Never mind damning with faint praise.
Right-wing provocateur Ann Coulter has hit upon a strange new form of tribute for the 45th president: praising him, if that’s the word, with brash damnation.
“The country will be in very bad shape if Trump doesn’t arise from his torpor and keep his campaign promises,” Coulter, a zealous Trumpkin during the last campaign, writes in her latest book, Resistance Is Futile! How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind, “but if we get nothing else from his presidency, at least the media will be totally discredited.”
Coulter—who recently admitted that she’s “heartbroken” that the thesis of her 2016 hagiography, In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!, didn’t pan out, especially the president’s failure to build his vaunted wall on the Mexican border—continues: “Trump may be shallow, narcissistic, disloyal, and the crudest kind of braggart, but he’s like chemotherapy for the country: it’s unpleasant to go through, you vomit, your hair falls out—but it kills cancer cells, and you live… [and] everyone on The New York Times’ editorial board will die.”
And that’s about the nicest thing Coulter can bring herself to say about her erstwhile hero: he makes you upchuck and go bald, but—metaphorically anyway—he murders elite liberal opinion writers.
In her book, Coulter offers a Jared Kushner assassination fantasy scenario, by way of dismissing the notion that Trump has obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey and offering sneaky hints of presidential pardons to the targets of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“If Trump realized that Jared Kushner was ruining his presidency and shot him, and then he fired the U.S. attorney investigating the crime, that would be a textbook case of obstruction of justice,” Coulter writes. “If he offered to pardon witnesses in exchange for their agreement to blame Steve Bannon for shooting Kushner—again: excellent example of obstruction of justice…But Trump hasn’t shot Kushner, and he probably won’t, since he doesn’t even realize that Kushner is wrecking his presidency.”
Coulter sees Ivanka Trump’s husband, the scion of a wealthy real estate family with zero government experience but who now boasts the lofty title senior presidential adviser, as a symptom of Trump’s bias toward hiring friends and family, including his fashionista-daughter, over experts who actually know what they’re talking about.
Kushner is Coulter’s top candidate as the anonymous author of last week’s New York Times op-ed by “a senior administration official” claiming to be a secret member of the insider resistance protecting the country against Trump’s worst excesses.
“Because he and Ivanka are going to have to go back to the Upper East Side and go to the Hamptons,” Coulter explains. “They’re probably worried that Trump will be removed within the next few years. They had just gone to the McCain funeral, and [the op-ed] was right after Labor Day, so they were probably feeling wistful for the Hamptons. And the only way they can get back in is if they can say, ‘Don’t worry, we’re the ones who stopped the wall.’”
Coulter added: “I don’t particularly want to attack Jared, but, OK, there was ‘Fire Jim Comey, it’s a great idea.’ There was ‘Endorse Luther Strange, it’ll be a great idea.’ There was ‘Let’s start with tax cuts, because that’s what Mitch McConnell wants.’ There was ‘Let’s hire Anthony Scaramucci—he’s fantastic, Pops!’
“And, on a larger point, there’s his prison reform, which you’d think would be a little embarrassing for a guy whose father spent time in prison"—namely Jared’s dad Charles Kushner, who served 14 months in the federal pen, plus additional time in a halfway house, after pleading guilty to tax evasion, election law violations, and witness-tampering felonies.
During a political moment when most polls indicate that Democrats will sweep into the majority in the House and possibly even win the Senate in the November mid-terms, setting the stage for a presidential impeachment, Coulter is far less happy defending her president—who “hasn’t even pulled out of all the ridiculous wars we’re in,” she says—than when she’s abusing Trump’s detractors in the Fourth Estate.
Doing the latter, she’s positively ecstatic.
“I’m sort of a Pollyanna—I look at the glass as half full,” she told The Daily Beast over lunch at Maiolino, a trendy restaurant off the lobby of the Gramercy Park Hotel, where she arrived hurriedly in a tall blonde swirl wearing a bright summer dress and a big floppy hat (either protection against the sun or being recognized and confronted by Manhattan unfriendlies).
“I lived through Nixon, I didn’t live through McCarthy but I’ve read about it,” she said about the bad press that attended the disgraced 37th president and the censured Wisconsin senator who in the '50s stoked anti-Communist hysteria. “But there’s been nothing like this”—that is, the negative coverage accorded President Trump concerning his alleged collusion with Russia and Vladimir Putin, and his possible attempt to obstruct justice.
“Frankly, I think it’s very good advice for the resistance: Stop being insane,” Coulter lectured. “There’s lots of stuff to go after this guy on… I think my book ought to be the position of every non-insane person in America. Even if you hate Trump, the media is driving sane people to be anti-anti-Trump.”
Showtime and MSNBC personality John Heilemann—a best-selling author and the sort of cable-ready Trump critic that Coulter delights in deriding—was lunching with a group of acolytes at the next table; Coulter made a few observations about him that she places off the record.
“Oh, I love that!” she gushed concerning the president’s constant attacks on journalists like Heilemann as “the enemy of the people,” regularly inciting angry crowds at his rallies to hurl invective, threats, and curses at the cordoned-off press section in back, occasionally even getting physical, reaching over the ropes to slam reporters’ laptops shut. (Coulter confided that she also adores Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns “because it drives everybody crazy.”)
“I think the media are pussies,” she said. “I’ve watched lots of the videos. I’ve seen all kinds of videos of Trump supporters, like that woman being egged in, what was it, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, California? Happy families being chased, beaten up—by people ginned up by the media. That’s what you’re talking about: Trump says something, and random people react—it’s the exact parallel.
