Before the publication of her book “Mugged: Racial Demagoguery From the Seventies to Obama,” I was slated to interview Ann Coulter. The protocol was significantly more formal than that for even better-known celebrities. But I answered the oddly specific questions I was asked as I’d been rushed a copy of the book. I couldn’t shake a lingering feeling that something would go awry. It did.

After I sent the advance questions, Coulter went missing. I attempted to track her down and got an apology from a press agent, coupled with a message suggesting I try again. I didn’t. I knew Coulter wouldn’t answer anything I asked sincerely, and my tongue-in-cheek questions about race and crime may have approached the edge of acknowledging this a bit too obviously. Her act relies on the interviewer playing it straight. I wasn’t offended. Ann Coulter is a genius; she had bested me in advance.

Liberals know Ann Coulter as a vicious pundit with a propensity for saying the most hateful thing possible without being yanked off-air. Republicans know her as a fearless advocate for conservative values who eschews political correctness in her quest for truth. They’re both dead wrong.

Ann Coulter is a particularly unique brand of polemic performance artist, some would say satirist. Imagine Stephen Colbert with a profound mean streak who doesn’t let anyone in on the fact it’s a charade. Coulter has managed to do this by playing it relatively straight as a bona fide conservative commentator who bolsters the image with numerous best-selling books.

Most people aren’t aware that Coulter had a career as a journalistic voice and lawyer prior to her current incarnation. She helped found Cornell University’s student paper the Cornell Review, obtained a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, and practiced law in New York City. Her work as a litigator for the civil liberties organization Center for Individual Rights and assistance in crafting deportation legislation with Sen. Spencer Abraham may give an idea of her ideology.

Read it at Salon.