer as they were taking up a federal marriage amendment: “Americans are tolerant, generous and kind people. We all oppose bigotry and disparagement, and we all wish to avoid hurtful disregard of the feelings of others. But the debate over same-sex marriage is not a debate over tolerance. It is a debate about the purpose of the institution of marriage.”
If conservatives can articulate that — something kinder and gentler than the caricature of gay-marriage opponents — we may just get somewhere. It’s a pretty decent proposal.
Ann’s comment obviously doesn’t articulate that. But CPAC also didn’t have there to change the tone of American politics.
Meanwhile, John Edwards seems to be making use of it — using Ann Coulter as a fundraising tool. Smart! Expect Ann to be on Fox News looking for a thank you next week.