“The only videos I see at Trump rallies are of, like, this little kid—it was hilarious—yelling ‘CNN! Fake news! Fake news! Fake news!’ and a middle-aged woman laughing about it. Yeah, maybe some get aggressive. I’d like to see the video. I think they [the media] are being a bunch of pussies, and maybe they’ll think about that when they put people like me and Sarah Huckabee Sanders and random Trump supporters in danger.”
Warming—or, rather, boiling—to her subject, Coulter cited an incident last month at a punk-rock concert in Sacramento, California, during which Social Distortion lead singer Mike Ness dived off the stage to punch out a Trump supporter who had flipped the bird at him.
“Tell me that is not like the rise of Nazi Germany, with the entire crowd holding the Trump supporter so the lead singer can beat him up,” she argued. “I mean, it is a terrifying mob. It is straight out of the French Revolution. To have that going on in this country and we pretend we’re afraid of Trump laughing about fake news? It’s like Upside-down World!”
That was about as heated as it got during a lunch conversation, and a later one, in which Coulter laughed frequently—an effervescent glissando—as she fired off yet another insult calculated to raise blood pressures and offend decent folks’ sensibilities, with her targets ranging from Jared Kushner to Bob Woodward to Omarosa Manigault Newman to Trump himself.
“If you’re going to do two things—both of which appall me as a nice Connecticut girl—Number 1, go around bragging about your wealth, and Number 2, hang around with sleazy people,” Coulter said about the president, “you’re probably gonna get a lot of lawsuits."
Coulter, a non-practicing member of the New York Bar, adds that the claims against Trump by porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, as well the accounts of some 20 women who, shortly before the election, alleged Trump had sexually harassed and/or assaulted them over the years, “are total bs.”
“I still don’t believe any of the women. As for the $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, and the money to the Playboy Bunny, for most rich people, it’s change in their couch that they can find. For mistakes you’ve made, for errors in your taxes, $130,000 is nothing… I think that was [convicted felon and former Trump attorney Michael] Cohen’s job: ‘Pay it and make it go away. I’m not gonna deal with the grifters.’”
Coulter dismissed out of hand Daniels’ claim of a one-night stand with the future president, who allegedly cheated on wife Melania in 2006 shortly after their son Barron was born.
Regarding McDougal, who received $150,000 from Trump confidant David Pecker’s American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, to keep quiet about their allegedly yearlong extramarital affair, Coulter argued: “A one-year affair and not a scrap of proof! Not a voicemail message, not a piece of jewelry, not something you left behind, not a toothbrush, not notes for her. One year? I could date a guy for a week and give you 10 pieces of evidence.”
Ever the contrarian, Coulter praises Michael Wolff’s fact-challenged yet best-selling account of a chaotic Trump White House, Fire and Fury, over Bob Woodward’s meticulously reported Fear— mainly, it seems, because Wolff devotes several pages to attacks on Trump’s press coverage as clueless and stupid.
“I don’t really believe the Woodward book because there is so much in it that is obviously untrue,” Coulter said about a volume she has yet to read. “I totally believe the Michael Wolff book. That totally rings true.”
Trump's reliance on family and friends is his weakness, said Coulter.
“This is an all-new thing for him,” Coulter said in a mild, and seemingly indifferent, defense of the president. “When you go to the White House you have a choice. Are you going to take smart people who agree with my agenda, but I’ve only met them in the last year when I suddenly realized this was my agenda? Or am I going to take family and friends who may not know anything but at least I can trust them to have my back? You know—like Omarosa.”
Fired presidential aide Manigault Newman was the star villain on The Apprentice who has turned against her former benefactor and accused him in a book—and numerous television appearances—of being mentally unsound as well as a racist, while releasing a series of audio recordings she secretly made of Trump and her White House colleagues.
“Good grief!” Coulter exclaimed. “She’s gotten like 200 interviews already, with the media saying, ‘I don’t know why she’d lie…’”
Indeed, the evidence suggests that Omarosa has absorbed the Trumpian lessons of media manipulation that have benefited her former boss—and made them her own. She has even bested the president in recent days in dominating the news cycle and cutting through the clutter.
But to Manigualt Newman’s claim that she has listened to a tape of Trump using the N-word, Coulter retorted: “Oh, there are no tapes. No one uses the N-word. This is like the fantasy of some huge, terrifying KKK in America. It’s totally Emmanuel Goldstein”—a reference to the non-existent object of the “two minutes’ hate,” the dictatorship’s method of directing the people’s rage in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.
As for Manigualt Newman’s recording of Trump reelection campaign official and presidential daughter-in-law Lara Trump offering her $15,000 a month, seemingly for no other job duties than to stifle her criticisms of the president, Coulter said: “I think that’s pretty much Al Sharpton’s deal every place he goes… You’re calling it ‘Trumpian,’ I’m saying it’s more on-the-go African-Americans in the year 2018.”
Coulter clearly doesn’t care that she’s venturing into racially offensive territory that is likely to earn her outraged blowback—indeed, she seems to revel in it.
“I think there are probably a lot of no-show jobs that pay that well, and even higher,” she says. “Look, I’m fine with set-asides, affirmative action, tell us what words—well don’t get wild, but you can tell us a certain number of sets of words we can’t use. Yes. African Americans we owe something to. But all the good social justice warrior jobs are being taken by immigrants. What’s that about? We didn’t do anything to them. But I think that’s more what we’re talking about with Omarosa.”
Yet Coulter can’t resist paying her book-tour rival—who has been breathing enviable quantities of airtime in a frenzy of self-promotion—a back-handed compliment.
“I did send out a joke that all my interviews have been canceled to make room for Omarosa.”