Robert Stacy McCain and Victor Morton report the Ann Coulter "faggotgate" story to a bloody pulp over at the WashTimes.
Last night, however, Miss Coulter said that she did not use the word to demean homosexuals, nor to suggest that Mr. Edwards—a 53-year-old married father of four—is homosexual.
Describing her remark as "a schoolyard taunt," she said on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" program that she meant to describe Mr. Edwards as "lame" and a "sissy."
"In that way, it is a sophomoric word, not a bad word," said Miss Coulter, longtime legal-affairs correspondent for the conservative weekly Human Events.
Criticism of Miss Coulter was most fierce from Internet activists, including a group of conservative bloggers who attended the conference. In an open letter posted on their sites, they urged CPAC's sponsors to stop inviting Miss Coulter to the event and declared that "the Age of Ann has passed." The signatories included Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters, Ace of Spades, and Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.
It was a busy weekend, and I might have missed the news, but: Who died and appointed these guys the bouncers of the conservative movement? Coulter's the most influential, impactful pundit on the right; some students forked over the money to CPAC simply so they could see her. It makes no sense for CPAC's sponsors to shun Coulter, if they're concerned at all about their bottom line, which is what they should be concerned with.
Of course, this is a shell game. The knock on Coulter is that she says offensive, hateful things about liberals (and libertarians) and makes some conservatives flinch. Sorry; she makes many more of them weak-kneed with giggles. Is that going to stop because a small number of bloggers demand she lose one of her many yearly speaking gigs to conservatives? Nope. Coulter's success is a symptom of the right's decline, not a cause.
What was Coulter's joke? "It wasn't offensive to gays, it has nothing to do with gays. It's a schoolyard taunt meaning 'wuss.'" Why does this cut so deep with the pro-war right? Because the feminization and mockery of Democrats has become so vital to the last few Republican campaigns, and to pro-war arguments outside of political campaigns. What's the substantive difference between Coulter calling Edwards a wuss and calling him the "Breck Girl." What separates that from the Bush campaign calling John Kerry "French-looking" or Bob Tyrrell calling him "Jean-Francois Kerry"? Let me put on my Democrat-shilling ring of power and quote Paul Waldman:
The argument that your opponent is weak and effeminate can be particularly effective with male voters. After all, what the Republicans are telling them is, "Hey, buddy—you don't want vote for that guy, do you? He's a little light in the loafers, if you know what I mean. What are people going to think about YOU?"
The idea that Democrats are wimps, pussies, pick your poison, isn't a creation of the Reagan era or Fox News; remember President Merkin Muffley trembling and blubbering as the military-industrial complex pushes him around? It's a problem when the argument's broadened to include anyone who's anti-Iraq war, or anti-war generally. We must be wimps (or anti-Semites) if we want to leave Iraq or "back down" from Iran. You need to "talk tough" and shut up about engaging our current crop of enemies if you want to be taken seriously. The censure-Coulter folks would be a lot more impressive if they signed some concord (can the Euston guys lease them a room?) ending those kinds of arguments.*
*This is sarcasm. I don't want anyone signing agreements to stop making political arguments, obviously.
UPDATE: Someone in the comments wonders whether Coulter is "the most influential, impactful pundit on the right." If you broaden the term "pundit" to include radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, you can argue about that. But I'm happy to hear about the other bestselling author and columnist who has been profiled on the cover of Time magazine, can draw thousands of people to a speech, can make ratings spike when she/he appears on TV, has inspired a talking doll, and causes national sensations when she/he makes a controversial statement every few months.