The question, "Are you an Ann Coulter Republican?" should confront every Republican running for every office in the land, from President to dog catcher. Every Democratic candidate should accuse his or her opponent of being in favor of poisoning Supreme Court Justices and killing Congressmen. At every opportunity, every Republican should be made to answer: "Do you agree with Ann Coulter that the 9/11 widows are witches and harpies?" And George W. Bush, Tony Snow, Dick Cheney, Laura Bush and Barney (the only lapdog with a good excuse) should be confronted with these questions as well.
Republicans have been able to maintain a Kabuki symbiosis with all manner of cave-dwellers by speaking in an elaborate, dog whistle-like code. They hold racists, homophobes and rapture acolytes close enough to keep their votes without ever having to either publicly embrace or disavow such extreme viewpoints. That relationship with white-sheet America has been essential to their electoral strategy for decades.
But Ann Coulter has furnished us with a turn-key solution. We can now easily put them in the logical fork they should have been forced into years ago: disavow Coulter's vile, sub-human ravings, or embrace them. If they distance themselves from her, they risk alienating the mouth-breathers who demand such red meat as the price of their loyalty. If they embrace her, they lose significant swaths of the middle - the decent folks who are the reason Republicans talk about Dred Scott and "state's rights" rather than criminalizing abortion and gutting civil rights laws.
The piece stirred up a bit of controversy, and a record number of comments (407 at last count, though most of those are actually an utterly pointless flame war). Surprisingly, Coulter seemed to crawl back into her cave for a while afterwards, though I highly doubt there is a cause and effect relationship.
But the strategy is relevant again, because Little Offend Annie was featured at the 34th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) today, and she is at it again:
"What's Al Gore up to these days?" Coulter rhetorically asked, before answering, "Four hundred pounds."
Coulter asked, "Did Al Gore actually swallow Michael Moore?"
"Obama is half-white and half-black," Coulter said, before comparing the Illinois senator to former President Bill Clinton. "Clinton was half-white, half-trash."
Before concluding her speech in order to take questions from audience members, Coulter took a final shot at Edwards.
"I was going to have a few comments about John Edwards but you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,'" Coulter said.
Hello, Mr. Edwards? Think you can take a break from milquetoasting your bloggers to grab some obvious points, and wound the whole Republican roster?
Coulter's outburst at a major conservative confab makes the strategy a no-brainer. And most of the potential problems for Republicans that I pointed out last June are still dead-on today:
Which chess piece will Republicans sacrifice? I suspect it will vary. New York Governor George Pataki is one of the few Republicans to come out against Coulter, but that's a freebee - 9/11 happened in his state, and he appears to have no higher ambitions. Deep southerners in local races will probably embrace her. But what will John McCain do? I don't see how he can answer that question and still become President. Rudy Giuliani? He has already shown he'd rather run into a burning building. Bill Frist would prefer to declare himself to be in a persistent vegetative state. The list of high-profile Republicans desperate not to confront the Coulter question is very long.
This one is a mulligan, folks, and they don't come along every day.