In two appearances on Fox News, Ann Coulter continued her attacks on the widows of 9-11 victims and added that “you never see conservatives ... using someone's tragedy.” But as Alan Colmes noted, Debra Burlingame, whose brother died in the 9-11 attacks, and “a little girl who lost her mother during 9-11” were both “used to promote President Bush” during the 2004 presidential campaign. Coulter's response: "[H]e's the commander in chief."
Appearing on the June 12 editions of the Fox News programs Hannity & Colmes and The Big Story with John Gibson, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter continued her attacks on the widows of 9-11 victims and added that “you never see conservatives ... using someone's tragedy.” But as Hannity & Colmes co-host Alan Colmes noted, Debra Burlingame, whose brother died in the 9-11 attacks, and “a little girl who lost her mother during 9-11” were both “used to promote President Bush” during the 2004 presidential campaign.
Coulter's response to Colmes's examples? "[H]e's the commander in chief." Colmes asked, "[S]o it's OK to use someone's tragedy if you're the commander in chief?"
Coulter has repeatedly used inflammatory remarks about the widows of 9-11 victims to promote her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism (Crown Forum, June 2006). She repeated these attacks on The Big Story during an interview with guest host and Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew P. Napolitano. Coulter said that “the left keeps using human shields to promote its half-baked liberal bromides,” and that the 9-11 widows are “enjoying their celebrity status.” Coulter cited former Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) as other examples of “victim spokesmen, which the left always springs on us.” Napalitano appeared to accept Coulter's allegation, asking Coulter: "[W]hy is the left, then, willing to use people who are victims to promote its political causes?"
As Media Matters for America has noted, far from being immune to challenge, the purportedly “infallible” spokespeople Coulter cited have faced strong Republican opposition in the political sphere and, often, ad hominem attacks from conservatives.
On Hannity & Colmes, Colmes asked Coulter whether Bush also used “tragedy to promote a political agenda,” citing Burlingame's advocacy for Bush's re-election and a commercial supporting Bush during his 2004 re-election campaign, which highlighted Ashley Faulkner, the daughter of a 9-11 victim.
On the opening night of the 2004 Republican National Convention, as Media Matters has noted, three relatives of 9-11 victims gave speeches broadcast on national television -- Burlingame and two women who lost their husbands, Deena Burnett and Tara Stackpole. On numerous occasions, Burlingame publicly supported Bush's re-election. Following the public disclosure of Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program, Burlingame defended the program in a February 6 New York Post op-ed and in appearances on the April 3 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show and on the January 30 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes. Further, a conservative advocacy group, Progress for America, released an ad in October 2004 in support of Bush's re-election titled "Ashley's Story." In the ad, Faulkner recounted the story of Bush embracing her at a campaign event. Said Faulkner: “He's the most powerful man in the world, and all he wants to do is make sure I'm safe, that I'm OK.”
From the June 12 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
COLMES: You always ignore Debra Burlingame, who's been used to promote President Bush. And let me show you something that President Bush, a commercial that President Bush ran during his last campaign for president. Let me show you a little piece of that. We don't have that; I'm sorry. He ran a commercial using a little girl who lost her mother during 9-11 and used that and that helped sell him to the American people. Was that using 9-11?
COULTER: No, you refuse to grasp the distinction --
COLMES: Was that using the tragedy to promote a political agenda?
COULTER: No. He's the commander in chief. Do you think FDR didn't run on World War II when he was running for president? He's the commander in chief. He's the one responsible for the response. You didn't have a little girl denouncing John Kerry and saying he wasn't doing enough to fight the war on terrorism.
COLMES: So it's OK to use someone's tragedy if you're the commander in chief --
COULTER: You never see conservatives doing this.
COLMES: -- and running for office?
COULTER: No, he's not using someone's tragedy. He's talking about the war on terror, which we are in the middle of -- He's the commander in chief.
From the June 12 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:
NAPOLITANO: Ann Coulter joins us now. Ann, welcome here. So, why is everybody up in arms about what you said this time?
