The Good: A concise, quick read
The Bad: This is the clipshow of Coulter's works, Vitriolic and hateful without facts or reason
The Basics: As a glorified collection of snippets of previous works, Ann Coulter presents a book that is about Ann Coulter's ability to be controversial but it's all been said.
Some years ago, in the interest of being truly fair and balanced, I wrote a review on the website I used to write for on Ann Coulter's book High Crimes And Misdemeanors (reviewed here!) entitled "A Reactionary Gasps For Air." My profile on the page provided very little information about me, save a link to my eBay store where I sell Star Trek trading cards and plates. Years later, I decided in honor of the new political season we find ourselves in, I would pick up some political books and read and review them. Given that there was nothing new by Michael Moore or Al Franken, I decided to do a blitz of conservatives and I picked up the Ann Coulter library and decided to start with the most recent work.
If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans was the latest work at the time by Ann Coulter and one might imagine my surprise when sitting down to read the book, I came across what could well be a reference to me and my review of High Crimes And Misdemeanors! As I sat reading about the woes of being Ann Coulter and how liberal loudmouths are constantly declaring her career dead, I came across the line, "A few of my obituaries have been especially difficult to track down because they were published in newspapers that are now defunct or written by 'journalists' currently selling Star Trek memorabilia on the Internet" (6). As I await official word from Ann Coulter or her people on this reference, I feel free to operate under the possibility that this line actually might be in reference to me and the review I wrote a few years back, in which case, I think we all ought to be proud about how we've crawled out of the slime of obscurity to be read by the likes of Ann Coulter!
Of course, this leads me to one of the serious issues I have long had with Ann Coulter; she seems to have a pretty loose grasp on facts. For the record, in this capacity, I am a reviewer, not a journalist, a distinction a political commentator would seem to be aware of as she comments on news and events, she does not report them. And while "memorabilia" might be a technically correct word, the connotation of "memorabilia" would be that the objects being referenced were from Star Trek, like set pieces, costumes and other props or authentic pieces used in the show(s). "Collectibles" is far more precise and accurate for what I sell. As they say, the devil is in the details.
But If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans is not about details or facts. As Coulter explains in her introduction - the longest collection of new writing in the entire book - "My readers understand . . . they are perfectly happy with my calling Democrats names, with or without a larger point . . . So instead of waiting for liberals to take my quotes out of context, I'm taking them out of context myself" (30 - 31). This is a clipshow, a book that collects Coulter's favorite quotes by her, about herself, and attacking everyone and everything that does not conform to her view of christianity and patriotism.
It's at this point I feel compelled to mention two things, the first is that I am not a fan of the music of Eminem. I'm not a fan of the music of Eminem not because I blindly dislike rap music or think he's overproduced (which he is) and overexposed (which he was during his heyday), but rather because when one turned on the radio and listened to an Eminem song, regardless of what it was saying, it was always about being Eminem. Eminem made millions by singing about himself singing. He sang about being popular and that made him popular. But at the end of the day, it's a guy on stage singing about himself. Eminem duped the 12 - 24 year-old c.d. buying public by getting them to pay for glorified advertisements for Eminem.
It is precisely that same self-promotion and self-referential quality that defines Ann Coulter's If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans. This is Ann Coulter touting her own controversy and, as she states, the book is a collection of her quotes, taken out of context with minimal bridging of material to lump together the subjects of her hate-filled attacks. And there is no intellectualism in this. She notes early on, "All liberals are the enemy, but liberals outside of New York are the loser enemy" (25). Coulter is presenting the best of Coulter's ad hominem, referring to "loony liberals" and even less-sophisticated insults on all she considers her enemies.
Which brings us to the second thing: it's very difficult to evaluate and discuss a book that is simply a loose collection of quotes. This is a tacit admission that Coulter's supporters are too intellectually lazy to reread her works for their favorite quotes or her supposed enemies are too hobbled by the complete arguments she has made in other works to accurately cite them, so she provides bullet points instead. Or perhaps this truly is Ann Coulter taking the Eminem route; why create anything new and force yourself to raise the bar, when you can just lay down a new beat and remind people of who you are and hope they'll shell out money for it?
With commentary books, it is difficult to discuss them without either devolving into recitations of plot or subject matter or refuting the viewpoint of the author. I refuse to do that here. Instead, If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans is a is the with and wisdom of Ann Coulter condensed for those who do not want to shell out $24.95 for each of her oft-referenced books that she cites to make up the majority of this text. But it is Coulter illustrating little in the way of wit and more in the way of loud, abrasive insults with the desired effect equivalent to a young girl standing in a large room shouting "I'm still here! Look at me!" And there should be no mistake, there is no wisdom imparted in this book. The only citations - and much of the book is quotes - are of Coulter's opinions. This is not a book making an argument, making a case, it's a collection of self-promotional references to prior best-selling works that read like half a conversation between two frat boys talking about all their sexual conquests.
