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Conservatives prefer blondes, especially when they shill for Trump

Top of the Ticket cartoon.
Top of the Ticket cartoon.
(David Horsey / Los Angeles Times)

Conservatives absolutely love to mock political correctness and namby-pamby, safe-space liberalism. But there is one line of offensive humor they may now consider beyond the pale: blonde jokes. Given the growing posse of blondes who have become prominent advocates for the conservative cause, right-wingers will look like hypocrites if they laugh at jokes that caricature blondes as dimwits.

The trend toward attractive, honey-haired women as voices of conservatism took hold when Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter began to gain notoriety as conservative commentators 15 years ago. In a field dominated by angry, loud, humorless men, Ingraham and Coulter were something very different. Coulter, in particular, brought a completely new image and style to the conservative pundit class. Not only did her youth, cascading blonde hair, long legs and short skirts set her apart from the rotund, red-faced bloviators like Rush Limbaugh, but she also broke with the tradition of lofty conservative intellectualism that stretched from William F. Buckley to George Will.

Smirks, sarcasm and wild exaggeration are the hallmarks of Coulter’s brand. One need look no further than the titles of her many books to understand her appeal to the now-dominant faction of conservatives who favor insult and attack over sober argument. There is her 2015 tome, “Adios, America!: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole.” Her 2011 book was “Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America.” And her 2007 title was “If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans.”

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Her brashness and intentional courting of controversy is a savvy branding technique that has brought her wealth and attention. And her attractiveness discombobulates even smartypants lefties like Bill Maher, who turns into a geeky kid with a crush on the cheerleader whenever Coulter is a guest on his HBO political show.

Coulter was an early champion of Donald Trump’s candidacy. His alpha male persona appealed to her and, even more, she appreciated that he was reading from her script — almost literally — when he railed against illegal immigrants from Mexico and branded many of them as rapists. She titled her 2016 book “In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome.” Nevertheless, she maintained a healthy distance from the Trump campaign and recently raised doubts that he will be nearly as harsh on immigrants as she wants him to be.

Such an expression of doubt would never cross the gloss-covered lips of Kayleigh McEnany and Scottie Nell Hughes. Those two blonde surrogates shilled for Trump during the campaign and continue to do so on CNN’s journalistically ludicrous evening gabfests. McEnany and Hughes never stray a centimeter from the talking points they are fed by the operatives at Trump Tower. Contorting language and thought with freakish agility, there is no limit to the preposterous ways they find to defend Trump’s every word and action. If they had worked for Henry VIII, they would have insisted lopping off his wives’ heads was a generous act to help them lose weight.

It is pretty obvious that McEnany and Hughes both aspire to be the next Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter. But are they clever enough to bring it off?

If McEnany could develop a sense of humor and learn how to deliver a talking point with a little subtlety, she might have a chance — unless she keeps whining about not being treated seriously because she’s a millennial. Here’s a clue, Kayleigh: it’s not your age that leads people to dismiss you as a lightweight.

Hughes is hopeless. In her latest knuckle-headed apologia for Trump, she asserted that the Donald’s tweets cannot be judged on whether they are true or not because, “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of (sic) facts.” Hughes has given herself over completely to Stephen Colbert’s satirical concept, “truthiness” — the idea that feelings, not facts, define what is true.

And then there is Tomi Lahren. The blonde, 24-year-old South Dakotan does conservative video commentaries for Glenn Beck’s Blaze TV in which she exhibits all the charm and insight of a really mean, exceedingly spoiled sorority girl. Lahren was on “The Daily Show” a few nights ago and host Trevor Noah gave her plenty of time to display her vacuousness. When Lahren proudly stated that, as a millennial, she doesn’t like to label herself, Noah calmly noted that she had just done exactly that.

It would be nice to live in a world where people were not granted credibility merely because of their appearance, but that does not happen to be our world. Vapid, pretty young women and men infest television news from small-town stations to the big networks. That is not such a huge problem if what they are doing is reading a weather report; we can always look out the window to see if they are giving us good information. But it is a problem when similarly unqualified people are given prominence as political commentators.

In the case of the conservative Barbies, their lovely blonde hair covers heads filled with very curious and ill-formed ideas. And that’s not just a blonde joke.

David.Horsey@latimes.com

Follow me at @davidhorsey on Twitter


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