Thursday, June 28, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards vs Coulter: 'Mother' Imagery at Play

Did you see the video of Elizabeth Edwards calling into the Chris Matthews show on Tuesday to politely ask the smarmy Ann Coulter to stop her personal attacks on her husband and the other Democratic candidates? It's a pivotal confrontation which brings to a crux different notions of womanhood--of what it means to be a strong woman today, and brings into play references of motherhood that are at issue in this political climate. (See this article with its picture of Pelosi surrounded by children at her swearing-in.)

Coulter first started to deny that she ever made personal attacks on Edwards. Then Mrs. Edwards mentioned her saying three years ago that Edwards had a bumper sticker on the back of his car, "Ask me about my dead son." An audience member yelled, "Why isn't Edwards himself making this phone call," and Ann repeated his thought. The key moment: Elizabeth said, "I'm making this call as a mother. I'm the mother of the boy who died. Those young children behind you are the age of my children."

I think her reference to being a mother is symbolic, and purposeful. It plays to the difference between these two women, the single, vixen-like Ann Coulter, who continually, in this clip, ran her fingers through her flat blonde hair, as if she couldn't stop touching it, and wore big black sunglasses, and the maternal Elizabeth, who is now suffering from breast cancer, who is mother to three children, and whose son died.

Women, mothers, in particular, are a key block of voters that both sides are trying to court, to win to their side (as if we all think alike). Surely Elizabeth made the call because she is trying to "highlight the maternal" side of her husband, to highlight the human side of John Edwards as opposed to the unfeeling, nonmaternal, cold Republicans as represented here by Coulter.

A side note, one can't help but wonder what the annoying girl-tween right behind Coulter, who is so fawning, so eager to laugh with ridicule at Elizabeth Edwards along with Coulter, is thinking.

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