How to deal with a noxious but prominent commentator like Ann Coulter? Confront her bigoted remarks and outright falsehoods? Or ignore her in hopes of dimming her spotlight?
It would seem to be a lose-lose proposition.
Getting a rise out of her political opponents is her job, so challenging her on the merits only helps her sell books, which keeps her on TV.
But unless you buy out Rupert Murdoch and control your own media empire, dimming her spotlight is seemingly impossible, no matter how tightly you shut your eyes and close your ears.
Bob Borosage notes that TV producers, desperate for ratings, have no shame in booking the vapid Coulter. And I'm not holding my breath waiting for shame to arise.
Coulter's train wreck qualities practically guarantee a ratings bump for all audience-starved newstainment shows -- both from hard-core fans and disgusted opponents.
So can anything stop her from filling the national discourse with more hate and lies?
Yes. If she loses her fans.
That's not as crazy as it sounds.
After she called Muslims "ragheads" at the 2006 Conservative Political Action Conference, and John Edwards a "faggot" at the following year's conference, some conservative bloggers expressed their disapproval. An open letter posted on several conservative blogs last March said:
Coulter's invective is a sign of weak thinking and unprincipled politicking. CPAC sponsors, the Age of Ann has passed. We, the undersigned, request that CPAC speaking invitations no longer be extended to Ann Coulter. Her words and attitude simply do too much damage.
Coulter is arguably as much of a personification of the failure of conservatism as George W. Bush.
While Bush epitomizes the substantive failure of conservative policies, Coulter represents the failure to speak to the daily concerns of most Americans.
Her protestations that no one listens to her ideas mask her clear preference for insults over ideas -- the more hateful and sophomoric, the more she can claim persecution by political correctness.
As a liberal, am I afraid of Coulter? No. Read the last five years of my writings, she barely comes up.
There are hundreds of conservatives that work harder, influence more news, and generate far more unchallenged misinformation for me to worry about.
But she's a distraction who impedes a serious engagement over ideas.
Conservatism is headed towards its nadir, and conservatives can deal with that reality in two ways.
They can choose to enable Coulter, lash out at the world and wallow in a persecution complex.
Or they can choose to let her rants languish on the shelves.
When her sales drop, so will her bookings. With her off the stage and ceasing to be a distraction, conservatives will better able to engage in a factual debate over the direction of our country.
It's up to conservatives to decide if that's what they really want.
Originally posted at the Campaign for America's Future blog