Coulter quoted NYT columnists out of context to defend inauguration costs

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

In her January 20 nationally syndicated column, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter took The New York Times to task for comparing the Bush administration's initial pledge of aid to victims of the December 26 tsunami with the expected cost of President Bush's inauguration, and in so doing mischaracterized a 1993 Times column as "gush[ing]" over former President Clinton's 1993 inauguration. While Coulter was literally correct that Times columnists Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd wrote that "It has all been so much fun, is it too much to ask that it go on forever?" their tone was in fact sarcastic, as is clear from reading the whole column.

In their January 21, 1993, column, titled "Picking up the Perks of Presidential Power," Rich and Dowd waxed sarcastic over the length of Clinton's inaugural celebration:

It has all been so much fun, is it too much to ask that it go on forever? After all, the nation has gone from an Inaugural Day to an Inaugural-Eve-Gala and Inaugural Day to this Administration's precedent-setting Inaugural Week.

Now, in the capital, comes the movement for a Permanent Inaugural to complement Mr. Clinton's permanent campaign.

Though this inaugural celebration has already lasted longer than "Gone With The Wind," "Roots" and "The Winds of War," let it be remembered that there is always room for more. Think about "Scarlett," "Roots: The Next Generation," and "War and Remembrance."

In her column, Coulter also attacked Rich and Dowd for quoting Hollywood agent Karen Russell as saying of the Clinton inaugural: "I'm in this fantasy world. I haven't slept. I'm punch drunk." But Coulter omitted Rich and Dowd's reference to Russell's comments as "corny, mushy and communitarian." They wrote:

On this day, all corny, mushy and communitarian quotations are welcome. Surely, Karen Russell, a Hollywood agent with United Talent Agency, spoke for everyone yesterday: "I'm in this fantasy world," she said at an American Film Institute luncheon. "I haven't slept. I'm punch drunk. Today's my birthday. I'm 31. I just feel like I'm in this place called Clinton-land. I thought I was a jaded Hollywood person, but to see a President take an oath and the next person to speak is a black woman [poet Maya Angelou] in the white guy's club is amazing."

On President Clinton's Inauguration Day, January 20, 1993, the Times published a Rich and Dowd column titled "The Reign of King Bill Descends on the Capital," in which the columnists criticized the lavishness of Clinton's inaugural celebration and compared it to "the coronation of the Sun King [French King Louis XIV]."

In her January 20 column, Coulter responded to a December 30, 2004, New York Times editorial titled, "Are we stingy? Yes," which criticized the initial $15 million in aid that the Bush administration pledged to tsunami victims as "less than half of what Republicans plan to spend on the Bush inaugural festivities." The 2005 inaugural expenses were estimated to be $40 million.

From Coulter's column:

"It has all been so much fun," Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd gushed in the New York Times in January 1993. It was Bill Clinton's one-week inaugural celebration. "Is it too much to ask that it go on forever?" (For those who loved America, the next eight years would only seem to go on forever.)

Rich and Dowd quoted Hollywood agent Karen Russell, saying: "I'm in this fantasy world. I haven't slept. I'm punch drunk. ... I just feel like I'm in this place called Clinton-land" - which, if it were a theme park, could bill itself as "the sleaziest place on Earth!" Russell, they said, "spoke for everyone."

[...]

I wouldn't mention it, except for the Times' recent editorial snippily remarking that the amount of foreign aid to tsunami victims offered by the United States within the first few days of the disaster was "less than half of what Republicans plan to spend on the Bush inaugural festivities." By that logic, why hold the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards, or spend money on restaurants and theater productions praised in the New York Times? That money could go to tsunami victims!

Posted In
Economy, Budget
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