By MARC McDONALD
I'd never thought I'd hear myself saying this, but, in a way, Ann Coulter is brilliant and I think the Left in this country could learn a thing or two from her.
Bear in mind, I'm not praising Coulter's nutcase, Neo-Nazi, right-wing ramblings that she spews forth periodically in her books and articles. I'm talking about her technique. I think the Left has a lot to learn from the technique employed by Coulter (as well as the rest of the Fox News/Limbaugh/O'Reilly/Talk Radio GOP propaganda machine).
Let me explain:
In doing the publicity rounds to promote her latest piece-of-filth missive, Coulter generated a lot of (predictable and tiresome) publicity over a few choice excerpts from her book that attacked some of the widows of 9/11 victims.
"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis," Coulter wrote. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."
The furor over Coulter's comments about the 9/11 widows focused exclusively on the nasty attacks like the preceding passage. What you didn't hear in the media debate was much discussion of Coulter's main complaint about the 9/11 widows: namely that they were "using their grief in order to make a political point while preventing anyone from responding."
Among other targets, Coulter took aim at Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in the Iraq War. Coulter claimed that when Sheehan speaks out, no one is allowed to challenge or respond to her.
This is the central point in Coulter's argument: if you lost a loved one on 9/11 or in the War in Iraq, you're allowed to say whatever you want and no one on the Right can respond.
There's only one problem. As usual, Coulter is full of crap. If indeed, no one is allowed to respond to Cindy Sheehan, then it would seem like there's a few folks on the Right who didn't get Coulter's memo.
Sheehan, was in fact "responded to" by the Right. Was she ever. She was the recipient of a massive, ugly tidal wave of Right Wing hatred, venom, insults and death threats.
In fact, I'd bet money that most Americans are not even aware of Sheehan's message, or what she's had to say about Bush and the Iraq War. By contrast, 99 percent of what has flooded the nation's airwaves about Sheehan hasn't been her own message, but rather the Right's extraordinary attacks on her.
Despite what Coulter says, the Right has always felt free to respond to, and attack, anyone who dared to question Bush, the government's response to 9/11, or the Iraq War.
However, by claiming that the Right is somehow prevented from responding to Bush's critics, Coulter has engaged in a brilliant piece of political strategy that I think the Left ought to study and learn from.
To sum up Coulter's technique: Siege Mentality.
You see, the Right has a bit of a problem right now. It controls all branches of government: the White House, the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court. It controls the corporate mainstream media. It controls a majority of federal judgeships and most of the governorships in the U.S.
This raises a challenge for the GOP: how to motivate and rally the troops when you already have all the levers of power?
This is where siege mentality comes in. If you want to rally the troops, pretend that you're actually struggling and that you desperately need all the support you can get. Exaggerate the power of your opponent. Pretend that your hands are tied. Act as though the Left is dominant and has unbridled power---even to the point where liberals can prevent you from responding to those who would "lie" about President Bush.
I think today's Republican Party is, in a word, evil. It's the most evil major political party that has emerged in a First World nation since World War II. The GOP not only poses a major threat to working-class Americans, it is also a major threat to the rest of the world.
But there's an old saying "In order to defeat your enemy, you must know him." If the Left is ever going to regain power from the GOP, we must understand their bare-knuckled strategies and take the gloves off ourselves. I don't see that happening with today's Dems.
A lot of the Democrats I see are already smug about winning in November. Apparently, they believe that, just because Bush's approval ratings are in the toilet and the nation has gone to hell in a handbasket, that this alone means it's the Dems turn to run Congress.
But the Dems have seriously underestimated the GOP, time and time again. Despite the fact that they control all the levers of power, it's the GOP that has all the rage, anger and passion these days and it's the GOP that is working furiously to rally the troops, using techniques like Coulter's siege mentality. I get the feeling that, come November, once again the Democrats will wonder what hit them.