Swords of Delaware
posted at 1:06 am on September 14, 2010 by Doctor Zero
You couldn’t ask for a more vexing political conundrum than the Delaware Senate primary. It’s like something a poli-sci professor dreamed up to torture his students. Mike Castle is the kind of liberal seat-warmer that should be trimmed from a Republican Party getting into fighting shape for the battle of its life, against a dying super-State that will be immensely difficult to bring under control… but he’s got a far better shot at winning the general election than his more conservative primary opponent. The Democrat, Chris Coons, is loony and Marxist enough to qualify for a position as one of Obama’s czars. As bad as Castle might be, it’s not difficult to make the case that putting Coons in the seat would be far worse. However, while putting that case together, bear in mind that Castle co-founded a group with George Soros.
Castle’s conservative primary challenger, Christine O’Donnell, received the coveted Sarah Palin endorsement recently, but current polling shows her losing to Coons by double digits. This polling is consistent with the overall mood of Delaware voters, who appear ready to be part of the GOP wave in November, but don’t want to ride the crest on the edge of a surfboard. As Palin points out, O’Donnell has the right stances on a number of critical issues, but that won’t make much of a difference if she can’t get elected. She’s got some bizarre behavior in her past, and no significant legislative experience.
As the poli-sci class is wrestling with the situation, the professor smiles wickedly and drops the final bomb: control of the Senate might just hinge on the outcome of this race.
It’s a tough call… but many pundits seem unwilling to acknowledge that. Some, like Michelle Malkin arguing for O’Donnell or Baseball Crank laying out the case for Castle, are commendably willing to concede the difficulty of puzzling out the race, before offering their most carefully reasoned opinions. Many others act as if the correct choice is obvious, and disagreement is either stupidity or treason. People are drumming each other out of the conservative movement, pointing at formerly solid allies and doing the Invasion of the Body Snatchers howl. Promotion to the “ruling class” has become so easy that I’m thinking of endorsing Castle just so I can join the aristocracy. I’ll settle for a barony. I’m a cheap date.
The outcome of tomorrow night’s primary is not the only reason so many swords are being drawn over Delaware. There are deeper issues reflected in both of these elaborately damaged candidates. Supporters of O’Donnell fear the prominence “reasonable, moderate” Republicans like Castle would gain through the media, after the GOP takes control of Congress. The ghost of Jim Jeffords rides through their backyards each Halloween, tossing its severed head between its hands. Cleansing the party of people like Castle isn’t just a mindless obsession with purity. It’s part of presenting a coherent message to voters, and offering a real contrast with the bankrupt lunacy of the Democrats. It will be tough for the party to deliver a rousing St. Crispin’s Day speech to voters while the media’s new favorite Republican capers in the background, waving his Strange New Respect award and calling them extremists.
Castle supporters, on the other hand, are tired of losing on principle. They understand every race presents a different battlefield. Joe Miller is a mighty oak in Alaska, but he would wither and die in the thin soil of Delaware. Furthermore, Christine O’Donnell is no Joe Miller. The argument for stubbornly throwing races to the Democrats, until the country grows utterly sick of them and seeks rescue from conservative knights in shining armor, is drowned by the deafening crack of America’s back breaking under Obama levels of debt. The cost of losing our way to victory is more than the nation can bear.
I don’t find either of these viewpoints dishonest or foolish. Intelligent arguments have been made for both. I also understand why so many people are getting worked up over this conflict. Every shift in balance is alarming when you’re perched on the edge of a cliff. To overcome the massive inertia of the system that produced Barack Obama as our national undertaker, we’ve got to play a perfect game for the next couple of years. There is little margin for error available to individual candidates, the Republican Party, or the conservative movement. People start screaming when they’re watching you defuse the deficit bomb, and they think you’re about to cut the wrong wire.
I’m not from Delaware, so I have no vote to cast tomorrow night. If I did, I would find myself reluctantly persuaded by the argument for Castle. It’s a pity O’Donnell isn’t a better candidate, and Delaware isn’t an easier state to win over. Good Republican leadership in the Senate should be able to keep Castle on board for the really important votes, and he might just be the leverage that puts the Senate into their hands. The damage being done to the country by Obama is so horrific that I can’t consign us to another two years, if the chance exists for a fully Republican Congress to slam on the brakes… even if leaving a divided Senate under nominal Democrat control until 2012 might be tactically preferable for the next Presidential campaign.
Having said that, I disagree with Charles Krauthammer that Palin and Jim DeMint’s endorsement of O’Donnell is “destructive” or “irresponsible.” They’re big-picture idea people. Their honest endorsement of a candidate who vocally supports their ideas is not damaging. On the contrary, it proves they mean what they say, and intend to put serious muscle behind the positions they view as critical to getting America back on track.
I would have been disappointed if Palin and DeMint acted any differently. I just don’t think O’Donnell can do what they need her to do. Such are the strange mechanics of the Delaware race that I hope they’re right about her, and I’m wrong. If she wins the primary tomorrow night, I’ll upgrade that from a hope to a prayer.
Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.
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