Here and here, Andrew Sullivan thinks he sees Ms. Coulter "wither and flinch" and "melt". Not so. The discomfort is palpable only in the context of the coolly calculating M.s. Coulter, and she does a workman's job of running out the clock by shamelessly repeating the sound bites that she knows will go down well with her constituency. And you know that she will go back to her turf and tell her fans that she went into the lion's lair (never mind Chris Matthews' bipartisan bark and bite) and faced those hypocrites down, and she knows that they will applaud. Mission accomplished. BIll Kristol repeating on The Daily Show is similar. It's all media jujitsu.
To be fair, you only have to remember the third-tier liberal academics who used to appear on The O'Reilly Show (do they still do that?) for their fifteen minutes of fame in exchange for being for being eaten alive like the Christians in the Forum to know that this phenomenon is not limited to the right.
Even the most serious of politics is spectacle. And those who entertain are rewarded, always handsomely, sometimes disproportionately. (Remember comedian Yukio Aoshima, the comedian and writer winning the Tokyo governorship without campaigning?) I have wondered for at least a couple of years how this can benefit us in the evolutionary sense. Perhaps we have not yet had the time to evolve from the prototypical humanoid who usually spent his/her whole life in a small roaming band of people who come into close contact with each other very day and thus did not have to worry about being fooled by people whose intimacy exists only in our imagination.