Coulter 1-0 Paxman
Forget England v. Sweden, tonight's real battle for supremacy was between Jeremy Paxman and Ann Coulter, on Newsnight. And I'm very sorry to say that for all intents and purposes, Coulter won. But like some of England's recent World Cup matches, it wasn't an impressive victory at all, and that's what made it so frustrating to watch. I've read about this woman's legendary stand-offishness before, but given that she really only came to media prominence around the same time I left North America, tonight was the first opportunity I've had to actually hear her speak. And what did she say? Basically almost nothing, apart from (a) confirming that yes, she really believed and stood by all that she's ever written, (b) denying that any non-liberals disagreed with anything she had to say, and (c) essentially saying that her ideas on the state of religion in the US are better than more detailed analyses because her new book is "the number one best-seller in America", and everyone else's, well, isn't.
Which all sounds like so much teenage hot air to me, and it would almost be funny if the woman wasn't well into her forties.
Paxman - who I presume was interviewing her for the first time - was visibly equally taken aback by her bluster and her seeming inability or unwillingness to actually discuss in depth any of the reactionary right-wing values she espouses (not linking to her official site, but a quick Google search will do it). Ann Coulter is the sort of pundit who requires Newsnight's heavy artillery to be brought out, but I personally feel that Paxman missed a real opportunity tonight. While he obviously decided that the best policy was to let Coulter's madness speak for itself and have done with it, I would argue that this really isn't the most proactive or helpful approach. Ann Coulter is one of the most popular conservative commentators in the United States, and she has some of the most extreme and often deeply offensive views on issues ranging from religion to immigration to war. As such, she's not some David Icke 12-foot lizard cartoon character who can be laughed at and brushed aside. What's needed is a good old-fashioned debate with some of the most scarily intelligent liberal polemicists of this country to tear through her hateful nonsense piece by piece and expose it for what it really is.
But once again, that didn't happen, and Coulter has walked away looking like the cat who got the cream.