Ann Coulter is the Right kind of woman. Strutting her political stuff, all flowing hair and short skirts, Coulter validates right-wing misogynist bluster and class arrogance. Ms. Coulter mistakes capitulation for independent thinking, when in fact, as long as she echoes Dennis Miller or Bill O'Reilly-attacking anyone who questions American aggression abroad, claiming that Bill Clinton lies with ease, and chanting "classic liberal scandal!"-she'll have a job. To be sure, it is a lucrative career move; reactionary polemic pays well.  

Like Dennis Miller, whose transformation from liberal stand-up to conservative rant man boggles the senses, Ann Coulter has broken the code for success in the American hyper-conservative media: embrace the ideology of the moment and claim it as one's own. In the world of mostly male, self-important talk television, female collusion makes an if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em kind of sense. In this case, like Camille Paglia, for example, a woman spouts the illiberal ideas most damaging to other women and earns access to those prizes-wealth, television face time, book contracts-largely controlled by men.

Speaking her heroes' bullying language, Coulter limits herself to the biggest bigoted hits of the 1990's. For example, she recycles a well-worn disdain for the poor: "Instead of poor people with hope and possibility," she has said, "we now have a permanent underclass of aspiring criminals knifing one another between having illegitimate children and collecting welfare checks." If this sounds familiar, it is. A decade ago we heard the same paean to the failures of welfare from William Bennett, George Will, Alan Bloom, even Bill Clinton. She defends Haliburton doing business with Iraq, revises history to make Joe McCarthy a hero, and famously calls for a return to the Crusades. (Who can forget her post-911 rant: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them all to Christianity.")

Note that her heroes are men, her models regressive and her role supportive. She believes deeply in her own relevance, when in fact the boys have simply allowed her to join in. She has no role outside the one the Right has opened up for her, no opinions beyond those she siphons like a good daughter from her political fathers (Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, etc.). There are still limited spaces for women in popular discourse, and the Right seems to have used her to meet its quota. She is the Right's only female star.

Why take this supportive role? What might motivate Coulter's attacks on the liberal politics that open opportunities for women? Why practice a politics of exclusion and bullying? Because the surest way to secure one's success as a member of an embattled group-like women in patriarchy-is to fashion oneself as the exception. (Don't worry boys; there are no more of my kind coming.) By denying her own privileged status, and advancing the myth of American media as fair, balanced and inclusive, Coulter secures an exceptional career within the status quo.

The rhetorical gymnastics required of her position produce some curious results. For example, as the Chandra Levy tragedy was unfolding in 2001, Coulter insisted that feminism--not cheating or abusive men--had "stripped women of the sense" that they could "rely on the institution of marriage" and had given "men license to discard their wives." Following Coulter's logic, then, in daring to claim women's right to chose their own sex partners, feminists themselves encouraged Gary Condit to cheat on his wife and put Chandra Levy at risk. (Notice how Coulter obediently deflects any hint of guilt away from the straying husband and lays it solidly at the feet of those women who annoy her heroes.)

And absolutely without irony, she continues her critique of feminism: "This is what happens when you allow women to think about public policy." Does she not make her living thinking "about public policy"? Well, that's not the point, really. She does not consider herself a member of the group she calls "women." Perhaps she's not: likely, she does not fret over unjust pay scales, the cost of daycare, the safety of her neighborhood or feel exposed to violence in her own home. As an apologist for xenophobic hysteria, masculine aggression, capitalist impunity, and anti-feminist propaganda, Coulter publicly mistakes herself for a spokesman for the reactionary Right. That's the point, really.