In response to my column on Bernie Goldberg in the November Reason (not yet online, though an earlier Boston Globe column on Goldberg's 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America can be found here), a reader from Alabama has this to say:
Bernie Goldberg, actually, leaves me fairly indifferent. I was simply amused by his blatant partisanship in selection the Goldberg 100, and by his evolution from liberal media gadfly to conservative media darling.
It amuses me to see how Bernie Goldberg got under your skin. Your attack on him came across as a little desperate.
I love how you call Ann Coulter a "nasty right-winger". I hope you read everything she writes. Ann Coulter is brilliant, funny and always entertaining. She would eat you alive in a debate, and she is a better writer, so I can seehow she gets under your skin too.
But Ann Coulter really does "get under my skin." I usually turn off the TV when she's about to appear; when I try to stick it out, I rarely last more than a minute. I refuse to go to any public event in which she participates. I think Coulter is the epitome of what has become the bane of political discourse in America: the tendency to demonize one's opponents, to treat them a priori as either idiots or scoundrels, to substitute ridicule, sarcasm, insults, and bile for even a pretense at reasoned argument. Goldberg, who leaves Coulter off his list of political hate-mongers, thinks it's okay because she does it all with "a twinkle in her eye." To me, that "twinkle" looks more like a brazen smirk ("yeah, I'm saying outrageous stuff -- try and stop me").
I've never understood Coulter's reputation, even among some reasonable conservatives, for being "funny" (let alone "brilliant"). For instance, here's a zinger Chris Caldwell cites as "Menckenesque" in his review of Treason in The Washington Post: "Even Islamic terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do. They don’t have the energy. If they had that much energy, they’d have indoor plumbing by now." This is humor? Here's another sample: "Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots." Dorothy Parker herself, in her grave, must be green with envy.
Yes, dear reader, you've got me pegged: it's my life's secret tragedy that I can't write like Ann Coulter. The only thing I'd love even more would be to look like her intellectual twin, Michael Moore.