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We reported this morning on the powerful exchange between conservative commentator Ann Coulter and wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards. If you missed it, in a nutshell Ann Coulter was on Hardball when she took a call from Elizabeth Edwards asking her to raise the level of her political discussion, to stop in her words "debasing" the political debate. Edwards was referring to comments like Coulter's making fun of the death of Edwards' son when she said John Edwards had a bumper sticker on the back of his car that read, "Ask me about my dead son."
I know many of you may agree with a good deal of what Ann Coulter advocates, but even if you do - is there a part of you that cringes when she says something about someone's dead son? I cannot imagine that reference being Okay under any circumstances. And I know she's not the only one who debases the discussion. I think many other people of both political persuasions are guilty in this regard. The issue is larger than Ann Coulter. She was just the catalyst for my thoughts today, and I'd like to know what you think.
I offer these thoughts as a woman who has said things on the air that I wish I could take back. I have never said something mean-spirited about anyone that I didn't regret. No matter how passionate in the moment, or how much I was looking to get a laugh or a reaction, it never justified the cruelty. I have hurt over words I've said. It doesn't seem like Ann Coulter suffers in this way, but she may. She may somewhere in her heart worry about the legacy of her words, as I have on a much smaller scale.
There must be a way to disagree, even vehemently, without attacking the humanity of our opponent. I believe we are capable of a higher level of discourse. I commit to hold myself to that higher standard, and encourage you to call me on it any time I fall down.