Paul Greenberg

Leave it to Florence King, in the current issue of National Review, to dissect the trouble with Ann Coulter, much as a pathologist would any dangerous growth. Miss Florence uses a scalpel rather than Ms. Coulter's own weapon of choice, the verbal sledgehammer.

Ann Coulter never tires of swinging it - in that same dead, inflectionless voice. It's like listening to a zombie who for some inexplicable reason has developed an interest in current events. That lockjawed monotone gets to you after an unnerving while. Someone once described her as Twiggy with Tourette's.

Florence King's thesis is that La Coulter is emblematic, and symptomatic, of our media culture. No one has said it better - or even said it. Miss King's essay is a public service but it has the sound of a private, civilized conversation, which is the best kind of commentary. There is a devastating fairness about her analysis, as in this pithy summation:

"At her best, Ann Coulter writes well, but the chief source of her success is that she is a perfect match for the American ideal: smart as a whip but dumb as a post, educated but not learned, sexy but not sensuous, all at the same time."

Yes, that's it. Perfect. And, like perfection, concise. Ann Coulter is television's idea of a sharp conservative. It's hard to forgive Miss Coulter for perpetuating that caricature - for she's smart enough to know what she does and how much it pays.

En route to her conclusion, Miss King recalls some of the best lines of Jennie Churchill and Dorothy Parker, just to demonstrate what wit once was. Thanks, ma'am, we needed that after having to think about Ann Coulter for a couple of close-set pages of type. The worst should never be held up for inspection without affording the reader a little relief by quoting the best.

Recommended reading: "Watch Ann Go Whoosh!" in the Aug. 7, 2006, National Review.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.