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.