Ann Coulter showed up for dinner at Cafe Luxembourg wearing a tight, stretchy blue shirt, white pants and Chanel flats. As the blond babe noire of liberal America sat down across from me, I noticed that she was beaming. And no wonder: Her new book, Treason -in which she passionately defends Joseph McCarthy and makes the case that liberals from the 1940’s to the present have not only wrecked the country but are traitors -has sold over 200,000 copies and was No. 3 on the New York Times best-seller list. And she’d just gotten word that she’d be getting a $3 million advance for her next book. Her pal Matt Drudge broke the news on his Web site.
Even Ms. Coulter’s conservative cohorts have been taken aback by Treason . Right-wing blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote an article for the London Sunday Times , titled “The Problem With Ann,” in which he declared: “American politics has been badly damaged by the scruple-free tactics of those like Michael Moore and Ann Coulter. In some ways, of course, these shameless hucksters of ideological hate deserve each other. But America surely deserves better.” (During dinner, Ms. Coulter would refer to Mr. Sullivan’s Web site as “some gay guy’s blog.”) The Wall Street Journal ‘s Dorothy Rabinowitz really went for the jugular, calling Ms. Coulter the “Maureen Dowd of the conservatives.”
“They’re getting very, very angry,” Ms. Coulter said as she ordered a glass of white wine. “Hopping mad they are! Among the things I’ve accomplished in three weeks-which 30 years of soporific academics have not been able to accomplish-is that I’ve gotten liberals to admit there were Soviet spies streaming through the government. Point two, I’ve turned comparisons to Michael Moore and Maureen Dowd into insults.”
She laughed her throaty laugh, said she was starved and ordered tuna.
“I think I’m going to lead the way to Joe McCarthy fan clubs,” she said. “Renaissance interest in Joe McCarthy is just enormous.”
What would she say if Joe McCarthy walked in?
“‘Have a seat, Joe! We have a lot to talk about.’ I would love to meet him more than any person who has lived in the past 50 years. Because he was a really funny guy. He had quite a way with words. And he had liberals down . Oh, he had them down! Their phony accents from Groton and Harvard. Oh, the way he made fun of the elites!”
But didn’t he ruin hundreds of lives?
“Not one,” she said.
A man at a nearby table was holding a cell phone to his ear and gesturing to Ms. Coulter. He leaned over and told her that his boss, a man named Greg-the other party on the phone call-was wild about her.
“God bless him,” Ms. Coulter said. She took the cell phone to have a few words with this Greg.
“I do take that the right way-I’m a conservative girl,” she said into the cell phone. “O.K. Well, the next time you’re in New York, I’ll look for you. Bye, Greg.”
I asked if she was now part of the establishment.
“All the right people still hate me,” she said, “so don’t accuse me of going mainstream.
“It’s a different world now,” she continued. “Liberals can’t control the information we get. We’ve got the Internet-and we’ve still got these old fogies living in the 1980’s afraid of upsetting Kay Graham. ‘ Oh, maybe they won’t like me at The New York Times!’ More people read the Drudge Report than The New York Times .”
Ms. Coulter recently rented a penthouse apartment in the Miami building where Matt Drudge lives. The two of them had come up from Florida just the weekend before for a party at her agent’s apartment.
Ms. Coulter said when Mr. Drudge told his mother that his friend Ann Coulter was going to defend Joe McCarthy, his mother had said in an urgent tone, “Drudge, you’ve got to stop her.”
As we waited for dinner to arrive, Ms. Coulter told me that those people blacklisted in Hollywood weren’t all that talented and that they-and the culture at large-didn’t suffer all that much. “No, the main effect of being blacklisted was you got people talking about what a great artist you were,” she said.
I asked her if it had been a great thing that the Rosenbergs were executed.
“Yes, of course,” she said. “Think about it: The Rosenbergs, essentially, to put it in criminal-law terms, conspired to murder 300 million Americans. Yes, I think they deserved the death penalty. I think that ranks higher than even Jeffrey Dahmer.”
Ms. Coulter said her next book would be titled O.K., Here Are the Names .
