Green Room

Doubling Down on O’Donnell

posted at 12:51 am on September 23, 2010 by

The Delaware Senate race is like a game of Texas Hold-em that started slow, with boring cards on the table, and an obvious winner smirking over his hole cards.  A few rounds later, everyone is frantically throwing chips onto a huge pile and waiting for the last card to be dealt.  The early favorite folded early, but now he’s circling the table with crumpled bills clutched in a sweaty hand, muttering that he’s “very unhappy with things that happened” early in the game.

There are far more than two players in this game.  The Tea Party has embraced Christine O’Donnell as a brave trooper fighting horrendous odds.  Conservative stalwarts like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin are weary of settling for weak-willed establishment candidates who can’t wait to sell out their base, and reach a profitable understanding with statist ideology.

Meanwhile, elements of the GOP establishment are bizarrely obsessed with destroying her.  The National Republican Senatorial Committee announced it wouldn’t spend a dime to help her, within moments of her primary victory over Mike Castle, but changed its mind after a night of outrage from Republican voters.  Castle has refused to endorse her, and is openly contemplating a write-in challenge.  Republican sages like Karl Rove launch daily assaults against O’Donnell, behaving as if she somehow stole her nomination.  As Lori Ziganto notes, various forces have constructed a sexism controversy around her… some eager to beat the Democrats with their own gender politics cudgel, others belittling O’Donnell for whining she hasn’t actually indulged in.  I suspect some lazy observers are trotting out this narrative just because O’Donnell is good-looking.

In the interests of full disclosure, I sized up the Delaware race and reluctantly concluded it was strategically wise to support Castle, who had a much better chance of taking the seat, and possibly delivering a Republican Senate.  I made this recommendation to play the odds, not predict the future.  Now that O’Donnell is the nominee, I support her candidacy without hesitation.  I dearly hope Senator O’Donnell and I can meet up in Hogsmeade someday, and have a laugh about my lack of faith over a butterbeer.

Too many of the pundits who weighed in against her candidacy have interests that trump the success of the Republican Party, or indeed the country.  Opposing her during primary season was fair enough – in fact, it was vital.  Primaries are the season for testing and measuring candidates.  Hitting them hard is the only way to judge their strength… but once the primary is over, you stop hitting them. No one is obliged to fake enthusiasm for a candidate they dislike, but actively sabotaging the Republican candidate, with the stakes as high as they are, is madness. The Democrat Party needs no reinforcements to inflict more damage on America.  Republicans in Delaware would be wise to ask if letting go of a few odd comments from O’Donnell’s past is a fair price to pay, if it means keeping the rest of the state from ending up like New Castle County.  For that matter, I’d advise Delaware Democrats and independents to ask themselves the same question.

Some of the animosity toward O’Donnell is blowback from the rather… fiery enthusiasm her supporters displayed in the last days of the primary.  Some flows from a desire to teach Tea Party insurgents a lesson about backing long-shot candidates in the name of ideological purity.  To this group, I would say that we don’t have time for such lessons.  The next two elections are far too critical to jeopardize any seat, in service to an argument about who we should nominate in 2014.

Like other Tea Party favorites, O’Donnell earns the enmity of an establishment that wants its turn piloting the statist machinery we aim to dismantle.  They think the reason America is headed for a cliff is that our current President is stomping on the gas pedal, but he can’t quite reach the steering wheel.  They have cynically concluded that real change is impossible, and the rusted machinery of the New Deal is eternal.  Flights of fancy about little girls in Minuteman costumes are a distraction from serious business, like negotiating small reductions in the rate of spending increases.  Better to have a sensible Democrat holding the seat from Delaware, until a marginally more sensible establishment Republican with the proper credentials can be advanced in a few years.

Some of the most persistent O’Donnell critics are pundits who see their influence and reputation on the line.  They announced with absolute certainty that she cannot win this race, and by hook or crook, they’re going to make that prediction come true. I’d be delighted if events prove I was wrong about O’Donnell in the primary… but there are Republican commentators who hope Senator Chris Coons will save them from being wrong about her in the general election.  When a fortune teller predicts you’ll die by fire, check behind his back to see if he’s holding a gasoline can and some flares.

Things are still looking pretty grim for Christine O’Donnell.  Sniping at her now will cripple her chances with independent voters, who often make up their minds right before the election, no matter what they tell pollsters several weeks out.  They tend to be heavily influenced by the prevailing media narrative, so making it more toxic will do real damage to her prospects.

No matter what you thought about O’Donnell during the primary season, there’s no doubt the conservative cause would benefit tremendously from seeing her rake in the chips from the high-stakes Delaware game on Election Day.  The Senate certainly doesn’t need another tired old lefty who pretends to be a moderate for a few months every six years.

Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.

