Her critics may dismiss Ann Coulter as a “kooky-con,” the craziest of conservatives. But there is nothing nutty about Coulter.

If the right-wing diva appears to be crazy, it is crazy like a fox.

The woman is diabolical. And she has a genius for the doing more damage than mere mortals could hope to inflict.

And her latest gambit is so sly that she has everyone talking — and just about everyone misreading her sly intent.

Few political realities are more certain than the fact that Coulter hates, hates, hates Hillary Clinton with a passion she and other conservatives will never be able to muster against the softly-bipartisan Barack Obama. Obama is probably more liberal than the former First Lady, and almost certainly more likely to win the presidency if the Democrats nominate him.

But Obama does not have the history with Coulter and the conservative echo chamber that the Clinton’s have. Bill Clinton outmaneuvered them even when the GOP took control of the House and Senate. And Hillary Clinton named their “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

The disdain is deep, sworn and eternal. Coulter calls Hillary Clinton “pond scum.”

But Coulter is making the rounds of right-wing talk-television shows to say she’d back Clinton as the Democratic nominee against Republican John McCain. “She’s more conservative that he is,” the author and commentator claims. “She will be stronger on the war on terrorism…I will campaign for her if it’s McCain.”

Of the woman she once accused of committing treason, Coulter now says, “Hillary’s gonna be our girl!”

Here’s the slanderer of all things Democratic and liberal from last night’s “Hannity & Colmes” gabfest on Fox:

ANN COULTER: Hillary is absolutely more conservative. Moreover she lies less than John McCain, she’s smarter than John McCain. When she’s caught shamelessly lying at least the Clinton’s know they’ve been caught lying. McCain is so stupid he doesn’t even know he’s been caught.

ALAN COLMES: Go! Could you fill in for me next week? Let me get this straight, would you vote for Hillary Clinton?


COLMES: You would actually go into a voting booth…

COULTER: If it’s close and the candidate is John McCain, because John McCain is not only bad for Republicanism –- which he definitely is -–he’s bad for the country.

COLMES: Can I tell you the last thing Hillary Clinton wants, is Ann Coulter’s endorsement.

Colmes is, of course, correct.

Coulter despises McCain because he is on the verge of winning the Republican nomination without the help of the paid partisans of the Republican right. She and Rush Limbaugh fear for their franchises.

She is a sly woman this Ann Coulter. And she is not entirely insincere. While she may not really believe that Clinton is more conservative than McCain, she undoubtedly would rather have Clinton as president. That’s because Clinton presidency would be a full-employment program for the right-wing attack machine for which she is Cog No. 1. And a McCain presidency, by defining a different and more responsible conservatism, could marginalize Coulter and her kind.

So anything Coulter can say to hurt McCain, she will say. And to suggest that the right’s favorite demon, Hillary Clinton, is more credibly conservative than the maverick McCain hurts the senator from Arizona with the Republican base that is only now beginning to warm to him.

But the diabolical part of Coulter’s strategy is this: In attacking McCain and endorsing Clinton, the right-wing heroine that the left loves to hate hurts both the Republican she fears and the Democrat she despises.