CPAC’s Coulterkampf

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When it was revealed last week that Ann Coulter had not been invited to speak at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, it seemed, at first glance, like a principled move, a decisive refutation of the nasty, degrading speech that is Coulter’s trademark. At CPAC 2007 Coulter famously used the word “faggot” in reference to John Edwards.

But at least one of the 6,000 conservatives expected to attend the D. C. conference isn’t buying it. “It’s all a fraud,” the conservative activist and longtime Coulter critic Daniel Borchers told me yesterday. “I think the entire thing shows a lack of character and integrity within the leadership of CPAC.” Borchers, who founded the Christian conservative newsletter BrotherWatch, is angry not only that Coulter will be attending CPAC this year, but also that, despite no official invitation from CPAC organizers, she will be delivering a speech during the conference—and that speech will be given in the same hotel ballroom as several CPAC events and is being put on by five organizations who are also cosponsors of CPAC.

In other words, Ann Coulter is speaking at CPAC this year.

Her speech, which is being sponsored by, among others, Young America’s Foundation and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. this Friday; later that evening, Coulter will attend a reception and host a book signing, both of which appear on the conference agenda.

“Within CPAC itself and within the American Conservative Union, which has the final say about everything at CPAC, there’s a split between those who favor her and those who oppose her,” says Borchers, who has been following this story for months. “What they have done in essence is to organize every other event at CPAC around her event.”

So is CPAC trying to have it both ways? No, said ACU president David Keene in a phone interview Tuesday. He also refuted Borcher’s claim that CPAC organized around Coulter’s speech. Keene said individual groups like Young America’s Foundation could rent rooms and invite whomever they like to speak during CPAC.

And why didn’t the conference offer Coulter an official speaking invitation, as in past years? “We just decided that, given the agenda and all that we had going on this year, there was not a reason to invite her.” Asked if the decision was related to the uproar Coulter’s remarks caused last year, Keene demurred. “The cosponsoring groups decided she was not high on their list,” Keene said. “She wasn’t suggested this year. That doesn’t mean she won’t be invited again next year.”

That is, if they still want her.

This post has been updated to reflect a change in the time of Coulter’s speech.

—Justin Elliott

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