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A Real Biography Would be a Lot Better
on February 5, 2015
When I read this book, I wondered if it had been written by Ann Coulter's evil twin -- or perhaps by Coulter herself writing under a pseudonym. Coulter has enough of a split personality to make this a possibility. Maguire's book has all the elements of Coulter's style -- innuendo, overstatement, nudges, ad hominem attacks, reckless smears, etc. And the funny thing is, with the facts that Maguire elicits, a rather sympathetic picture of Coulter could emerge: an emotionally fragile, introverted, conflicted and rather lonely neurotic who has managed to overcome her considerable emotional handicaps to become a wealthy and influential figure. What Maguire puts down to hypocrisy, for example, could better be described as extreme ambiguity. Take his conclusion that Coulter has enjoyed a fairly active social life while regularly condemning women for failing to "keep their knees together." Coulter has frequently stated that no one has any right to condemn her social life, because she is unmarried, etc. Yet she does indeed keep harping on the "knees together" meme. Hypocrisy is claiming to be what you are not. Ambiguity is going two directions at once. Maguire thanks Coulter at the end of the book for being such an "easy target." Then why write the book? A far more interesting book would examine why and how Coulter became Coulter. Prior to her disastrous stint at National Review, it was fun to read her rambling discourses on line at Human Events. She would expound on topics ranging from the lack of dateable men to the horrors of airplane travel to the kindness of John Kennedy Jr. Her posts were sometimes almost word salad (Coulter is not a naturally gifted writer; she needs a lot of editing), but they were lively. Then, especially after 911 and the death of Barbara Olson, she gave herself the equivalent of an emotional lobotomy, restricting herself to rather conventional conservative talking points, provocatively expressed. As Rich Lowry, Jonah Goldberg, and many other sophisticated conservatives may well have said, "You're smarter than that, Ann." Ann Coulter is one of the great American eccentrics, like Bob Dylan and Ayn Rand. As such, it would be interesting to read a book more concerned with figuring her out than simply condemning her. Instead, Maguire makes catty remarks about her dyed hair (even though he admits in his notes that her high school photos show her as an "athletic blond"), her Adam's apple, her short skirts and her taste in men. Ranting about Coulter is easy, and probably fun and profitable. But really examining her would be something far better -- it would be interesting.