Well, there's this.
A few thoughts follow:
1. Sometimes it seems that the first rule of politics is: never admit you or your allies are wrong. And the first corollary of that rule is: EVER. So I'm always happy to see someone actually admit error on his own side. Props to Sean Hackbarth for that.
But, um, on the other hand:
2. The letter's a little heavy on the prudential reasons and lighter than one might hope on the moral ones. Yes, Coulter might hurt conservatives, but is that really the point? It's more significant that she's a bigot, and that good people don't associate with bigots, much less adore them or make them their spokesmodels. The appeals to prudence in Hackbarth's letter make one wonder to what extent any conservative blowback against Coulter is a result of genuine moral outrage, and to what extent it's a strategic move.
2'. In defense of Hackbarth, however, such appeals to prudential considerations have become almost second nature at a time when there's some kind of weird, inarticulate, background moral skepticism in the zeitgeist. Just pointing out that something is wrong and giving moral reasons has, strangely, come to be regarded as insufficient. Furthermore, conservatives are, in general, more inclined to ask what's in it for me? than are liberals, and the letter is, after all, aimed at conservatives. So it's possible that moral concerns are the motive here, and prudential considerations are just being offered to help persuade the morally dim-witted. So we might want to cut them some slack here.
3. So, let me get this straight: 'raghead' wasn't enough, then?
4. I quote:
"Ann Coulter used to serve the movement well. She was telegenic, intelligent, and witty. She was also fearless: saying provocative things to inspire deeper thought and cutting through the haze of competing information has its uses. But Coulter’s fearlessness has become an addiction to shock value. She draws attention to herself, rather than placing the spotlight on conservative ideas."
Um... Where to begin? Ann Coulter is not particularly intelligent by any standard of intelligence I'm aware of. She's minimally articulate, but minimal articulateness is non-identical with intelligence. Spend a little time in academia--where a significant minority of people are articulate but not much brighter than average--if you're somehow unaware of this fact. Or consider Bush '43, who's probably a guy of about average intelligence, just inarticulate. (His problem is that he's incurious and intellectually dishonest--but he's got no less intellectual firepower per se than your average Joe, so far as I can tell.)
And she isn't fearless, she's vicious. And, quite possibly, unstable. Like so many other conservative celebrities, she's able to produce stream-of-consciousnes invective against liberals, but she can't tolerate being challenged. (Think, for example, of her melt-down on Crossfire when that notorious liberal Tucker Carlson tossed her the softest of softball questions about one of those "books" of hers.) Note to conservatives: viciousness isn't courage.
And anyone who thinks that Coulter "inspire[s] deeper thought," or that that's even what she aims at, is simply deluded. My guess is that Hackbarth is just saying that to help get conservatives to listen up; and I can live with that.
And as for "telegenic"--egad, man, you may need to get out of the house more.
5. As for the bit about how 'raghead' and 'faggot' "may be tolerated on liberal websites but not at the nation’s premier conservative gathering"... Well, I can only respond to that with my sincerest possible huh?
O.k., so that's it. I'm not sure it's a good idea to harsh on Hackbarth given that what he's trying to do here is mostly good, but I find it annoying when people can't even criticize the most outlandish excesses of their own side without throwing elbows at the other guys. So although I'm inclined to go on about how, for example, basically everybody and his brother has known and said (for more-or-less ever) that words mean things, to attribute this fairly pedestrian thought to Rush Limbaugh, as if it were some discovery of his, is fairly laughable. But I won't.
Coulter is an idiot, a nut, and a bigot, and she's at least borderline unstable. It says quite a bit about contemporary American conservatism that she has become one of their celebrities. It also says a lot that whether or not they should dump her is controversial. But in the constellation of conservative quasi-intellectuals (motto: I'm not really an intellectual, but I play one on t.v....or at least on A.M. radio."), Coulter is not even close to being the worst offender. Whereas many on the right are fond of calling anyone they disagree with traitors, they're the only ones with actual traitors in their pseudo-intellectual celebrity pantheon. Coulter may be a nut, but compared to G. Gordon Liddy and Ollie North, she's practically a patriot...and practically sane.
Which, of course, doesn't mean that anyone who takes her seriously isn't an idiot.