Coulter Attack Condemned in Blogosphere

Bloggers called the conservative pundit all sorts of names not fit to print -- but more than a few were also disappointed in John Edwards' response.

Ann Coulter’s latest venomous attack, in which she called John Edwards a “faggot” in a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, has drawn widespread condemnation, not least from the campaigns of the leading Republican presidential candidates.

It would be silly to point out the utter insanity and bigotry of Coulter’s comments and redundant to reiterate that she shouldn’t be taken seriously. In the blogosphere, the overwhelming majority of bloggers chose to focus their venom on Coulter (whose remarks at CPAC in Washington, D.C. must have made even Tim Hardaway think a line had been crossed), calling her all sorts of names not fit to print — but more than a few were also disappointed in Edwards’ response.

John Edwards countered the Coulter clip on his Web site and began a campaign amusingly alliterated as “Coulter Cash,” the mission of which is to raise $100,000 to “fight back against the politics of bigotry.”

David Bonior, the former congressman and current Edwards campaign manager, responded to Coulter with an email to supporters. “I say we fight. Help us raise $100,000 in ‘Coulter Cash’ this week to show every would-be Republican mouthpiece that their bigoted attacks will not intimidate this campaign. I just threw in 100 bucks. Will you join me?”

“I am not quite sure which act is worst, using such a childish word to characterize someone or drawing attention to this childish act?” blogged John Haynes, adding, “It was just a needless response brought upon by defense mechanism.”

At a press conference in Berkeley, Calif. on Sunday, Edwards responded to the remarks, saying, “What I’ve learned is that if you don’t have the courage to speak out against it — no matter who says it, and no matter who it’s leveled at — then it becomes tolerable.” He also compared Coulter’s comments to the kind of speech he heard leveled against African Americans when he was growing up in the South. When asked for his opinion of Coulter, Edwards said that he didn’t have one.

“Personally I like both moves,” said the blog Gridlock on Rye, referring to Edwards’ public comments and his Web site maneuvering. “However I don’t think they work well together. I think he should have chosen one or the other and not both.”

It is never easy to respond to criticism so off base that it is hardly sensible, but Edwards’ appeal for cash was seen by at least a few bloggers as a bit too self-serving. “I personally found it crass to get a fundraising letter,” wrote Lloydletta on the Edwards site, “without getting a statement from your campaign.” (The Edwards campaign, of course, did later come out with a statement.)

In an open letter on Edwards’ site, another blogger expressed disappointment with the candidate’s position to date on gay marriage — “I have watched you on television discussing how you know your religious beliefs and upbringing might be holding you back but that you’re just not there yet” — while calling Coulter’s “faggot” slur “reprehensible.”

“But, please keep in mind those of us gay and lesbian Americans who have to deal with this on a more regular basis,” wrote Sseger, “don’t get to use it as a fundraising attempt.”

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Dan Goldberg is a CJR intern.