On Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter defended her inflammatory attacks on the widows of 9-11 victims -- who she said "enjoy their husbands' deaths" and "revel in their status as celebrities" -- by attacking other people she accused of using their "personal story" to gather support for a political cause.
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In an interview on the June 8 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter defended the inflammatory attacks in her new book on the widows of 9-11 victims -- who she said "enjoy their husbands' deaths" and "revel in their status as celebrities" -- by attacking other people she accused of using their "personal story" to gather support for a political cause. Beyond naming the "Jersey Girls" again, referring to the 9-11 widows who pushed for the establishment of the commission to investigate the attacks -- Coulter also singled out Vietnam war veteran and former Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), a triple amputee who lost his seat to Republican Saxby Chambliss in the wake of a smear campaign attacking his patriotism, and the late actor Christopher Reeve, whom she criticized for "arguing for stem cell -- embryonic stem-cell research -- not adult stem-cell research." Claiming, "You never see it on the other side" -- that conservatives don't similarly use their "personal stories" as the catalyst for political activism -- Coulter said, "Just make the argument. Be a man. Step up to the plate."
Host Neil Cavuto apparently agreed, saying, "To challenge them almost looks sacrilegious."
Specifically, Coulter falsely denied that some 9-11 victims' relatives promote President Bush and conservative viewpoints. Coulter said, "To the extent you have had any relatives of 9-11 victims on TV [promoting Republicans or conservative views], you've seen them on one time and it's pretty much in response to the Jersey Girls." In fact, relatives of victims of the attacks repeatedly appeared on television in support of Bush's 2004 re-election campaign and more recently to rally support for other controversial policies, including the administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program. During the opening night of the 2004 Republican National Convention, three relatives of 9-11 victims gave speeches broadcast on national television -- Debra Burlingame, whose brother died in the attacks; and Deena Burnett and Tara Stackpole, who both lost their husbands. On numerous occasions, Burlingame publicly supported Bush's re-election. Following the public disclosure of Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program, Burlingame defended the program in a February 6 New York Post op-ed and in appearances on the April 3 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show and on the January 30 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes. Further, a conservative advocacy group, Progress for America, released an ad in October 2004 in support of Bush's re-election titled "Ashley's Story." In the ad, 16 year-old Ashley Faulkner, whose mother died on 9-11, recounted the story of Bush embracing her at a campaign event. Said Faulkner: "He's the most powerful man in the world and all he wants to do is make sure I'm safe, that I'm OK."
Earlier in the interview, Coulter argued that Osama bin Laden is "completely irrelevant" and compared him to an "old celebrity." She also suggested that Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), a vocal critic of the war in Iraq, had not responded to the news of the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In fact, Murtha had repeatedly appeared on television that afternoon, describing Zarqawi as "a real thorn in the side of the Americans" and calling his death "significant."
From the June 8 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto:
CAVUTO: I always think of you -- there are so many other things in the book that did not get proper attention. But maybe given --
COULTER: That's what I think.
CAVUTO: -- given today's developments maybe will prove you really prescient. And one is this idea of taking out the terrorists, properly focusing on the role that they play in all of this. What did you make, first of all, of the reaction to this today?
COULTER: It was almost, like, the way I would parody some liberals, saying, "Oh, this is just going to stem the -- or, rather, encourage the cycle of violence. They'll resent us. We'll resent them. Can't we just say stop?" That's something I'd say as a joke.
CAVUTO: But Nancy Pelosi and others -- and we're going to be running some of the choicer ones --
COULTER: That was Nick Berg's father I was --
CAVUTO: That's right. I saw that.
COULTER: The cycle of violence.
CAVUTO: Of course, he thinks the president should be impeached, but that's a whole separate story. But the official Democratic argument against this is, "We're glad now, Mr. President, you got focused on Al Qaeda and not this whole Iraq obsession." What did you make of that?
COULTER: Oh, that's -- I did not know that's what was said. It's funny how they describe the war on terrorism in the most limited way possible. It apparently consists of catching Osama bin Laden, who's really basically irrelevant at this point. He's like, you know, an old celebrity. You can't really remember -- is he alive or dead? That guy passed away a few years ago. He's completely irrelevant.
CAVUTO: But the fact that he could be alive, that's a big deal, right?
COULTER: He could be alive, but what's he doing? He's hiding in a cave. Al-Zarqawi was a much bigger enemy than Osama bin Laden at this point. But they want to distinguish everything -- the war in Iraq, al-Zarqawi from -- you know, the war on terror is one thing -- catching Osama Bin Laden -- so that they can complain about every other aspect of the war on terrorism.
CAVUTO: You linked the two -- that is the war in Iraq with fighting terrorists -- together. On Page 131 of your book, you said, "We're winning this war and we are winning it because of brave men like Casey Sheehan" -- you're referring to Cindy Sheehan's son -- "who do not decide to throw in the towel every time an American dies. More than 100 Americans died at Lexington Green and Concord. Should we have quit then?" You say the same about the Civil War, you say the same about what seemed to be a quagmire then -- had the daily drill of the media been then and the critics been there, we might have had a different outcomes.
