advertisement

GEORGE KENNEDY: High turnout at Coulter event leaves worrisome implications

Thursday, April 12, 2012 | 6:34 p.m. CDT

About 30 of us filled the community room at the south-side HyVee on Tuesday to meet the leading Republican candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate. I was there in search of information.

The next evening, at least 10 times that many spent less than an hour in the Missouri Theatre listening to the aptly introduced “conservative provocateur” Ann Coulter deliver well-worn one-liners and then get to her real goal – selling books. I hoped to be entertained.

The contrasts in attendance, in substance and in journalistic coverage say, it seems to me, something worrisome about our political culture. When celebrity trumps seriousness, we all lose.

I’m almost certainly not going to vote for Dave Spence for governor, but I was glad to shake his hand, exchange pleasantries and then listen as he recited his biography (54 years old, an MU graduate in home economics, successful manufacturer of plastic products, father of four, first-time candidate). He said he has led “an exemplary life.” I don’t doubt it.

Nor could I question his assertion that the sorry state of Missouri’s education funding and economy is “not acceptable.” I was a little puzzled, though, when he said, “We need to think like Missourians.” That’s what has gotten us into this mess, isn’t it? “Accepting mediocrity,” which he decried, could almost be our state motto.

He didn’t tell us what he’d do to change all that.

Todd Akin, who’s running against Sarah Steelman and several no-hopers for the right to oppose Senator Claire McCaskill, displayed the political polish Mr. Spence lacks. He has represented the toniest suburbs of St. Louis since 1988, first in the state legislature and now in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He wants to repeal Obamacare, confirm conservative judges, cut welfare programs and grow the military. In response to a question, he said impeaching President Barack Obama just isn’t practical as long as the Democrats control the Senate.

“Freedom is under siege in Washington,” he said. President Obama, he said, “is a complete menace to our freedom.”

Ms. Coulter would broaden that indictment. Democrats, she said, “are like a degenerate brother-in-law who borrows money and spends it on crack and hookers.”

President Obama, she conceded, “would probably be a great neighbor, unless you’re Chinese. Then he’d constantly be borrowing stuff.”

Those quips, which she seemed to enjoy at least as much as her audience did, will give you a sense of the level of her political discourse. She didn’t bring her A game to Columbia, I thought, as she hurried through a disjointed 20 minutes and took only three questions. (She did, however, offer a piece of career advice to students. “Don’t go to law school.” She holds a law degree from the University of Michigan but didn’t like practicing.)

She has never run for public office, but she joked that she’d like to head the federal Department of Health and Human Services under President Romney. She’d impose mandates, she said, including a requirement that insurance policies cover the cost of firearms and another to require the purchase of her books.

Those books were on sale in the lobby, with the promise of autographs on stage after her performance. The latest is titled “Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America.” Another I resisted buying is “If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d be Republicans.”

University police officers were posted in front and back of the auditorium, I suppose in case the liberal mob showed up. Other than me, no Democrats were in evidence inside the theater. Outside after the show, two female students stood with placards less incendiary than Ms. Coulter’s style.

One read “Ann Coulter is NOT Mizzou.”

I hope she’s right about that.

George Kennedy is a former managing editor at the Missourian and professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism.


Like what you see here? Become a member.


Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Comments

Ellis Smith April 12, 2012 | 8:53 p.m.

So then who, in the political spectrum, IS emblematic of MU? Let's limit answers to living persons. :)

(Report Comment)
Keith Young April 12, 2012 | 9:26 p.m.

George Kennedy is not Mizzou either. A journalist should not be a democratic hack. Why is he not asking Roger Wilson tough questions and investigating and writing about something that really matters?

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum April 13, 2012 | 1:16 a.m.

Is this not an editorial? Keith, your ad hominem attack here seems baseless and unwarranted. What does Roger Wilson have to do with this? This editorial is about Ann Coulter, an entertainer that deals in shock-talk. She's also running out of material. Atkins diet jokes in 2012?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 13, 2012 | 3:17 a.m.

I wouldn't say 300 people is Mizzou, nor would I call that a perticularly high turnout. There's plenty of people that listen to Limbaugh and Hannity that would enjoy her views. Plus, she has that attractive conservative woman appeal that Palin also has.

It's no big deal one way or another.

DK

(Report Comment)
Cecil Caulkins April 13, 2012 | 5:46 a.m.

George, I'm 72. In my lifetime, celebrity has always trumped seriousness. Also, a lot of people are weary of the seemingly endless political campaigns and politicking to which we have been subjected. I wouldn't watch 30 seconds of Ann Coulter, let alone 30 minutes, but I can see why people would prefer to be entertained rather than enlightened (if enlightenment is really what occurred at the candidates' gathering).

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 13, 2012 | 11:28 a.m.

I ask again, who in the political spectrum IS emblematic of MU? This must be a live person, but he/she doesn't necessarily have to be from domestic politics.

In the international arena, maybe it's that lady who said, "The trouble with Socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money to spend."

(Of course if you're in charge of your country's treasury you can simply print more money.)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 13, 2012 | 11:40 a.m.

George says he hopes “Ann Coulter is NOT Mizzou.”

That means he has something/someone in mind. He should identify/explain, else the comment is vacuous and all he did was repeat a sound bite (unoriginal, at that).

PS: If Coulter doesn't get one-liners and sound bites, neither do you.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 13, 2012 | 12:04 p.m.