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TheBlueSite on September 23, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Got it. So how did Lindsey Grahmnesty work out for you? Or Johnny Mac? Or Maine Sisters? Hey how about Scott Brown? Don’t give us this electability BS. Delaware Republican voters get to decide who their nominee is. Not the “electability” deciding armchair fraud artists.

antisocial on September 23, 2010 at 3:41 PM

I get that a lot of you believe that O’Donnell is fatally flawed. Well, fine, I can except that, except that the primary season is now OVER. If you really want to have a discussion about purging O’Donnell from the stage, have that discussion in 2014, unless a recall petition is warranted sooner.

Coons in the seat means one more vote, one more foot on the gas with the country racing toward the cliff. Enough already with the self-sabotaging of the Republican candidate. Delaware voters can keep up with her and ensure that she stays true to her campaign promises.

Are we serious about taking the country back or what?

Again, show me during the primary season where a more capable and reliable conservative was running in Delaware. They *didn’t* run, so that’s that.

After 2012, all bets are off. Until then, vote “R” every time in the general election, period.

itzWicks on September 23, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Ed or AP should put up a pro-Coons post and see who it attracts.

darwin on September 23, 2010 at 3:41 PM

If somebody out there is willing to put forth a more conservative candidate who also meets all of your own personal criteria for “electability,” hey more power to you.

But when someone refuses to do that, and all he’s willing to do is cut down the most conservative candidate who happens to be in the race, then I guess he’s not being very hepful is he?

So I’m going to have to resort to namecalling. But I can’t think of what to call people like this. What’s that word again? You know, the one that means the exact opposite of “helpful”…?

Oh yeah, now I remember: Liberal.

logis on September 23, 2010 at 3:42 PM

Castle isn’t worth this level of angst…his behavior after losing the primary proves that.

It’s time to get on board or just move on.

Asher on September 23, 2010 at 3:45 PM

We look foolish, and I, for one, don’t want to look foolish. That’s why I’d fight a senator O’Donnell. I suspect the same fear is on the minds of a lot of conservatives.
TheBlueSite on September 23, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Don’t use “we” here. That doesn’t include me. You are already looking foolish. You want to fight your party’s candidate just to look good to indies and so called moderates!!! Oh come on!!! Don’t be a Powell.

antisocial on September 23, 2010 at 3:45 PM

The Tea Party already won and thats’ why the Establishment hacks are pissed.
Their boy lost and they are in the business of getting people elected.

If Castle had won he would have been another Snowe or Collins or Grahamnasty or McCain always stealin the limelight by scuttling any chance of conservative victorys or reforms.

Now the RINO circus has been put on notice straighten up and fly right or fly left and we’ll shoot your ass down!

As usual good job Doc!

dhunter on September 23, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Good post. Thanks.

PhilipJames on September 23, 2010 at 3:47 PM

It’s wonderful to see that we, the American people, aren’t being “told” who we’re supposed to support and not support. That’s what these establishment republicans don’t like – they’ve turned into democrats and feel that they’re entitled to keep their seats just because of who they are. Like the Kennedys and most of the New England liberal parasites, we don’t need republicans that are complacent and elitist. We can see the sore loser mentality also and the damage they’re trying to do. I hope this lady makes it because that would be a true success story and it would be the will of the people not the media and political establishment.

mozalf on September 23, 2010 at 3:53 PM

So what’s Christine’s plan for jobs and the economy?

rockmom on September 23, 2010 at 9:25 AM

What was Mike Castle’s plan for jobs and the economy?

uknowmorethanme on September 23, 2010 at 3:29 PM

Cap & trade, not supporting a repeal of 0bamacare, TARP, bailouts, and raising our taxes to pay for it all.

What…. you don’t think that plan would have worked? /sarc

UltimateBob on September 23, 2010 at 4:10 PM

Those who plan to vote out liberalism are probably like me, doing it with steely determination and pay no attention whatsoever to the naysayers. Don’t give the media too much credit Doc.

SWChance on September 23, 2010 at 4:15 PM

We look foolish, and I, for one, don’t want to look foolish. That’s why I’d fight a senator O’Donnell. I suspect the same fear is on the minds of a lot of conservatives.

TheBlueSite on September 23, 2010 at 3:20 PM

The fear of looking foolish shouldn’t be on the minds of anyone who would call themselves “conservative.” I think fear and outright cowardice is, in fact, what drives many “independents” to be too wishy-washy to express an opinion anyplace outside of the ballot box.

gryphon202 on September 23, 2010 at 4:16 PM

I’m so tired of hearing about how she one the primary and how we need to get behind her because of the fact. A few weeks ago, you all were arguing the exact opposite, saying we should stop supporting people based on labels.

Narutoboy on September 23, 2010 at 3:17 PM

It’s “she won”, Naruto. I know, it’s probably a subconscious loathing that prevents you from typing that, but go with it.