“That’s a joke,” she said. “All these idiot liberals are like, ‘Who? Name them!’ … I’m talking about ideas . I’m talking about an ideology. I am damning the entire party . Would that it were so, that we could haul a few traitors off and put them in Guantanomo with the rest of them! Ha ha! That would be a much easier problem to deal with. We’re talking about a sickness that has affected the entire Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has got to go away . We need a new party. It’s got to be the moderate Republicans against the Republicans. They can still be for all the kooky things they believe in-gay marriage, abortion on demand, redistribution of wealth, confiscatory taxes-but can’t both parties agree to defend the nation? Can we both get together on that?”
I told her that Frank Rich was a liberal I enjoyed reading.
“He is not one of the brilliant ones,” she said. “He is among the ones who went to see Ethel Merman in Gypsy when he was 14.”
She said she believes it will take several “electoral drubbings” to force the Democratic Party to disappear.
“My book is intended to move that process along,” she said. “It takes a long time for people to realize a party is a rotten organization.” She ordered another white wine. She said she’d heard a rumor that Barbra Streisand had given money to all the Democratic Presidential hopefuls except Senator Joseph Lieberman. If that were true, Ms. Coulter said, she could guess why: “Because he supports America and Israel, which liberals hate because both of them represent civilization under attack from savage beasts.”
Ms. Coulter said she had a TV project in the works, but it was still too early to discuss it. She said her friends in Hollywood are sure it won’t happen.
“It’s really a question of whether liberal blacklisters will prevent me from having a TV show,” she said. If not, she said, “I’m confident we’ll put out a great show. It would be enormously popular. It would make TV stations a lot of money. I told Rush Limbaugh that I think it is no coincidence that Rush made it on radio, Drudge made it on the Internet, I made it through books-the three enterprises where no one can stop us. Once we get it just between us and the American people, we do just fine.”
I needed a cigarette. We went outside to sit on a bench. An elderly lady said hello as she slowly passed, then turned around. She had recognized my companion.
“It so happens I hated Joe McCarthy,” she said with a thick accent. “I couldn’t get a visa because of him.”
“Liberals probably lied about that,” Ms. Coulter said.
The woman shook her head. “He was a monster,” she said.
“No, no. He was a pussycat. Like me,” said Ms. Coulter.
“I hate to disappoint you, Ann. You’re a nice person,” said the woman. “Just on the wrong track. Good luck.”
We went back inside. Ms. Coulter ordered chocolate mousse and more wine. I said I found it hard to argue with Treason , especially with all those footnoted sources.
“That’s why they’re going crazy!” she said. “That’s why they’re saying I’m a skinny, mean bitch.”
She said she’d been doing 80 hours of radio interviews a week. No offers yet from any of the late-night boys-no Letterman, Leno, Conan, Stewart or even Kimmel-but her publicist had been trying desperately.
“I’ve had three New York Times best-sellers in five years,” she said. “What do I have to do? Do I actually have to have a liberal shoot me?” She laughed and said she recently asked a lawyer who had represented Middle Eastern terrorists to show them her work. “Because I’m trying to get a fatwa ,” she said. “And if I haven’t gotten one yet, that just shows these people are lazy. No one deserves it more than I.”
We walked out of the restaurant into the rain. She said she was happy.
“Though I’ve been happier in the past five years, I don’t think I’ve been depressed for two seconds,” she said. “No, I’m the happiest person I know.”
It’s Just Money
Elli Fordyce, a 66-year-old actress and vocalist, is a woman of modest means. She hasn’t had a paid singing gig in 10 months; she makes her living mainly from dog-walking. Nevertheless, earlier this year she budgeted for a massage therapist to come to her apartment every day for a month. Then she blithely wrote a check for $20,000 to get bridgework done. The next week, she made arrangements to personally finance a feature-length film in which she would star.
“Spending the money, I went through a lot of great changes-emotionally, mentally and spiritually,” said Ms. Fordyce. “I felt really happy. I had a real sense of abundance and accomplishment.”
It so happens, however, that the money wasn’t real. Ms. Fordyce’s spending spree was part of a recent Internet craze that has converted nearly 10,000 people-mostly American women in their 40’s-since last October. It’s called the Prosperity Game (ProjectProsperity.org), and in this game, there are no losers or winners, only financially frustrated players who want to improve their feelings toward money and the amount of it they have.
