WASHINGTON, D.C.— There must be some kind of perfect rallying cry for a giant ballroom full of conservative Americans, but it'll take a careful formula and a lot of practice to find it.
It requires, I think, some balance of celebrating American Exceptionalism (a phrase I've heard so many times in a day and a half here, it's already lost any meaning it could have had to begin with) and some balance of invoking Ronald Reagan, who on this turf is known as The Greatest Human To Have Ever Breathed On Earth.
But there is also a very straightforward route, and it's one that Ann Coulter, who took the stage in a black mini skirt and calf-high boots at CPAC this afternoon, is very, very good at: Troll on the liberals, and go for the cheap laughs.
At the seemingly interminable conservative dating panel yesterday, a young man asked the speaker, a professional dating coach named Wayne Elise, why right-wingers had such a difficult time with humor: "How can we find a legitimately funny conservative person?" he wondered.
"Conservatives get defensive about their beliefs, and it's hard to be funny when you're feeling defensive," Elise told him. "They're very wrapped up in their own ego."
Among conservatives, though, Coulter is known as a funny person. She bypasses any defense mechanism and goes straight to the attack, and it is incredibly effective. It helps that she also happens to have a hell of an ego.
"Greetings one-percenters, and welcome to Occupy Marriott," Coulter told a capacity crowd today. "Did you know that Michael Moore is only one person and yet controls 33 percent of the world's cholesterol?"
They roared, as hundreds of Occupy protesters faced off with D.C. police outside.
Coulter continued for a while, hawking her various books—her next published work, she joked, will be called Nancy Pelosi Moves to Luxembourg—and somehow even got in a dig about Jerry Sandusky. When the giant red clock on the screen opposite the podium neared 0:00, she took questions from the crowd.
The first came from a nervous and clearly impressed female college student. She wanted to know "how you can be a woman and a conservative at the same time."
This, of course, is some of Coulter's favorite territory. She had started by talking about the "demonic" liberal moms and their slogans: "If you think about it for 30 seconds, they mean nothing. Kind of like an Obama speech." So she settled in for this one.
"I think all real females are right-wingers," Coulter said, as the crowd clapped in agreement. "And I can tell you that based on experience—and my bodyguard will back me up on this—all pretty girls are right-wingers.
"A pretty girl is walking toward your table, you know she's a fan."
She continued by discussing the "feminist movement that has set us back." She acknowledged that she doesn't write about the topic often, because the analysis was so "manifestly obvious it doesn't need my stunning skills.
"The reason liberal women are liberal is because they have to date liberal men. As we've seen—from Bill Clinton and Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Anthony Weiner—we see how liberal men treat women."
She added, "If I were stuck with them, I'd be angry too. And I'll take 69 cents on the dollar, or whatever the current feminist myth is about how much we make, just to never have to pay for dinner. That seems like a fair deal to me."
The ladies howled and pumped their fists in the air. She took a few more questions and then left the stage to a standing ovation. I tried to catch her behind the stage for a question, but she was nowhere to be seen. I just wanted to ask a real female for some real makeup tips.
[Image via the AP]