I’ll say again: You don’t have a time machine. No amount of recriminations today will change the fact that she is the candidate.

There are only three realistic choices at this point until November 3rd: Sit quietly on the sidelines, act in a way that makes it more likely for her to beat Coons, or act in a way that supports Coons beating her.

Those are the only real options. If you fail to take either of the first two options, you are implicitly taking the third… no matter how much you might swear that’s not your intention. Intention or not, that is the effect.

You don’t “have to get behind her” AT ALL. You can choose to keep your yap shut, or you can continue running her down which is helping Coons win.

The time to have the discussion about getting better candidates, and doing a better job of early vetting, is on or after November 3rd.

VekTor on September 23, 2010 at 4:18 PM

Castle isn’t worth this level of angst…his behavior after losing the primary proves that.
Asher on September 23, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Imagine for a second that the shoe were on the other foot.

If O’Donnell had lost the primary – and then kited a check, jumped onto a broomstick and flew away – then no matter what I thought about her detractors’, I would have to grudgingly admit that they were RIGHT.

How many times now have RINOs categorically proven that the worst things said about them were 100% true? Yet their supporters STILL keep trying to convince us they’re our only hope for salvation.

logis on September 23, 2010 at 4:20 PM

I’m so tired of hearing about how she one the primary and how we need to get behind her because of the fact.
Narutoboy on September 23, 2010 at 3:17 PM

What do you mean “we,” white man?

logis on September 23, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Narutobuy is out of the basement again…

Time for “whack-a-troll!”

Khun Joe on September 23, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Who the Hell wants Coons to win? Certainly not me. Coons is a total nutbag.

I get the need for a better alternative to Castle. The time to make this decision, and make the case for O’Donnell or another conservative candidate was months ago, whereby the better alternative to Castle could have gone into the primary either the presumed or very likely winner. What happened was that folks got all jazzed up after taking out Merkinkowski in Alaska, and were going “SCALPS SCALPS I WANT SCALPS!!!1!!1″ Delaware came about at the right/wrong time.

However, I refuse to think that O’Donnell is the Second Coming of Ronald Reagan, the real fer true test case for Palin, or a valid litmus test as to who is or is not truly conservative. I simply want the R to win. Ask me to kiss your ring, and I’ll tell you to kiss my azz.

Sekhmet on September 23, 2010 at 4:42 PM

However, I refuse to think that O’Donnell is the Second Coming of Ronald Reagan, the real fer true test case for Palin, or a valid litmus test as to who is or is not truly conservative. I simply want the R to win. Ask me to kiss your ring, and I’ll tell you to kiss my azz.

Sekhmet on September 23, 2010 at 4:42 PM

Hey man, I’m totally on board with you. I would simply go one step farther to say at this point (when the primaries are over), the quality of a candidate (any candidate) is irrelevant. The purge we need to worry about now is purging those “D” goons who voted for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to be in their respective leadership positions. Everything else is smoke and mirrors.

gryphon202 on September 23, 2010 at 4:46 PM

I get the need for a better alternative to Castle. The time to make this decision, and make the case for O’Donnell or another conservative candidate was months ago, whereby the better alternative to Castle could have gone into the primary either the presumed or very likely winner.
Sekhmet on September 23, 2010 at 4:42 PM

Well, Du-uh. This is obviously true.

OF COURSE the GOP should have gotten behind O’Donnell (or an even more conservative candidate if they could find one) and quietly shoved Castle into a well-deserved political grave behind the scenes. But, sadly, they failed to do the right thing – yet again.

The only question now is: Have they finally learned something from their several-dozenth inexcusable malfeasance in a row?

Sadly, I’m afraid it’s a little hard to see any evidence of that, since some of those jackasses still kept slamming O’Donnell even after the damned primary was OVER.

logis on September 23, 2010 at 4:56 PM

The RINOphiles who were so condescending in their opposition to DE Christine supporters can now see, maybe, perhaps, a little, why conservative Delawareans so despise Mike Craple.

He snivels about being hurt, he mopes, he threatens to run as a write in, he refuses to endorse Christine, “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” as if she took something that was his by birthright, is all an open window on his empty gray soul that we have been living with in DE for decades.

Even if half of what Dems and RINOphiles have been saying about CO were true, and more than half of it ain’t, she hasn’t been selling her country up the river for decades. Finally we have the numbers and the gumption to punish someone who has been, and our betters tell us we should vote for a Marxist to prevent a Marxist from winning.

Isn’t that a bit contradictory?

So you wanna do something constructive for conservatism in DE, you RINOphiles? STFU.

Now I have to go change my shirt.

Akzed on September 23, 2010 at 4:57 PM

Now I have to go change my shirt.

