Rick Perlstein is right about a few things and wrong about many others. He’s right that what unites conservatives is for the most part a common aversion to liberalism, but then he professes to see some contradictions in "conservatism," as if the same people worship, so to speak, at two mutually contradictory altars.
My account of this would begin a little differently: most people are at least somewhat confused, including many conservatives. Consistency, if it’s going to be found anywhere, will be found in the best and most thoughtful proponents of a position, who are (for the most part) aware that that among their practical political allies are perhaps many with whom they have substantial disagreements. They’re sober and prudent enough to recognize that at least some of those disagreements may have to be papered over in order to win elections. Of course, they don’t always judge short-term political victory as the only end, and may sacrifice it if the cost is too high. This is not confusion or self-contradiction; it’s how one acts prudently on the basis of principle in politics.
So yes, what unites (many) conservatives at the moment, is the prospect of a liberal victory in 2006 or 2008. That some (mostly social conservatives) wouldn’t want their daughters dressing or behaving like Ann Coulter isn’t surprising. That others cheer her on also isn’t surprising. I don’t even think it’s necessarily hypocritical or confused to take both stances (though I’m no fan of Coulter). Anyone who thinks that the shocking can’t be in the service of the conservative has never read (or understood) Aristophanes.
Perlstein’s last point--that conservatives revel in their marginalization despite their political successes--has something to it, but less that he thinks. If liberals didn’t so often feel and express their smug superiority, especially from the commanding heights of many of our culture-making and influencing institutions, conservatives wouldn’t have a beef and wouldn’t enjoy, when they do, tweaking liberals’ noses.