THE RIGHT’S PROBLEM IN A NUTSHELL…. The other day, my friend Ron Chusid had an item arguing that Ann Coulter’s piece on Sarah Palin was clear evidence of “the wrong direction the conservative movement is moving in” and the dominance of “anti-intellectualism” on the right.

I finally read Coulter’s piece, and I have to admit, it’s even more inane than I expected. Coulter, heralded Palin’s selection as “Conservative of the Year” and applauded the Alaska governor’s role in politics. To hear Coulter tell it, Palin is a hero because she sent “the left into a tailspin of wanton despair.”

Who cares if Palin was qualified to be President? She was running with John McCain! There was no chance that ticket was going to place her anywhere near the presidency. In fact, I can’t think of a better place to put someone you wanted to keep away from the White House than on a ticket with McCain.

Palin was a kick in the pants, she energized conservatives, and she made liberal heads explode.

Got that? Palin is necessarily wonderful because liberals didn’t like her. (That plenty of independents and Republicans found the thought of her vice presidency horrifying is irrelevant.)

Now, I realize that Coulter is a circus clown, and quite possibly a liberal plant meant to make conservatives look ridiculous as part of some kind of satirical performance art, but over the course of nearly 2,000 words, Coulter couldn’t actually point to any of Palin’s genuine strengths. Coulter blasted the media, Democrats, women she finds insufficiently attractive, and John McCain, but in applauding the greatness of Sarah Palin, she neglected to mention anything that makes Sarah Palin great, outside of Coulter’s disdain for Palin’s detractors.

Ezra noted that Coulter’s bizarre missive will one day offer historians evidence of “the death of America’s conservative majority.”

Palin is the year’s most important conservative not because she won, or because she came close, but because she provoked the most outrage among liberals. And Coulter’s column presents all of this as triumph. There’s no sorrow over Palin’s loss. Rather, the column is suffused with glee for the lark of it all. Remember that time Palin made that joke about lipstick?

This is not the metric of anything so fearsome as a bully. It’s the measure of a mere pest. And the hard question for conservatives is, what if Coulter is right? What if Palin really is the leader of modern conservatism, the best representative of its modern mission? “Palin was a kick in the pants,” Coulter says. And right now, that’s enough.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.