Twenty minutes and three questions? What a rip-off.

(Report Comment)
Cheyenne Greene April 13, 2012 | 1:39 p.m.

Ann Coulter for President!! She's got to do a better job than what we've had.

(Report Comment)
Brian Trenhaile April 13, 2012 | 3:21 p.m.

Cheyenne Greene
"Ann Coulter for President!! She's got to do a better job than what we've had."

Sorry Cheyenne - April Fools is over.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 13, 2012 | 3:58 p.m.

Ann Coulter is the
Best articulator of
Conservatism.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor April 13, 2012 | 4:55 p.m.

I am going to go out on a limb and say our president was elected mainly due to celebrity and charm and not substance.

I don't think being an affirmitive action "c" student with a few years of community organizing and a few years as a state senator (from a state with more politicians in the clink than the retirement home..) qualifies as substantive when speaking of qualifications for the most powerful office in the world!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 13, 2012 | 6:37 p.m.

@ Mike Mentor:

I'm not sure you are going out on much of a limb, Mike. Give our President his due: he's bright (even if we don't agree with him), personable and without doubt knows how to run a successful political campaign. His campaign against Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries will be studied by political scholars for years to come.

One reason why he has dissatisfied many people, including more than a few who voted for him, is that his 2008 supporters expected far too much of him. Wishes seldom create reality, and those who expect another person to raise them up need to get off their asses and do some some raising on their own.

It is sometimes better to begin one's Presidency with much lower expectations, a good example being when Harry Truman became president. Harry definitely exceeded expectations!

But then what do I know? I'm just a dumb engineer from a tiny school in the Missouri Ozarks. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our Curators for giving us indoor plumbing in 2011.

I'm also an engineer who is still waiting for George to tell us which living political figure is emblematic of MU.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop April 15, 2012 | 5:38 a.m.

I can see why many think the present administration in the White House is transparent. It has no substance.

(Report Comment)
Melinda Lockwood April 16, 2012 | 10:23 a.m.

Are her comments any more "worrisome" than those of Bill Maher? Both are entertainers and both "speak" what many who watch them are thinking but are afraid to say. It's entertainment George.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt April 18, 2012 | 3:48 p.m.

I'm not sure why everyone is hounding George to state who "is" MU in his view. For one, it's irrelevant. Two, it's logically fallacious to assume that not wanting Coulter to represent Mizzou means he has to have someone else in mind. My indecision as to who I'd like to be president doesn't prevent me from excluding Gary Busey as an option.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt April 18, 2012 | 3:50 p.m.

I'm not sure why everyone is hounding George to state who "is" MU in his view. For one, it's irrelevant. Two, it's logically fallacious to assume that not wanting Coulter to represent Mizzou means he has to have someone else in mind. My indecision as to who I'd like to be president doesn't prevent me from crossing out Gary Busey as an option.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt April 18, 2012 | 3:53 p.m.

Bleh, sorry for the now triple-posting. The first one didn't appear after submitting it, so I posted it again after some minor editing.

I've gotten in the habit of making sure to copy my comments before hitting post, just in case they fail to go through, like it seemed to be the case here.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 19, 2012 | 5:36 a.m.

"Logically fallacious"? That's truly impressive. Repeated (posted twice) too. When someone posits that a celebrity is NOT MU it seems logical to determine what their "standard" is by asking who the the political arena they think typifies MU.

The questioning of George was obviously in jest, something in short supply around these parts. Some folks take themselves too seriously.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble April 20, 2012 | 7:18 a.m.

While the low turnout at the legitimate political event is worrisome, I don't think Mr. Kennedy needs to worry about the "high" turnout for Coulter, which was anything but. 300 attendees at a free show with a "celebrity" in a 1,200-seat theater is pathetic, and is more evidence of Coulter's general irrelevance than anything else.

What's more troubling is the stunted non-thought presented by many commenters here. Coulter for president? Excusing bad behavior by pointing it out in others? Defending it by asking why other bad behavior isn't given equal space? Dismissing a constitutional law professor as an "affirmative action student"? This is sad, poor-quality thinking and even worse beliefs on display, evidence of the mental and ethical rot brought on by hatemonger non-thinkers like Coulter and her ilk.

(Report Comment)
Chris Roll April 21, 2012 | 10:28 p.m.

I'm Chris Roll, student reporter for Vox and The Missourian.

I'm going to try my best not to get political here, but I think it's funny to read the differing interpretations of the audience for the event. Vox's blog coverage said "Half the seats were empty". This piece focuses on the exact number present (300-ish, by Kennedy's estimation). Kind of a "glass half empty, glass half full" situation, depending on how you want to look at it.

Either way, it's just my random observation.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt April 24, 2012 | 1:11 p.m.

Ellis said: "When someone posits that a celebrity is NOT MU it seems logical to determine what their "standard" is by asking who the the political arena they think typifies MU."

Once again, saying "Gary Busey would NOT be a good president" does not mean one has to have a specific alternative in mind. Being a drug-addled, washed-out quasi-celebrity with a criminal record is enough to not want him in office.

"The questioning of George was obviously in jest, something in short supply around these parts. Some folks take themselves too seriously."

It certainly wasn't in jest. It was just another example of the mostly conservative audience disagreeing with the mostly liberal writer, the questioning being part of the argument against him. "You don't have an answer, therefore I win."

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.

advertisements