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Whom will Ann Coulter’s endorsement hurt more?

February 1, 2008

What will the impact be of Ann Coulter’s declaration that she will campaign for Hillary Clinton if McCain wins the Republican nomination?

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The conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s declaration in her column that ‘I’d rather deal with President Hillary than with President McCain. With Hillary, we’ll get the same ruinous liberal policies with none of the responsibility’ and her even more dramatic pledge on FOX news that ‘I will campaign for her, if it’s McCain!’. The conventional wisdom is that this will hurt Hillary Clinton, because it will raise the heckles of the antiwar left and will have the same effect on her as an endorsement from Ted Kennedy would have on McCain. This also raises the more immediate question of whether John McCain will be able to hold onto the Republican base if he is elected. However, my belief is that it will hurt neither candidate, and might even benefit McCain if he plays his cards correctly.

Firstly, I believe that confirmation that Hillary isn’t as divisive as people had previously thought will provide some comfort to Democrats. There will also be many Democrats who would like to see Ann Coulter being forced to either deliver on her promise or make an embarrassing retraction. At the same time this will destroy Coulter’s credibility within the Republican party. Although many of the more extreme figures in both parties behave in contentius ways out of genuine conviction, there is also a commercial imperative underlining their politics. Although this commercial imperative means that they will attempt to be as outrageous as possible, it also means that they have to pay lip-service to party unity. This was one the reasons why Michael Moore supported Kerry rather than Ralph Nader (as he did in 2000) and also partially explains Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudolph Giulianim, when the latter was the favourite to win the nomination.

By stepping outside of the Republican party, even if she subsequently recants (or tries to pass it off as some covert anti-Clinton move) Coulter has made herself a pariah within the Republican party. She has also created a vacuum for other less well known right-wingers to step into her shoes, by remaining loyal to the GOP. You can definitely expect commentators like Michelle Malkin to suddenly rediscover the virtues of John McCain. At the same time this will cause independent Republicans to rally around the Senator from Arizona and undercut the right’s criticism of McCain. After all they can hardly caricature McCain as disloyal and a covert Democrat, if one of their own is endorsing Hillary. This also means that McCain will be much more able to move to the centre on economic issues after he has secured the nomination.

What do you think? Please leave some comments below.

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2 comments

  1. Ann Coulter is hurting the conservative cause with her arrogance and divisiveness. The day she goes to war – and is tortured for the good of our country – I will begin to listen to her retoric on McCain. For now, it’s just garbage to sell more books and get more publicity. Shame on her!


  2. no matter how harsh Ann Coulter sounds, it’s hard to deny the fact that she does a good job of researching her claims…



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