If Ann Coulter were not pretty she'd be so margainalized that she'd make Guatamalan hermaphroditic pedophiles with a penchant for tribal scarification look positively mainstream. She sits there on national television and casually defends her call for what amounts to another crusade with glib comments like "look what our policy was three days later." Any reasonable person would want to put more distance between their own views and hers than between themselves and their days in a Menudo cover band. The conservatives don't. They put her on TV and make assanine sexist coments about her like "I've always wanted to be tied up with Ann Coulter!" (said in response to "You are now my favorite columnist, tied with Ann Coulter.")
Why? Why would someone trying to be serious and political associate with a woman who views the Ku Klux Klan as "A nice organization, but a little bit limited in their mission and somewhat pansyish in their methods." (She didn't actually say that. In public.) I think I have part of the answer
Conservatives in this country, at least of the populist Fox News/Rush Limbaugh type, have a level of sophistication appropriate for high school students. Please note that I am not applying this to all conservatives, certainly a guy like William F. Buckley makes arguments based on evidence and a higher level of argumentation. Even if you don't agree with him you can respect that his arguments are appropriately serious for the gravity of the issues being discussed. He's more the exception than the rule though.
I think that the populist conservatives are pretty much the equivalent of a high school clique of the most popular kids. Almost exclusively they are white, privaleged, and spiteful. They refer to liberals in the way that the popular class president might talk about the irritating nerd in his math class who cares more about trigonometry than the head cheerleader's cup size. Of course the president doesn't actually believe that the math nerd cares about trigonometry, he thinks it's just a cover. He's conceited enough that he's unable to believe that someone might have a different value system than he does, and if someone claims to, then it must be a cover.
That's why conservatives make the assumption that liberals are either all corrupt or complete fools. That's why they think that the disadvantaged are disadvantaged because of their lack of initiative. It's easy to believe in cutthroat ethics when you're the one holding the razor.
So how does Ann Coulter fit in? She's the bitchy pretty girl they all want to sleep with, so they ignore her 'personality foibles.' She's wealthy white and blonde, with excellent skin, so who cares if she steals a little, or tortures the homeless, or keeps launching ad hominem attacks at dweebs. She's POPULAR. That's enough for them.
So much of conservative behavior can be explained by high school level maturity that it's actually a little bit scary. Take our president. He gives juvenile nicknames to all his cabinet members, like they're members of the same basketball team and he's the captain. His idea of diplomacy is to call the other team, oops I mean country, evil, make up lies about them, and pick fights on countries he doesn't like but thinks he can bully.
I should note that this is not limited merely to conservatives. As my friend Aaron pointed out, some liberals act like the scared little geeks many of them were in high school. Those who bashed Pat Tillman just because he was a jock, for example. Howard Dean employed pep rally tactics in his campaign. The level of discourse in general is quite low, and it's unfair to single out the GOP supporters.
But Rush Limbaugh making up the phrase "Feminazis." How far off is that from the sorts of juvenile insults that we get in the halls of high schools? Sean Hannity cuts off his guests and has an astoundingly narcisitic world view. Bill O'Reilly makes up facts like a kid writing a term paper at the last minute manufacturing citations, and has an amazing lack of self-esteem and need to habitually lie about himself that's totally consistant with a marginal kid in high school who finds himself among the popular group, but not truly accepted.
The high school mentality also helps explain the chickenhawk phenomenon. Leaving aside glib remarks about how 16 year olds are too young to fight anyway, kids always believe that other people should do things FOR them. The traitor in chief is just as happy having someone else do the dying for him as he would be having a nerd write his papers for him in school.
I don't mean to rag on popular kids or jocks in high school. Although many of them are bullies and assholes, they have a hard time of it too and they're just trying to carve out their own identities. But you need to grow up and move on as you age. That doesn't necessarily changing your views, but at least research alternatives and get a more sophisticated method of generating those views. It's cliche to complain about the paucity of quality oratory in today's political climate, but beyond mere matters of style I also think that bringing down the level of the language has helped reduce the quality of the ideas. The rhetoric has fallen to levels reachable by the average high school senior 30 years ago. Alongside this we've seen a fall off in the quality of ideas and the amount of evidence used to support them. I can't believe that those trends aren't correlated.
This brings me to the next issue I'd like to talk about. Ronald Reagan. You probably know he died. You've probably heard a lot of soaring praise for him since finding out about his demise.
I think it's bullshit.
Not that he's dead, but all the adoration being heaped upon our dear departed president. Ronald Reagan was a terrible president. He drove our country deep into debt while lining the pockets of military contractors. He presided over one of the great scandals of all-time, Iran Contra. He treated the poor like shit and went senile in office. People credit him with winning the cold war, but quite frankly the cold war was winning itself. The Soviet Union was already rotting from the inside when Reagan took office. He did give it a push to help topple it maybe a little sooner, but in doing so he helped create the fiscal crisis that may bring down America. Buying a lot of $600 toilet seats is a good way to pay off your friends, and you know that plenty of stupid rednecks will vote for you as long as you claim that it's for national security, because they lack the intelligence and foresight to actually think, and sure does like them some pitchurs of mans in uniforms.
He was a corrupt, senile, beligerant old fool. I don't like the fact that people feel the need to praise the dead. Fuck the dead, they're gone and they can't be hurt by anything you say. When the dead are as reprehensible as old Ronnie fuck them twice. The only thing that makes me sad about his death is that I'm going to have to hear all this stupid whimpering sucking up to his corpse for a few weeks. His body should be dumped into one of the lagoons of pig shit that his relaxation in environmental regulation helped create.