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.
Even better, remember the day the Sony PlayStation 3 was released? When an unpaid volunteer for John Edwards called the Raleigh N.C., Wal-Mart to try to get a PlayStation 3 for him -- cutting in front of all those people waiting in line in the process? And when Wal-Mart called him on it, the company's press release included the comment that "While we cannot guarantee that Sen. Edwards will be among one of the first to obtain a PlayStation3, we are certain Sen. Edwards will be able to find great gifts for everyone on his Christmas list – many at Wal-Mart's 'roll-back prices'"?
You'd have to watch a "Three Stooges" clip to see more pies in the face than that.
How about his press conference in front of a house in New Orleans, where he put in a brand-new, never-before-used spade into the ground long enough to announce for president? What a picture of Democrat charity! Churches all over the United States are sending people to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to do the actual work of rebuilding the devastated areas, and this guy makes a show of doing work while promising he'll do more, but only if you first make him president – and then he'll take your money to do it!
That's yet another rip-snorter.
Or what about the practical joke he pulled on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill? Shortly after losing in 2004, he agreed to head a new center to "study" poverty, promised "innovative and practical ideas" about solving the problem, and did nothing for two years but campaign across the country and talk about increasing the minimum wage.
Rumor from Chapel Hill has it that university officials, tired of hearing it from everyone else, are still waiting for Ashton Kutcher to tell them they've been "Punk'd."
Oh, and what about all his talk about the "two Americas" and taking care of the environment — all the while clear-cutting land for his gigantic "duplex" (one half housing his very own basketball court, swimming pool, and squash court)? According to Don Carrington of Carolina Journal, at 1,762 square feet by itself, "John's lounge" could house nine and a half UNC "poverty centers" (after all, just one of those campaign-life-support sweetheart deals takes up only 185 square feet).
After his giggling fit subsided, even Al "Carbon Footprint" Gore would be jealous of that much personal hypocrisy.
In short, Coulter's remark was ugly, gratuitous, and worthless. She could have leveled far more substantial -- and entertaining -- hits on John Edwards than what she said. For that we offer our sincere apologies and hopes for greater political discourse.