The Ann Coulter you don't know

Tolerance for differing viewpoints…a willingness to stand up to the GOP’s titans…is this the Ann Coulter that liberals loathe and Republicans love? That is exactly her. But you’re not supposed to tell anyone. In fact, one of the carefully guarded secrets of Ann Coulter world is how much she is not hated and—dare one say it—even liked by many within the dreaded liberal elite. Well-credentialed members of the mainstream media privately extol her. Among her friends is the decidedly unconservative talk show host Bill Maher, on whose cable program she frequently appeared. “Unlike so many people in America, she was not afraid to get booed,” Mr. Maher once said of his pal. But at a quasi-debate with Maher, Coulter showed the limits of her affection. “Bill wants me to behave like a wife who laughs each time she hears her husband tell the same story,” she told her audience. (Predictably she did not oblige.) To the shock, awe, and dismay of many on the left, Coulter even has dated a number of liberal acolytes, including a one-time aide to Joe Biden and the former president of the New York City Council. There are even anecdotal cases of—brace yourselves—actual kindness.

I can attest to this unsettling phenomenon. Some years ago, a geeky political nerd from Michigan came to Capitol Hill with grandiose dreams and a debilitating shyness. Few among the great potentates and perennial climbers of the United States Senate had much time for the lugs at the bottom. But Ann did. Though a senior aide to a U.S. Senator, she took the time to get to know the rest of us, ask our opinions, share stories, and be a friend. Even then I knew that Coulter would not be long for the dreary rituals and bloviating self-absorption of Capitol Hill. Instead she became a media star.