Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Okay, I'm allowing a little exception to my Hitchens ban in honor of the fact that, on July 30, he managed a near-impossible feat. One seldom even attempted, much less accomplished. For a brief, fleeting, effervescent little moment of calm and peace in the cosmos, Christopher Hitchens got Ann Coulter to SHUT THE FUCK UP. Or at least reduced her to monosyllables for a few exchanges. It was Chris Matthews' Hardball on July 30, transcript here. It's a bit frustrating, because every time you think Hitchens is about to unleash on Coulter, Matthews rushes to change the subject, which is how this show works. Drive-by political punditry of sorts.

Anyway, they were discussing this 9/11 report, and how Bush is covering up information. Matthews' point was something like: why is he making this huge mistake of appearing to do cover-up for the Saudi royal family? America doesn't like that! Mistake! And Ann Coulter's (yawningly predictable) response was basically: "No mistake! George Bush! No mistake!" And thus:

MATTHEWS:Ann Coulter, just in political terms, why a cover-up? Why is the president of the United States going into the Rose Garden today and saying, “I’m not telling you what role the Saudis played in 9/11, if any?” Why does he want to be that guy, the cover-up man?

COULTER: Well, I don’t think any of us know. If we knew what was being redacted we wouldn’t be so worried about why it’s being redacted. We’d know what it says. And we don’t know what it says. [e-e-e-excellent point, Ann Coulter! Thank you for justifying your existence on the air!]


MATTHEWS: What are you, just in bed with the president on every issue? Wait a minute, Ann. Wait a minute, Ann. In order words, everything George Bush does is right, the way you look at it. Everything he does is right, prima facta? [I assume he's going for prima facie here, but give him a break. It's live and Chris Matthews talks very, very fast.]


MATTHEWS: He couldn’t make a mistake like making himself look like he’s covering up for the royal family in a way that might hurt America. He couldn’t possibly make a mistake, could he?

COULTER: No, he could make a mistake. But what else do we have to go on if the president is saying...

HITCHENS: Well, I’ll tell you what we have to go on. I’ll tell you what we have to go on. And by the way, I’m appalled to see what kind of model citizen you’d make in a banana republic, Ms. Coulter. I mean, you’re just saying in advance that your credulity with respect to the president is infinite.

COULTER: On whether or not he can reveal something. How else can we evaluate it if he won’t reveal it? We’re talking about something we don’t know what it says.

HITCHENS: Take a recent case. I’m presuming you agree with the president about the need to remove Saddam Hussein from office, and to purge Iraq of the Ba’ath Party.
The Saudis refused to let American forces use their soil, even the bases that the United States had built were forbidden for use by the Saudi oil government. Does this suggest to you that these are people that the president is entitled to cover up for?


HITCHENS: Isn’t it, in fact, the case that someone like Prince Bandar, for example, the Saudi ambassador in Washington, has had far too much power as a lobbyist for far too long? And the Saudis have been buying influence all over the...


and so on. I don't make it a habit to watch Ann Coulter as it's bad for my digestion, but I don't imagine many people call her a mindless party hack to her face and then make it out of the studio without a full set of Lee Press-On Nails skewering their genitals. Not her best performance. She was on much stronger ground earlier in the program when she was explaining that, as a lawyer, she sees nothing in the constitution allowing sodomy, and that the recent Supreme Court decision is thus a travesty. It is this kind of cogent analysis that makes me glad I got cable.


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