“Even though it wasn’t happening in the real world, it was happening in my heart,” Ms. Fordyce said from her Battery Park City one-bedroom apartment, where she sleeps in the living room so that the bedroom can be rented out.
The game goes like this: Every day for 20 days, participants are e-mailed a picture of a check signed by “The Universe,” and they’re required to “spend” all the money that day on something that will make them happy. The first day, the check is for $100; the amount doubles each day until the last day of the game, when the check is $1,094,600. Players-many of whom track their spending through Microsoft Money or in journals-have been known to forget to pay their real bills with real money because they’d already paid them with the fake stuff.
The online version of the Prosperity Game was begun by Elyse Hope Killoran, 38, a Long Island divorced mother of two who works as a personal life coach. She got the idea from something called the Abraham-Hicks Organization, a Texas-based association of “spiritually evolved teachers” which publishes self-help tapes. The organization’s founders, Jerry and Esther Hicks, initially developed “rules” for a similar game. A zealous convert, Ms. Killoran decided to adapt the game so that it could be played online by e-mail. Players are also encouraged to speak affirmations aloud, including “My checking account is worth millions.”
“It’s the law of attraction,” said a serene Ms. Killoran by phone. One of her daughters was laughing or screaming in the background. “Some people call it ‘little miracles.’ Your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what you’re imagining and what’s real-so as you envision what you don’t have, you react to things differently, and your energy and your approach to life change. And you’ll often see increases in your finances. Pretending you have money when you don’t will bring money to you.”
Ms. Fordyce said that the game did bring money her way. Soon after playing, she said, she received a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation residential grant. For others, the game opened up buried issues around the old cha-ching .
“Weirdly enough, spending the money became a bit of a chore,” said Paula Carino, a Brooklyn yoga teacher and musician in her 30’s. She spent her checks on, among other things, shampoo and a house in the Catskills. “I’d look at the check and pretend I was really getting it, but after a few days, I didn’t want to think about it-didn’t want to get my hopes up,” she said. “So in a way it was successful, because it made me aware of my feelings of resistance toward money: I get a panicked feeling. I think I realized that. It made me more open to the idea of receiving money.”
“Knowing that I could spend and still have more-it was like having someone close to you say ‘I love you,'” sighed opera singer Victor Carr Jr., 38. “I realized I’d been limiting the amount of money I could have by only imaging myself with a limited amount. It got me to set higher goals. At first I bought myself sneakers, then there were Armani suits and Gucci shoes. I refinished my apartment, I got an S.U.V.- an Infinity FX45. Then I paid off my mother’s mortgage and bought a home in Florida for my sister. I told her about it. But she just wanted to know where the house keys were.”
Wendy Carrington, a fiftysomething milliner and owner of Hattitude, an upscale Tribeca hat boutique, has had a lifelong Mr. Micawber–like relationship with money, depending on luck and credit more than she’d like much of the time. ” Every small-business person has money problems,” she said. “You always spend more than what you make, and my business is basically my life. I always feel like I can’t afford things. But [the Prosperity Game] was totally freeing.”
Playing the game took Ms. Carrington an hour daily.
“The first $100-you know, $100 isn’t a big deal these days,” she said. “I bought a VCR for my bedroom. The second check was for $200, and I got some tank tops from Banana Republic. I went to the Web site and priced it to the penny-you can have a little bit left over, but if you don’t do that, you don’t get the same feeling of having spent. Then I had $300, and I bought some cosmetics and skin creams and a tooth-whitening system from a catalog, and I actually started to feel guilty! I’m saying to myself, ‘I can’t spend $300 on makeup!’ I’d forgotten it wasn’t real. My sister-in-law who turned me onto it said that she actually has been waiting for the stuff she bought to come in the mail. The next check was $500, and I got a digital camera which I really needed. It was actually $499.99. At $800 it got really fun. But I didn’t know which I really wanted more: a television with a DVD and VCR in it, or just an ordinary one with Bose speakers? I ended up buying one from Hammacher Schlemmer that had a DVD and a tape player and a nice flat screen. And I actually had $100 left, so I went back to Banana Republic and bought some panties.”
But did the process end up bringing real cash into her life?
“I guess so,” she said. “I took out a loan.”
-Anna Jane Grossman