Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ann Coulter on "The View"

Ann Coulter was on "The View" yesterday, promoting her latest book Guilty. The ladies of "The View" have frequently been a topic of conversation on The Situation, usually when we're analyzing their individual disagreements. In this segment, however, they all come together to collectively question Coulter's motivation and understanding of and bias against single motherhood. At one point, Sherri Shepherd even calls Coulter out for being disrespectful to Barbara Walters. I've watched this clip twice, and I'm having a hard time determining if anything of substance is actually said by anyone. Thoughts, Situationers? Do the co-hosts point out flaws in Coulter's argument or do they simply let their emotions get the better of them?


harrogate said...

What seems particularly unfortunate about this discussion to Harrogate, is that despite all the extremely poor Rhetorical skills all of them put on display, there are interesting points being raised.

Coulter certainly has a legitimate issue, speaking to the way in which we lionize single motherhood and at the same time disparage the nuclear family in myriad ways, and to a definite fault.

There is definitely a lot to Coulter's argument that single mother homes as less healthy for children, and that though we know this, we ignore it, and often applaud pop cultural representations of single women actively seeking children.

Where Coulter crashes and burns, in Harrogate's opinion, is the way she totalizes the problem in an easy to grasp political framework. But this is how she approaches every question.

The View Ladies sense that she is wrong to make it a cleanly Left/Right issue. But Harrogate would be as nervous as hell, if he were depending on these ladies to make a sound argument.

M said...

I agree that Coulter may make some valid points (it pains me to say this, really and truly. I also will not be reading this point, so I can't speak to the validity of her individual points.). I agree with Whoopi on one point though; if she is using only the sources that Coulter cites in this interview, her research is faulty as many of these sources are out of date. I also want to give props to Elisabeth Hasselbeck for her very cogent point. Why is that we only lambast the single mother? Why aren't we attacking the fathers who choose not to parent their children?

harrogate said...

But m, Harrogate has to disagree with Elisabeth's query as well as your agreement with it:

"Why is that we only lambast the single mother? Why aren't we attacking the fathers who choose not to parent their children?"

Coulter responded to this with arguments that make some sense when you get past her manifest nastiness (an enterprise difficult to achieve).

First of all, we do not "lambast" the single mother as a culture. We celebrate her throughout the popular culture. The View discourse touched on race a couple of times: we can take it there too, and point out that anyone familiar with college or NBA basketball knows that the single mother is a sacrosanct being in African American popular discourses.

And then, look at the way that the movie Juno wound up lionizing theJennifer Garner character. In truth she wound up privileging her overriding desire for a baby over and above the health of her marriage, and the movie validated her choice (it is important that we recognize that Bateman's scuzzy come-on to the surrogate mother was actually a way for the narrative to cause us to gloss Garner's selfishness as "maternal drive"). At movie's end we see that the husband is gone, but hey no biggie: Garner has gotten her baby, and all is right with the world.

As for asking why we do not attack deadbeat dads, surely, dear m, you and Elisabetrh are not playing fair here. The deadbeat dad archetype is, appropriately, one of our most familiar cultural punching bags.

Even in the largely amoral world of male friendship, where it is expected that men always get one anothers' backs, men will drop friends who don't do right by their children (they often will not drop friends, for example, for committing infidelity).

By extension and rightfully, there is a multiplicity of laws on the books to punish men who abandon their responsibilities. And, hard to find movies that sympathetically engage fathers who are not there for their children.

M said...

You make some cogent points, Harrogate, but I want to raise one point regarding "absent fathers." Yes, dead beat dads are a cultural archetype in our society, and there are numerous laws trying to keep them in line--at least financially. My point though is that there is no one blames the crime rate on absent fathers, but they do blame it on single mothers. There is a disconnect in this argument. What I think that Coulter is trying to point out, and you are so right that her extreme nastiness gets in the way of this, is that single motherhood is not the ideal that Hollywood wants us to think it is. She is trying to suggest that choosing single motherhood may not be in the best interest of the child. I can buy this, to some degree. But what she fails to recognize is that most women who choose to become single mothers, i.e., intentionally seek to become pregnant or to adopt a child or to have a child through a surrogate on their own, are more financially and emotionally stable than the average woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and chooses to have the baby without or the involvement of the father. That statistic alone, economic stability, changes the statistics that Coulter refers too. Further, as far as I can tell, Coulter doesn't offer any solutions to what she clearly sees as a pandemic problem.

harrogate said...


those are all points Harrogate wholly signs onto. the issue of economic solvency is of course determinative absolutely needs to be facotred into the research to make it valid. and of course coulter will not make that move, because she belongs to a dogmatic school of thinking whereby there is no poverty in American that is not deserved.

and ye are absolutely correct that in framing her 'research' as an indictment on single mothers, without acknowledging the impact of the absent father, only further undermines her work.

harrogate does wonder, though, what we would find if we began to examine differences in trajectory between children raised middle class, single parent versus two parent homes. it may well be that even wioth economic solvency accounted for, the kids with two parents turn out less vulenrable to criminal behavior, among other things.