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Elizabeth Edwards Shames Ann Coulter

Yesterday, Ann Coulter was outgunned and outclassed on Chris Matthews’ Hardball.   Before a live audience, Elizabeth Edwards (wife of presidential candidate John), called into the show and hammered the poison-pundit on her hate rhetoric.  A surprised Coulter - predictably outfitted in her stale trademark short, black cocktail dress (does she have dozens hanging in her closet?) - looked like a cornered animal.  She ran a hand nervously through her long blond hair and crossed and re-crossed her bare legs.  

Edwards pleaded with Coulter to "stop the personal attacks" a day after Coulter said on Good Morning America that she wished Edwards had been "killed in a terrorist assassination plot."  Coulter’s debate technique is to simply trample her opponents with interruptions.  She tried to override Edwards with a stream of invective and, astonishingly, even denied making the GMA and other remarks. 

"I didn’t say anything about him either time." said Coulter in a panic.  Matthews admonished her to let Edwards speak.

Edwards, clearly stinging from Coulter’s toxic remarks about their deceased son, shredded Coulter. 

"These attacks lower our political dialog precisely at the time we need to raise it…. in a column a number of years ago, you made fun of Charlie Deans’ death and suggested that my husband had a bumper sicker on the back of his car that said ‘ask me about my dead son,’" said Elizabeth. "It debases political dialog.  It drives people away from the process.  We can’t have a debate on the issues if you’re using this kind of language."

"Yeah, why isn’t John making this call?" sniped Coulter, desperate to change the subject.

"I’m making a call as a mother, " Elizabeth shot back, "I’m the mother of that boy who died.  These young people behind you are the age of my children.   You’re asking them to participate in a dialog that’s based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues,  and I don’t think that’s serving them or this country very well."

And the crowd burst into applause.

Unfortunately, the media rewards Coulter for her culture poisoning, trotting her out and parading her around like a circus act.  Cable news can help raise the level of discourse in this country.  They should stop giving Coulter a hate platform from which to launch her venom.  In the race for short term ratings bursts, the media keeps rewarding Coulter’s behavior with more air time and, like the child she is, she responds just like a two-year old by throwing even more tantrums.  But the damage done and the divisions created in this country are incalculable.

Chris Matthews did the right thing, however, when he ambushed Coulter with what appeared to be a surprise phone call.  It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.

On tonight’s Hardball, at 5 and 7 p.m. ET, John Edwards will weigh in on the controversy in an exclusive interview.