I avoid watching television programs such as The Today Show for reasons well argued by Neil Postman. So I did not see, nor did I care to see, the snit between host Katie Couric and pundit Ann Coulter yesterday. You’ll recall that Coulter refers to Couric as an “affable Eva Braun” of liberalism in her new book “Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right.” The only reason I mention this sad little display of public nonsense is that it further highlights something I find interesting about Coulter’s name-calling: It is an excellent example of the power of emotional connotation.
What possible comparison is there between Eva Braun and Couric? I can think of only two. First, because of her association with Hitler, I think many people assume that she must have been a Nazi witch. So Braun is a periphrasis for shrewish, devious, evil women. Second, Braun apparently was indifferent to politics and spent much of her time alone at Berchtesgaden tending after her looks and yearning for more affection from Hitler. Hmmmm…interesting possibilities here. Is Coulter suggesting that Couric is simply a cute face who pretends to understand politics while merely searching for acceptance, even love, from her audience? No way. Too subtle. Coulter’s credentials and education demonstrate that she is capable of making the latter comparison, but her public displays of political flaming demonstrate the opposite.