Actually, the most perfect analogy to understand exactly what If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans is like in literary terms shall force me to reference a reality t.v. show. When I travel, I tend to stay in hotels that have cable t.v. and it seems like every Saturday night for years, I would run into a reality show that would have to work hard to work its way up to stupid. In it, two competing gang members would speak to base gang by standing in an open lot or vacant building squaring off with a member of a rival gang and they would simply insult one another. It's a lowbrow poetry slam that keeps battles limited to words, I suppose, but it seemed like whenever I was flipping through the channels and would catch this show, they would always be in the middle of a segment where competitors were forced to present an endless back and forth of "Your mamma" jokes. You know, one would say something like "Your momma is so fat the last time she got on top of a man she was charged with double homicide; once for killing the guy, once for killing his dignity" which would garner a retort with something equally intellectual like "Well, your momma is so fat the last time she went to the beach, Greenpeace showed up to slide her back in the water!" This book reads like one half of that style joke, it is simply Coulter repeating her greatest slams at people she desperately wants to offend so she may maintain her relevance.
Stripped of any pretense of intellectualism, Coulter creates her most intellectually honest work, though. Most of her other books are plagued by difficulties in terms of Coulter presenting a straightforward, well-conceived argument on whatever topic she is flaming on about without degenerating into insults or leaving gaps of logic one could drive a battalion through. But this book does not seek to make any arguments, rather recapture the past glories of offenses already on record. The problem with this, of course, is that it does not allow Coulter to maintain the spotlight she wants. On page 31, Coulter praises her true Christian readers for constantly coming to her defense when she is under attack by liberals for whatever latest insult she has thrown out into the public dialogue. If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans does not create anything so cognizant or new to garner any insults from the left she despises. Instead, Coulter managed to create a work that is the concentrated venom of Coulter - recalling how she likens all terrorists to Muslims (214) and throwing around "faggot" like it didn't carry the same level of hatred as "nigger," a word she studiously avoids - with nothing new to combat.
So, for those who either want to get cheered up reading snippets of Ann Coulter's insults of Bill and Hillary Clinton, liberals, The New York Times, and the pacifist response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, this book provides the choicest ones culled from Coulter's previous books and columns and interviews in other publications or programs. Liberals who want to be inflamed or understand just how hate-filled Coulter and her rhetoric may be without having to sift through shoddy arguments that are unsupported by citations or facts can do so easily by reading her statements of loathing against abortion, homosexuality, feminists, Muslims and immigrants. There's no style or panache here, just collections of quotes with a few paragraphs of new material to frame her chapter's subject.
The book is conveniently arranged by thematic chapters arranged in alphabetical order from Airport Security to The War On Terrorism, with quotes from her prior books Slander, Godless, Treason, High Crimes And Misdemeanors and How To Talk To A Liberal (If You Have To) peppered with more obscure quotes from her syndicated columns. If you're looking for a topic to read the conservative position of hate on, Coulter has them easily arranged for the reader. To be clear; not all conservatives are hate-filled or make poor arguments or even respect those who do, but Ann Coulter openly acknowledges in the Introduction to this book that her purpose is to inflame liberals and be as indelicate as possible. Again, this is not an intellectual argument or attempt to spread even a remotely coherent idea, If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans is just a collection of Coulter's prior angry rants.
Unfortunately, the book is incomplete on many levels. For example, there is no section on Canada, which prevents Coulter from presenting my favorite quote of hers to date. In an interview on CNN, she debated a Canadian about the cowardice of Canada, incorrectly citing Canada's participation in the Vietnam War as evidence that Canada had degenerated in the last thirty years. Corrected . . . by a Canadian, Coulter vehemently asserts that Canada was on our side in aiding the U.S. in its conflict in Vietnam. I suppose that might have been a b-side, and this is her greatest hits.
And while Coulter might make a best-seller out of this work - she frequently refers to her "best-selling book [insert title here]" as opposed to her well-reasoned argument [insert title here] - opting once again for defining quality solely by quantity, she's phoning this one in. No, she's not dead yet, but she does not have anything new she's trying to sell here, it's just a repackage of greatest hits with no new tracks that click.
At least, finally, Coulter is completely honest about her intent with a book.
For more political books, please check out my reviews of:
Lies (And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them) By Al Franken
Stupid White Men By Michael Moore
Dude, Where's My Country By Michael Moore
[NOTE TO COULTER: If anything I've written here attracts your attention enough to reference me or this article, please either refer to me by name or reference me as "a [your choice of:] novelist, commentator, reviewer still selling a book with lesbian protagonists on the Internet or in bookstores." Thanks!]
For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2010, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.