I admit I do sometimes find Ann Coulter wickedly funny. Yet, the last 8 years or so she seems to be ramping up the rhetoric and the outrageousness and the cheap shots–and falling completely flat. More shrill, less funny. Why is this? The vitriol about Latinos and immigration in particular seems unhinged. Her latest race book? Eye-rollingly terrible. Or maybe I’m just jealous, if I’d known merely pointing out the Senate Republicans of 70 years ago were better on Civil Rights was enough meat to get published I’d have jumped on it too!
I didn’t mind this recent piece by her. Why? I think this harkens back to Ann Coulter circa 2000 when she was at her “best” (I put that in quotes because 9 times out of 10 I still fundamentally didn’t agree with her, but would at least chuckle once or twice and grudgingly admit she got in a good dig at Democrats/Liberals/etc). However, the fact she had to take on New York City Bloomberg subway ads to get an old-school Ann Coulter piece demonstrates that the landscape has changed. Ann–an older Gen X–came of age in the era of Michael P. Keaton young conservatism. When the overarching narrative, with some truth, was that conservatism offered the common sense approach during the Reagan years. Conservative talking heads like Limbaugh and Coulter milked the perceived hypocrisy, pettiness, and corruption on the Democratic side for comedy gold. People forget that in the 1990s Rush Limbaugh was much less angry and bitter and more of a common sense conservative with a sense of humor (something those dour Liberals were perceived as not having circa 1991).
Yet, everything has changed. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart cannot be over-credited with that. Liberals ability to make fun of themselves (and conservatives, of course) has become well-entrenched for some time. South Park as well. Things like the soda ban in NYC does harken back to the 1990s condescending PC debates that Limbaugh and Coulter made a living off of exploiting for humor. However, that’s the exception more than the rule today. Let’s face it: 90% of the mock-worthy stunts today come from the conservative side of the aisle. From things like “legitimate rape” to believing gay marriage will embolden North Korea’s pursuit of the bomb. How can you NOT make fun of the hypocrisy or people like Larry Craig? Or Sarah Palin? Pat Robertson? The jokes write themselves. Outrageous comments made by every local bigot or moron with an “R” after his or her name can spread across Facebook faster than an STD. I thought Ann Coulter’s tweet about Sandra Fluke getting impregnated by Bill Clinton backstage at the Democratic Convention was funny. But let’s face it: it was a dated Lewinsky joke re-spun. The jokes are mostly coming from the Right these days, and I think she knows it. This is why the sharp humor has, for the most part, degenerated into cheap shock value.