Like Mike, I think Paxman “should have wiped the floor with” Coulter. But he didn’t. I admire Paxman; he adds to the gaiety of the nation. I’m still disappointed. I can think of reasons why he lost. (Is it a contest? The way Paxman plays, yes it is.) Here they are.
He had an attack of Neil Kinnock syndrome. (Do I have to explain this?)
Ms Coulter isn’t accountable to anyone; she’s a journalist. Paxo holds politicians up against their promises. He didn’t have that here.
He was under briefed; and Coulter boxes cleverer than she looks. (Yes, there are some terrible puns trying to get out there.) It all went wrong for me when Paxo tried the “You don’t really mean that, do you?” gambit, which is only marginally more likely to produce an “of course you’re right” response than “You are barking mad, aren’t you?” One problem I have is that he ought to have predicted that his question would have received her asseverative reply. And he should then have found a particularly weak passage. (She didn’t seem at all clear on alternatives to ‘Darwinism’* for instance.) The other problem is that she has been described as a “satirist”*. Now if Swift, say, had appeared in front of a leading Grub Street hack of his day and asked if he believed that the Irish poor should eat their children, he might have said ‘No.’ Or he might have said ‘Yes’ in an ironical way which told you that he meant ‘No’ and mischief besides. But Coulter deadpanned.
I don’t find Coulter funny. She has hyperbole, but so had Hitler. Her writing doesn’t have rhythm or grace. I find her polemics strangely repulsive and disturbing, like letters taunting the police from a serial killer.
But she has had a comeuppance on TV. With Alan Colmes of all people. She’s in the wrong: she does call him a liar, and doesn’t give grounds. (If I’m to sink to her style, she thinks grounds are what you throw out of the percolator.*) But there must be better ways of resolving conflict that a mirthless titter, a cheese-eating-surrender-monkeyite shrug, and a “but I’m a girl” look.
Apologies to the rest of crew here. No one’s posted in a week, so this is a placeholder, and an excuse for comments.
* Scare quotes because I prefer the term ‘[evolutionary] biology’.
* Scare quotes because there should be some humour in satire.
* I drink tea, me. But I used to watch Kojak.