COULTER: It's hard to imagine -- the way the media carries on about what is a surprisingly low-casualty war compared to other wars. I mean, it is a war -- that's the operative word. You can't imagine trying to fight World War II with this commotion and carrying on every time a soldier dies. I mean, it might --
CAVUTO: Twenty thousand at Normandy within 48 hours.
COULTER: Right, right. I mean, it's stunning what our military has accomplished with as few casualties as they've had. I mean, obviously it breaks everyone's heart because these are our greatest Americans.
CAVUTO: But let me get your reaction while I've got you here, Ann. [Sen.] John Kerry [D-MA] reacting to this. I think we have a -- "Our troops have done their job in Iraq. It's time to work with the new Iraqi government to bring our combat troops home by the end of the year."
COULTER: Well, at least he's not demanding taking every activity in the war on terrorism as an opportunity to appeal to the French again. That was his last -- the last shibboleth he had going after we captured Saddam.
CAVUTO: So you're just dismissing him.
COULTER: I think that was his response. "This gives us a great opportunity to appeal to the French."
CAVUTO: Do you -- obviously you've been on this book tour and you've gotten some pretty heated reaction.
CAVUTO: The Matt Lauer thing should have been a pay-per-view event. But the 9-11 widows thing, which is actually a very small part of your book -- was that over the top?
COULTER: No, I don't think so at all. The point -- that is in the chapter on liberal infallibility and, I mean, I think I'm not the only one seething with anger at this technique of the left to send out spokesmen who we're not allowed to respond to.
CAVUTO: But what if 9-11 widows -- and I just thought of you to say --
COULTER: It's not 9-11 widows. It's the Jersey Girls. It is four 9-11 widows.
CAVUTO: They're widows. They're widows. OK.
COULTER: Eighty percent of women are going to be widows at some point.
CAVUTO: Fine. But I'm saying, what if it had been around and they had rallied around the president, would you have criticized them? They too would have been political.
COULTER: You can't imagine that happening, because it never happens on the other side. To the extent you have had any relatives of 9-11 victims on TV, you've seen them on one time and it's pretty much in response to the Jersey Girls that you've seen some of the other relatives come on and say, "No, no, no. You're not speaking for us." You never see it on the other side. And as I say in that chapter, this isn't the only time. I mean, of course, there's Cindy Sheehan. There's Joe Wilson. Can't respond, can't point out that his wife works at the CIA. There's Max Cleland, there's Murtha. I mean it goes back to Caroline McCarthy, the congressman from Long Island whose husband was shot on the Long Island railroad. It's always -- and Christopher Reeve, arguing for stem-cell -- embryonic stem-cell research -- not adult stem-cell research.
CAVUTO: To challenge them almost looks sacrilegious.
COULTER: Right, right. They always send in someone who, because of a personal story, we're not allowed to respond to. We don't do that. Just make the argument. Be a man. Step up to the plate.
CAVUTO: I read this and I think, "She did this to get a reaction."
COULTER: Well, I wrote the whole book to get a reaction.
COULTER: And to get people to read it. But I did know that liberals would say that this book was over the top, that I've gone too far this time, because they say that every time.
CAVUTO: But you know -- I know you can dish it out.
COULTER: No, I've heard it about a hundred times before.
CAVUTO: And you take it when people come at you like this.
COULTER: I would have retired by now if I couldn't. They say it every time, that, you know, "This time" -- as if they've been sending me flowers and roses until now -- "This time it's over the line." I did not know what it was going to be. And actually some of my friends had read the book and we were all kind of surprised.
CAVUTO: But to that point -- I know you can dish it out. But when so many people come out against you, when everyone is diverse. Today, from [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] to [New York] Governor [George] Pataki, a Republican, come out and criticize some comments. Does that hurt you?
COULTER: Governor who? Wait, was that the guy who promised to lower our taxes?
CAVUTO: A little bit. A little bit, right?
COULTER: That Pataki?
CAVUTO: All right, I had a feeling I'd get --
COULTER: Well no, you must not have followed my career. I've been through this before.
CAVUTO: Well, it's number one on Amazon right now, but do you think this cause of going after terrorism -- taking out Zarqawi today -- actually refocuses people on the real war going on here? Or is it just a short-life thing, much as it was when we got Saddam out of that hole?
COULTER: I don't know. I mean, we'll have to see. It's a great day for America. It's a great day for our troops. It's certainly a day to be proud. And I think, whether or not it refocuses people, I do think it's going to change the course of the war. This is a major victory today. I mean, the insurgency has been dealt such an enormous blow -- so much bigger than if this had been Osama's head on a silver platter.
CAVUTO: So the praise that you're seeing from the left today -- fainting as it might be -- is just par for the course?
COULTER: Yes, yes. Has Murtha spoken yet, by the way?
CAVUTO: I don't know, I don't know. The book is Godless, the author is Ann Coulter, it's number one on Amazon.