Slick Dancing Mitt's troupe of Coulter-defending dancers

I'll give Evangelicals for Mitt's Charles Mitchell credit, he's proven himself to be one of the few on the other side to not respond to criticism by using language most commonly heard uttered by Vice President Cheney on the Senate floor. Responding, I'm guessing, to criticism from myself and others about his equating Howard Dean with Ann Coulter - "Here's the problem for Chairman Dean, though: His rhetoric (claiming the remark was "hate-filled and bigoted") is no less overblown than Coulter's. What she said was not hate-filled; it was just unnecessary and way over the line." - Mitchell has updated his original post to "revise and extend" his original comments. In short, he's sticking by what he said. So allow me then, Charles, to reply.

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Coulter? Never Heard of Her.

This morning comes word that every Republican east and west of the Mississipi is appalled -- appalled! -- that Ann Coulter would stoop to slurring a Democratic presidential candidate. As it turns out, none of them had ever heard Ms. Coulter open her mouth before. This explains how they were blissfully unaware of such Coulterian wit and wisdom as 2005's "[Bill Clinton] was a very good rapist," 2004's description of one of the tenets of Islam as "'kill everyone who doesn't smell bad," 2002's "my only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building," and from the highly productive year of 2001: "we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity" and "the presumption of innocence only means you don't go right to jail." On, and also from that year, her take on the legacy of school desegregation: "illiterate students knifing one another between acts of sodomy in the stairwell."

So on and so forth.

Being a provocative, cutting, political comic is one thing. Being an nondoctrinaire political thinker another. Both are things Ann Coulter is not. She's a bully, has been for years, and is egged-on in her bullydom because her shtick appeals to a certain element in American conservatism. It's what made her one of the stars of CPAC. So all these apologies and condemnations? A bit empty.

After the jump, the blast from the past -- the horrible, incredibly offensive words from Whoopi Goldberg in 2004 that outraged the White House and got her dropped as a SlimFast spokesperson:

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Pro-Romney site equates Howard Dean with Ann Coulter

Yesterday, you'll remember, Ann Coulter, speaking about John Edwards, said the following vile, hateful words: "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I - so kind of an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards." In a well-crafted response, Howard Dean said, "There is no place in political discourse for this kind of hate-filled and bigoted comments. While Democrats and Republicans may disagree on the issues, we should all be able to agree that this kind of vile rhetoric is out of bounds. The American people want a serious, thoughtful debate of the issues. Republicans - including the Republican presidential candidates who shared the podium with Ann Coulter today - should denounce her hateful remarks."

So, to recap, one the one hand you've got a disgusting statement by someone - Coulter - with a track record of similar statements. And, on the other, the measured response of an individual - Dean - simply asking those GOP presidential hopefuls speaking at the same conference as Coulter to, in his words, denounce her hateful remarks. One problem, one I anticipated when I called on conscienceless conservative Nancy French - of, among other things, the Web site Evangelicals for Mitt - to say, without a shred of hesitation, that there is no place in the political world for comments like Coulter's, whose appearance after Romney's at CPAC, said Romney, was "a good thing". And that problem is this: Someone at Evangelicals for Mitt doesn't think what Coulter said was wrong.

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Not Enough from Romney, Giuliani

Adam Nagourney reports.

Democrats were not the only denouncing Ms. Coulter. "The comments were wildly inappropriate," said Brian Jones, a spokesman for Senator John McCain, a Republican candidate for president who did not attend.

Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said: "It was an offensive remark. Governor Romney believes all people should be treated with dignity and respect.

This is nonsense.  Romney was just praising Coulter effusively at CPAC, and he hasn't taken back his praise.  All he did was argue that her words in that particular instant were offensive.  This is a non-apology.  This is what Romney said right before Coulter called Edwards a 'faggot':

"I am happy to hear that after you hear from me, you will hear from Ann Coulter. That is a good thing. Oh yeah!"

If Romney, or Giuliani, or any other major Republican were really doing anything but basking in the hatred and bigotry in the conservative leadership, they would pledge not to attend any more events where Coulter is speaking.  Coulter is a big draw and wildly popular among right-wingers; denouncing her more extreme comments is a popular sport among Republicans, because it allows them to both hold mainstream appeal while basking in the overt racism and bigotry that she often displays.

Romney and Giuliani need to move beyond this, or they need to own it.  And so far, it sounds to me like Romney still thinks that hearing from Coulter is a 'good thing'.  I wonder if any reporter will actually find out if he still thinks that.

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Ann Coulter Is Their Problem

It makes a whole lot of sense that Mitt Romney would sing the praises of Ann Coulter. Romney is clearly wants to prove he's credible to a certain strain of conservativism in which Coulter is something of a rock star. She's the entertainment at CPAC -- an event that a conservative DC media guy would call the 'Republicans YearlyKos' -- for a reason. There may be an effort in some circles to paint Coulter as some sort of outlier, but in actual fact she's a node on a network that forms the backbone of American conservativism. I just whipped this up, but consider how at all starts to fit together.

Coulter's first book, High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton, was published by Regnery, a D.C. based conservative publishing house. Top Regnery authors include Michelle Malkin, former RNC chair Haley Barbour, and Newt Gingrich. Eagle Publishing is Regnery's parent company. Eagle also owns Human Events, a conservative newspaper that's been kicking around in 1944. It was reportedly Ronald Reagan's favorite read. Of Human Events top selling points is that it's "the periodical in which the peerless Ann Coulter, author of the smash bestseller, Godless, drives multicultural defeatists up the wall." As of two months ago, Eagle also now owns RedState, a website created in in sort of the reverse image of Daily Kos. Eagle Publishing and its various properties share other talent. Erick Erickson, for example, is both the CEO of RedState and a featured writer for Human Events. Ben Domenech helped to run RedState and was also an editor at Regnery.

Then there's Coulter's weekly column, which runs on Townhall.com. Townhall.com was launched by the Heritage Foundation, which is, of course, conservatism's most prominent and respected think tank. So on and so forth. This is tip of the iceberg stuff, as anyone who has studied the conservative web knows.

Ann Coulter may well now be a rogue elephant -- you know, the ones who are shunned for their anti-social behavior and eventually lose their minds? But she comes, no doubt, from this conservative herd.

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