Thursday, February 19, 2004

Ann Coulter: Round Two

To her credit, in her new column Anne Coulter tries to set us and herself straight. She's only somewhat successful.

Essentially, Coulter takes the opportunity to pretend that people were angered with her column because they choose to believe Cleland lost his limbs on the battlefield. Wrong. They're angry because of the callous, flippant manner in which she described both his horrific accident and his subsequent service for his country.

First, Coulter ignores the fact that her original article omits any mention of Max Cleland's actual bravery on the battlefield, days before his accident--the bravery for which he was awarded a Silver Star.

Furthermore, her tone is markedly different now when she discusses Cleland's horrific accident:
The poignant truth of Cleland's own accident demonstrates the commitment and bravery of all members of the military who come into contact with ordnance. Cleland's injury was of the routine variety that occurs whenever young men and weapons are put in close proximity -- including in the National Guard.
"Poignant truth." That's a whole lot different than this flip remark: "Luckily for Cleland's political career and current pomposity about Bush, he happened to do it [blow his limbs off] while in Vietnam."

And then there was this: "Indeed, if Cleland had dropped a grenade on himself at Fort Dix rather than in Vietnam, he would never have been a U.S. senator in the first place. Maybe he'd be the best pharmacist in Atlanta, but not a U.S. senator." In this newest column, Coulter points out that Cleland once said something similar himself, saying "probably been some frustrated history teacher, teaching American government at some junior college."

Clearly the context is different. Cleland's tone was self-deprecating. Coulter's was malicious.

Coulter finishes her piece cogently enough:
Cleland's true heroism came after the war, when he went on to build a productive life for himself. That is a story of inspiration and courage. He shouldn't let the Democrats tarnish an admirable life by "sexing up" his record in order to better attack George Bush.
Agreed. Let's all call a spade a spade. But don't belittle a man's condition simply because he disagrees with your perspective.

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