Right-wing firebrand Ann Coulter, whose 2016 campaign book In Trump We Trust touted the many virtues of the Republican nominee, is having second, third, and possibly even fourth thoughts about Donald J. Trump.
“I knew he was a shallow, lazy ignoramus, and I didn’t care,” Coulter admitted to an audience largely composed of College Republicans and a few hecklers at Columbia University on Tuesday night.
It was the sort of anti-Trump invective that Coulter would share privately with pals, including this reporter, over a wine-soaked dinner during the first year of the new administration, but in recent weeks she has increasingly voiced her displeasure in public forums.
This time, Coulter—wearing her trademark slinky black cocktail dress, accessorized by a sparkling, handcuff-sized bracelet—repeatedly trashed her former hero during a supposed debate in Columbia’s Roone Arledge Cinema with her good friend, neoliberal blogger Mickey Kaus (modeling a plain blue suit and blue patterned tie).
The ostensible focus of the conversation—moderated by Kevin Can Wait showrunner Rob Long, a rare Hollywood conservative (suitless, unshaven)—was immigration policy. It’s a topic on which Coulter and Kaus largely agree (namely, curb the flow of indigent, ill-educated, unskilled arrivals and get rid of the “illegals” who depress the wages of working-class Americans). Also on the agenda was Trump’s apparent lack of interest in fulfilling his central campaign promise to erect a “big, beautiful wall” on the U.S. border with Mexico.
The debate also touched upon the opioid crisis—again, a catastrophe created by “Mexicans.” Kaus, in contrast to Coulter, argued that the United States can and should honor a long-standing tradition of admitting a reasonable number of refugees. Coulter, meanwhile, approvingly cited the strict-enforcement positions of the late Democratic congresswoman Barbara Jordan of Houston, the first African-American woman elected from the South, who argued for restricting the hiring of undocumented workers—in the national interest—when she chaired the U.S. Commission on Immigration in the 1990s.
Both Coulter and Kaus agreed that, in large part due to an “anti-Trump surge,” the GOP is likely to lose the House and possibly even the Senate in the 2018 midterm elections.
“It kind of breaks my heart,” Coulter acknowledged of her disappointment with the president, and she recounted a profanity-laced shouting match she had with Trump in the Oval Office last year over what she saw as his lackluster follow-through on immigration policy. “He’s not giving us what he promised at every single campaign stop.”
Long’s opening question to Kaus: “Mickey, if a couple of years ago you had written a book entitled In Trump We Trust, would you just feel like a total idiot right now?”
“I’d be pretty disappointed. I might even be tweeting nasty things about our president,” replied Kaus, a dutiful Democrat whose vote for Trump in November 2016 was his first for a Republican presidential or any other kind of candidate. “He’s been completely feckless,” Kaus added, noting that illegal immigration from Mexico declined in the initial months of Trump’s presidency but then “started to go back up as people started to realize that Trump’s a paper tiger.”
It was four nights after Coulter had aimed a bitter Twitter blast at the 45th president of the United States—who had complained last Friday, after signing the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that contained generous funding for liberal social and cultural programs favored by Democrats, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but zero dollars for his vaunted wall, that he would never do such a thing again.
“Yeah, because you’ll be impeached,” Coulter had tweeted to her 1.94 million followers, one of whom is Trump. (Later during the debate, she repeated a report that the president was seriously considering vetoing the spending legislation, but after White House chief of staff John Kelly explained that such a veto would mean missing his planned weekend at Mar-a-Lago, Trump said “f--- it!” and signed the bill instead.)
Coulter laughed good-naturedly when Long asked if she, too, felt like a total idiot.
“I regret nothing. I’d do the exact same thing. I’d write the exact same book, with the exact same title,” said Coulter, also the author of the racially charged 2015 anti-immigration screed ¡Adios, America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole.
“We had 16 lunatics being chased by men with nets running for president—and Trump,” she continued. “So of course I had to be pedal-to-the-metal for Donald Trump. I’d been waiting 30 years for someone to say all these things”—i.e., that Mexicans streaming across the border were drug-dealers, rapists, and murderers, among other distasteful characterizations of foreign visitors to America. “I went into this completely clear-eyed.”
Then she let fly with her “ignoramus” insult.
Coulter, not surprisingly, was targeted by shouted epithets from one or two audience members—who had been cautioned by a university official before the proceedings got under way to behave themselves and not interrupt—when she blamed income inequality in California on rampant immigration.
“We are bringing in immigrants who are good for the very rich,” she said. “They don’t live in their neighborhoods. They don’t fill up their schools or their hospital emergency rooms. And, oh boy, you should see how clean Juanita gets the bathtub. You can eat off of it after she’s done.”
“You’re a racist!” a young man yelled from the cheap seats.
“No, I’m sorry, the people bringing in Juanita, the maid, and underpaying her, are the racists,” Coulter shot back. “You are a moron!” she added—prompting a burst of applause. “You’re very stupid. I can’t argue with stupid people.”
A half-hour later, security guys surrounded another young man after he shot up from his seat, approached the front of the auditorium where Coulter was holding forth, and began shouting: “Why are you a racist and a xenophobe?... Ann Coulter has made a career on racism! Ann Coulter has said Timothy McVeigh should have bombed the New York Times building! Ann Coulter has said all terrorists are Muslim! After what happened in Dallas, do you still believe that? After what happened in Las Vegas, do you still believe that? Ann Coulter, can you answer that? Do you still believe that all terrorists are Muslim?”
Coulter, who by now is as calm handling hecklers as a Vegas lounge comedian, rolled her eyes and, as a phalanx of security men firmly steered her antagonist to the exit, retorted: “Look, I’ve paid you to be a plant and make liberals look stupid. You’ve done your job.”
Ironically, seconds earlier, Coulter had mused that if liberal Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a tough-on-trade Democrat, would run for president in 2020, she might actually vote for him.
Near the end of the evening, Long asked Coulter if her prescription for Trump’s shortcomings “is less cheerleading and more tough love.”
“Tough love, yeah,” Coulter agreed.
“So you are in favor of giving the president a spanking?” Long quipped—the night’s only reference, and a veiled one at that, to the Stormy Daniels situation.
At which Coulter laughed and said, “I do not remind him of his daughter!”