Ann Coulter has had a long, strange journey through conservative politics. Her positions during the Bush years were ridiculous yet still managed to draw my attention. She claimed biology to be bullshit, advocated for invading the entire Middle East, and said women shouldn’t have the right to vote. I am sure there are entire lists of crazy things Ann has said over the years and anyone reading this is undeniably accustomed to her bit.
Even if she said intolerably stupid things, I still always liked Ann Coulter. While I rarely agreed with her, I found myself continuing to follow her exploits through the years; I even read a few of her books (how I miss ample free time). Most of her media manifestations follow a predictable pattern where Ann says something outlandish followed by the host acting flabbergasted by her words and only responding with the most base, amateurish retort. Her recent appearance on The View, a television program not known for its highbrow philosophical dialogue, is just another in a long line of media facades ensured to garner simpleminded condemnation or celebration.
While she is still a household name in political circles, Coulter’s media ubiquity has taken a stumble in the last few years. Perhaps it has to do with newer and more bombastic characters on the right replacing her as a go-to conservative firebrand, but she has also increasingly angered mainstream conservatives in the establishment. Her most recent book, Adios Amigos!, focuses entirely on immigration and why Ann wants to see it halted. While her previous books slandered liberals as traitors and fools, they provided enough political red meat to placate various circles in the conservative movement. The narrative she builds around immigration is not one beltway Republicans are interested in discussing, especially as they try to move their party towards a moderate position on the subject. When the Republican primary first launched, the leading candidates (Bush, Walker, and Rubio) all had “moderate” positions on immigration, giving strategists hope that their party could mount a campaign capable of harvesting migrant votes.
Then in walked Donald Trump. He wasn’t content to say immigration was bad for America or the economy, but framed it as a plot by criminal groups and governments to infiltrate America and undermine its institutions and society. When Trump said he wanted to “make America great again,” it wasn’t hard to decipher which group of people he felt made the nation weaker to begin with.
While Trump reminds us ad nauseam of his superior intellect, I would wager he has not thought long and hard about his current crop of positions. Anti-immigration rhetoric is nothing new on the right; a slew of prominent sites like American Renaissance and VDare have spent the last few decades beating this very drum. But these sites have a limited appeal beyond their immediate base of readers, and I doubt Trump would have spent late nights poring through articles disparaging immigration and migrants. These ideas needed a simplified, media-savvy repackaging Trump could proclaim and refashion for use in a political campaign. Trump unquestionably knew Ann Coulter, and her new book was just the kind of text Trump could use as the philosophical core of his campaign.
This theory is more than simple conjecture. Coulter recently opened for Trump at an event in Iowa, asserting themes about Mexicans that even the Donald wouldn’t mention.
Ann also stated in a recent interview that Trump borrowed heavily from her recent book.
“Donald Trump read it,” Coulter said during the videotaped interview, held in a small side room where this reporter happened to walk in and film without objection at the Politicon conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center. “So you’re gonna understand everything that’s happening over the next year if you read it. It’s where he got that spicy stuff on Mexican rapists.”
Obviously, most pundits claim their work influences figures of power, but corroborating statements made by Trump appear to confirm Coulter’s assertion. A few months back, Trump argued:
“The Mexican government forces many bad people into our country because they’re smart,” he told interviewer Katy Tur. “They’re smarter than our leaders, and their negotiators are far better than what we have, to a degree that you wouldn’t believe. They’re forcing people into our country. … And they are drug dealers and they are criminals of all kinds. We are taking Mexico’s problems.”
In Coulter’s recent book, she stated:
“Sending undesirable immigrants to an enemy nation is a war tactic, such as, in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter idiotically offered to take any Cubans who wanted to come to America and Fidel Castro responded by emptying Cuba’s prisons and mental institutions onto the Mariel boatlift. Today, immigration is again being used as a war technique by America’s enemies: Democrats. Instead of Communist dictators conniving to send their headaches to the United States, American liberals are conniving to bring them here– and then hand them voter registration cards. Third World immigration is a win-win for the Left. They can instruct immigrants on hating the country and get their housework done at the same time!” [Adios, America, pgs. 21-22, 2015]
As my college professors used to say, there is a lot to unpack here, but a rhetorical link is clear. Both positions pronounce a litany of conspiracies behind America’s immigration policy, but they share the inkling that nations, political parties, and specific ethnic groups use immigration as a political tactic against the American state.
While Ann may have fallen out of favor with the National Review crowd, she may now have the ear of America’s next president. It’s a long shot, but still a possibility. Coulter’s impetuous panache was never going to put her in office, but Trump’s recent success may have her visualizing a cushy government appointment in his administration.
It sure beats appearing on Sean Hannity’s show.
(Image: Trump and Coulter pics via WikiCommons)