COULTER: Probably because people like you keep describing it as what I say about 9-11 widows, which is nothing of the sort what I say. I'm talking about the Jersey Girls, the self-described Jersey Girls, four of probably tens of thousands who had relatives die in 9-11. These were the four who were -- used their platform as victims to viciously attack George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, demand a 9-11 Commission, be feted in Vanity Fair, and, of course, cut campaign commercials for John Kerry. If what I say is so outrageous, I don't know why there's this -- this compulsion to misdescribe what it is I'm talking about.
NAPOLITANO: Let's -- let's put up on the screen exactly what it is you did say in the book about these four people. Quote: “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities. I've never seen people enjoy their husbands' deaths so much.” Now, why did you call them “broads” ?
COULTER: I don't know. Why didn't you just ask me that question? You sort of have to read the whole chapter to get the flow of it. I think the point is clear, that the left keeps using human shields to promote its half-baked liberal bromides. Let somebody else make the point. Make someone --
NAPOLITANO: What do you mean when you say they enjoy their husbands' deaths?
NAPOLITANO: I'm sorry, Ann. What do you mean when you say they seem to be enjoying their husbands' deaths?
COULTER: I mean what I say. They're enjoying their celebrity.
NAPOLITANO: This is the point that really got under their skin, and which they said nobody revels in our husbands' deaths. We wish they were alive.
COULTER: No. Technically, what they said is, we did not enjoy watching our husbands die, which, of course, isn't what I said. What I said is, they're enjoying their celebrity status, based on the fact that they can promote themselves as -- as victim spokesmen, which the left always springs on us. And it's become far more prevalent, with Cindy Sheehan and the Jersey girls and Joe Wilson -- oh, can't respond because his wife works at the CIA.
NAPOLITANO: All right.
COULTER: Well, that's the only reason he was even sent to Niger.
COULTER: Max Cleland. You can't talk to Kerry or Murtha about war, because, well, they fought in Vietnam. Well, send up somebody we can respond to, then. And, yes, you have to read the full flow of the chapter.
NAPOLITANO: What is wrong with the Jersey Girls expressing a political opinion deeply left of center?
COULTER: There's nothing. The problem is, we're not allowed to express one back. That's my point.
NAPOLITANO: All right. Why is the left, then, willing to use people who are victims to promote its political causes?
COULTER: Well, that's the question. I mean, as I describe in this chapter on the liberal doctrine of infallibility, they've come up with various methods over the years to prevent an opposing viewpoint from being heard. It used to be easy; they just wouldn't put us on TV. They had 100 percent control of all news dissemination in America. That -- that got broken by hate radio, the Internet, and, of course, Fox News, which has driven them out of their minds. And so, consequently, the next trick is to send forward these -- well, they complained about, you know, hate speech and hate radio and angry white men.
COULTER: Well, you know, they weren't sending us chocolates and flowers back when they were attacking Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Judge [Robert] Bork. What they mean by divisive voices and a lack of civility in debate is, conservatives get to talk, too. And so, now -- I mean, they done this for years, but it's far more prevalent now. They send up victim spokesmen, making the same points [Democratic National Committee chairman] Howard Dean could make, except, if you respond to Howard Dean, he won't turn around and say, “My husband died.”
NAPOLITANO: Right. Before I let you go, why do you call them godless? And who precisely are you saying is godless?
COULTER: I have already responded to that in last week's column. I'm describing the whole philosophy of liberalism, the religion of liberalism. And I call them godless because liberalism is a religion. It's just not God-based. It's precisely in opposition, the opposition party to God. They worship Mother Earth. They're obsessed with global warming and the furbish lousewort but don't mind disemboweling human embryos or humans in the womb. It is a religion. It's a godless religion.
NAPOLITANO: Ann Coulter -- the book is called Godless: The Church of Liberalism. Ann, thanks very much.
COULTER: Thank you.