Time, Coulter and the State of the Discourse
Time puts Ann Coulter on the cover, and everybody goes nuts.
For what it's worth, you can read the TIME piece online here, though I haven't yet and I doubt I will. There's also some blogging from Eric "What Liberal Media?" Alterman here and here. Also, there's a really interesting interview with David Lee, the author, at CJRDaily here.
I dunno; I expect the piece is fluff, and that neither surprises nor disappoints me. I guess I expect magazines like Time and Newsweek to mostly have fluff, these days. I mean, over the last two years or so, I've seen a half-dozen covers on "The True Story of Christmas" or somesuch nonsense. I don't know anyone who seriously expects Time or Newsweek to have the political cachet of The Economist, or even The New York Times.
I'm more interested in Lee's interview in CJRDaily. Basically, what he says boils down to "The whole 'discourse' thing sucks. What am I, lowly reporter Dave, supposed to do about that? If I can't beat 'em, I'm supposed to join 'em, right?"
Hey, maybe it's the circles I travel in. We don't have "Support the Troops" magnets; I have a blue hippie peace sign car magnet. (Besides, isn't their some irony in "supporting" the troops, by sending them into harm's way?) Alhough, I did take down the one that said "9-11 was a faith-based initiative", since I realized that it could be taken the wrong way. See? I'm sensitive to the discourse, man.
But, yesterday, driving around I saw a bumper-sticker that said, "liberal: N; someone who's mind is so open that their brain has fallen out." Get it? Liberals are brainless morons. Ha. Hahahahaha.
I mean, I remember when the mud was mostly being thrown by and at politicians. In '92, the bumper stickers and magnets said things like "Annoy the media, re-elect Bush". See? Nobody gets hurt.
I've lost count of how many times O'Reilly, Rush or Coulter has said that "liberals hate America". (I'd think the irony of making such commentary would be enough to choke an ox.)
Liz's car has a button that says, "Sushi eating, latte sipping LIBERAL". Neither seem to hurt anyone; no feathers are ruffled. Which wouldn't be funny if no one had ever made an insult out of it.
I'm not sure how to help. I don't think a fluff article on Ann Coulter masquerading as a critique on modern American political dialogue does anything. Except, maybe, stoke the fires and make things worse. (The Conservatives hate Time for the "over-sexed" cover; the Liberals hate it for, well... more obvious reasons.)
Even Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire has been swallowed in its own media circus: The clip was massively downloaded online, and it became exactly the sort of media spectacle that Stewart was, in fact, criticizing in the clip.
To me, a substance-free cover story on Ann Coulter seems to exemplify the sort of vacuous "debate" that Lee himself thinks we've abandoned. Was he really trying to make a point here, or just join in the fray?
What I'll say is that I think Eric Alterman and Ann Coulter engage in the same kind of debate. They don't often make actual arguments. Instead, they throw names around. This is the point of my article. This is the way politics is engaged in debate now. And I think that his response to my article proves our point that this kind of dialogue, which is the Ann Coulter kind of dialogue, now holds sway.