Akzed on September 23, 2010 at 4:57 PM

Change your drawers while you’re at it, zed. ;)

gryphon202 on September 23, 2010 at 5:00 PM

logis on September 23, 2010 at 4:56 PM

The GOP had made the deal with Castle in order to gain the Senate seat. If the Tea Party had found it this objectionable months and months ago, the case not to do this should have been made months and months ago.

No, O’Donnell’s mere presence in the race was not that signal. Just about every candidate faces primary challenges with varying levels of seriousness. Castle didn’t become Satan until the Tea Party got Mucky knocked out in AK.

Sekhmet on September 23, 2010 at 5:13 PM

The only rational conclusion that we can make about continued Republican opposition to O’Donnell is that her detractors have another agenda. They are not really in favor of Republican victory or they would support the only Republican candidate. They are not really in favor of conservative victory because they will not support the only conservative candidate.

It is obvious at this point that O’Donnell has become a litmus test to detect the faithless and fakers. There is no rational basis to actively work against O’Donnell except for those that have a hidden agenda.

For the RINOs the reason is that they need to protect their argument that conservatives cannot win in blue states. They cannot allow the party to understand that they have been lying to us all this time and that voters WILL respond to conservative ideas if they are presented properly. The RINOS lose their message if O’Donnell wins and they know it.

Hawthorne on September 23, 2010 at 5:16 PM

The GOP had made the deal with Castle in order to gain the Senate seat. If the Tea Party had found it this objectionable months and months ago, the case not to do this should have been made months and months ago.

No, O’Donnell’s mere presence in the race was not that signal. Just about every candidate faces primary challenges with varying levels of seriousness. Castle didn’t become Satan until the Tea Party got Mucky knocked out in AK.

Sekhmet on September 23, 2010 at 5:13 PM

I see, so you think that the Tea Party had not been working for O’Donnell PRIOR to Miller winning in Alaska? It seems to me that the Tea Party Express endorsed O’Donnell in late July.

The Alaska primary was not until late August. So the Miller victory could not have been the factor that propelled Tea Party backing of O’Donnell. It seems to me that the Tea Party decided Castle was not the best candidate long before Miller won.

Facts are rather inconvenient, aren’t they?

Hawthorne on September 23, 2010 at 5:30 PM

If we want to get rid of Obama in 2012, we are better off not controlling a Senate with 3 or 4 “RINOs” being the deciding votes. It would set the up GOP for infighting and a scaled back set of objects. That puts Obama in the perfect position to play “statesman”, blame the GOP Congress for everything, and use his superior campaigning skills to force another 4 years of his incompetence down our throats.

We are better off having the House to stop any radical agenda items, while making Obama and a Dem Senate play spoiler to the ideas the new Republicans got elected on….

Two years of that and the American public will be even more angry with Obama and his party. It would set up his defeat and a Republican takeover of the Senate with a shot for more significant gains in the House. THEN, we would finally be in a position to start undoing the damage done by the Progressive agenda and Obama.

I just fear that a Republican Senate without the right leadership or conservative resolve would be more harm than good going into 2012.

alecj on September 23, 2010 at 5:34 PM

Sekhmet on September 23, 2010 at 5:13 PM

You try to paint the Tea Party as being late to the party in Delaware. That is simply a lie. The Tea Party knew very well that Castle was not the person they wanted. They said so in endorsements for TWO MONTHS before the primary elections was held.

The problem is not that the Tea Party failed to express their displeasure with Castle, they did that clearly and it is why Castle lost. The problem is that the RINOs ignored the message that conservatives in Delaware were not willing to tolerate Castle any more.

I find it utterly amazing that you try to paint this as being too late. Exactly what do you think a primary is for if it is not to express which candidate we want to represent us in the election? The opposition to Castle was there all along, you just needed to listen to hear it.

Hawthorne on September 23, 2010 at 5:36 PM

The real problem is that the Delaware primary illustrated EXACTLY why the Republican party loses some important elections. We have watched our nation systematically destroyed by liberal policies put forth by Obama and the Democrats. The outrage was so profound that it spawned the Tea Party movement.

The RINOs have been tone-deaf for some time. They did not hear when people were mad about their fiscal irresponsibility and tossed the Republicans out of office. They still operated on their failed meme that only moderates can win because they PURPOSELY misinterpreted the Republican losses as a shift to the left.

The Republicans were voted out because they failed their own voter base. The conservatives stayed home, and the independents just voted against the irresponsible policies of the Republicans. The fact that they put in somebody worse was an unintended consequence.

So now the RINOs continued to be tone-deaf in Delaware and they continue to push their failed meme. The use any form of spin and slime they can to hold on to power because they love it like they love their own lives. They seek power for power’s sake and have no grounding in principles or service to guide them.

I am so tired of the spin and slime. It is all that people without ethics ever know. The RINOIs have given up their religion and failed to find any ethical compass to replace it. So they have become their own God and serve only themselves.

Hawthorne on September 23, 2010 at 5:49 PM

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