Jon Sanders

Howard Dean wants Republican presidential candidates to apologize for Ann Coulter's insinuation that Edwards is a "faggot." Granted, it is popular among Democrats to have third parties apologize for someone else's actions, but in this case, "reparations for Coulter" shouldn't stop at GOP presidential wannabe's.

Conservatives at large should consider apologizing, too. There was wisdom in Edwards' reaction to Coulter's comment: "I think it's important that we not reward hateful, selfish, childish behavior with attention. I also believe that is important for all of us to speak out against language of this kind; it is the place where hatred gets its foothold, and we can't stand silently by and allow this kind of language to be used." (For the record, there's no truth to the rumor that Edwards has offered to hire Coulter as campaign blogger.)

As Aristotle observed ages ago, a satirical jest that lacks foundation in truth is false wit. And Coulter's crack was false wit. To paraphrase Billy Bob Thornton's character in Slingblade, Edwards is funny ha-ha, not funny queer.

So here's how such an apology could sound:

Dear Howard Dean,

I'm very sorry about the remarks made recently by Ann Coulter about John Edwards. She should not have resorted to an ugly slur in the first place. Furthermore, she certainly shouldn't have done so when there are plenty of other ways to discuss Edwards that are legitimate, devastating, and funny.

Sure, the man has a hair fixation and a deftness with a makeup compact that most red-blooded American men don't; however, those things make poor subjects for political discourse and should be left to the yuksters of late-night TV. Coulter and others should discuss the salient matters surrounding Edwards, which never cease to amuse. Such as:

He's a union lickspittle who just told college janitors protesting for higher pay that they're the next civil rights movement. That is grade-A hilarity right there.

His union-pandering has led him into numerous, risible moments involving Wal-Mart. Remember the time he promoted his book at the Manchester, N.H., Barnes & Noble instead of the Wal-Mart next door, because he says Wal-Mart doesn't pay employees enough? The Manchester Union Leader pointed out that at $7.50 an hour, the Wal-Mart paid employees more than the Barnes & Noble, which paid at $7 an hour. And guess who said that the minimum wage should be at $7.50 an hour (i.e., Wal-Mart wages)? John Edwards!

I don't care who you are, that's funny.

Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.