The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Which Side in This Fight Goes Straight to Attributing Corrupt Motives?


A lot of Delaware talk in this Monday edition of Morning Jolt


Might as well address this, even though the topic has turned me into Snidely Whiplash in some corners of the conservative blogosphere. If Public Policy Polling is right, there is an excellent chance that Christine O’Donnell will be the Republican nominee for Senate in the state of Delaware…

Ian Lazarian at Conservatives for Palin contends he knows who deserves the credit: “The pollster found Governor Palin’s endorsement to actually be more helpful in Delaware than New Hampshire, despite the fact that Delaware is a more “moderate” state with fewer primary voters that identify with the Tea Party. 47% of Delaware conservative primary voters were more likely to vote for O’Donnell because of Palin’s endorsement and O’Donnell’s lead stems from her 62-31 advantage over Castle among Delaware conservatives. In fact, it’s difficult to argue that O’Donnell would be in such a strong position without Governor Palin’s endorsement. O’Donnell leads Castle by an 83-13 margin among those more likely to vote for her because of Palin’s endorsement. Castle is winning among everyone else but O’Donnell’s ability to win over those more likely to vote for her because of Governor Palin’s endorsement by such an overwhelming margin is what has her in the lead.”

Over at the Weekly Standard, fellow apostate John McCormick writes about O’Donnell’s $6.5 million lawsuit against the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a conservative non-profit based in Delaware in 2005. He notes “sought $6.95 million in damages. In a court complaint, she extensively detailed the “mental anguish” she suffered after allegedly being demoted and fired because of her gender. And, although she didn’t have a bachelor’s degree until this year, O’Donnell implied she was taking master’s degree classes at Princeton University in 2003.”

Doug Ross contends there’s nothing sufficiently shocking in the article, dismissing it as work from “Mike Castle’s Beltway cocktail buddies.”

Mark Levin griped about Paul Mirengoff; Mirengoff responds, and John Hinderacker adds a footnote, “Mark Levin has done some great work for the conservative cause, so it is disheartening to see him playing so fast and loose with the facts. There is an unfortunate tendency among some on the right to adopt the view that no one is a *real* conservative except for them and a handful of their friends or followers. This sort of divisive, exclusionary attitude is a sure ticket to perpetual minority status, and should be avoided by all conservatives.”

Notice which side in this debate adopts the left’s tactic of going straight to motive, and attributing sinister or corrupt motives to those who disagree with them. If you don’t like Mike Castle, or he’s too much of a squish for you, I can’t blame you. If you prefer Christine O’Donnell because her stances are closer to yours, your logic is perfectly sensible.

If you listen to the pro-O’Donnell folks, the two words most often cited are “principle” and either “ideology” or “conservative.” I would be a fool to argue that ideology shouldn’t be important when writing to a conservative audience. Indeed, perhaps the pro-Castle folks put too much stock on electability; a well-known candidate that runs primarily on “inevitability” deserves to be called insufferable. (In retrospect, Mike Castle should have debated O’Donnell, both as a political tactic and as for the health of the party.)

But doesn’t judgment and character belong up there, too? The list of… questionable behavior and decisions on O’Donnell is long and clear. She told blatant, easy-to-check lies on the campaign trail. Her associates recorded a video alleging, without proof, that Mike Castle had gay affairs. She left employees of former campaigns unpaid for their labors. She lapsed into paranoid conspiracy theories, with her campaign suggesting the Rasmussen poll results were influenced by the long tentacles of the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senate Committee. She may have committed a crime by offering false information on her Senate financial disclosure form, reporting $5,800 in income for 2009 but later saying she had more that she wasn’t required to disclose (the exceptions are few and limited to amounts less than $250). (She somehow managed to pay $11,744.59 in back taxes in a year she reportedly earned about half that.)

Finally, experience may be overrated, but accomplishments aren’t. A three-time candidate never elected to any office, O’Donnell has no record of managing or governing at any level. The very first line of her campaign biography identifies her as a “marketing and media consultant to various clients, including: Icon Pictures’ The Passion of The Christ.” I’m glad she was there to help promote a vivid, unsparing, epically moving and controversial movie about the most important event in human history, otherwise it might not have found an audience. She really deserved a share of the residuals.

Most of O’Donnell’s defenders refuse to seriously acknowledge or rebuke behavior that would have been instantly denounced coming from any Democrat, instead offering variations of Ross’ “you just want invites to all the Beltway cocktail parties” sneers or angry demands to look into bad behavior on the part of Castle.

Levin writes in his latest response to Mirengoff, “Campaigns are waged over a period of months if not years.  You try to influence your fellow citizens to your position.” This is the closest I can see to a strong argument for taking a risk with such a flawed candidate, coupled with an earlier observation from Jeff Lord, last seen laying out why I’m part of the Ruling Class or a pawn to their will: “But when is a lost election really a lost election? If the conservative agenda is to move the country away from the nightmare of the Obama-era’s left-wing fanaticism, isn’t any kind of a showing by a conservative in Delaware a victory for the larger cause?”

Is the idea is that if Christine O’Donnell can get a respectable share of the vote in a general election, we should imagine what a sterling conservative without all this baggage will do in a future cycle?

How about we skip this step and find that sterling conservative without all this baggage? If elected, Mike Castle isn’t going to be spending a lot of years in the Senate. Is there no Joe Miller in Delaware politics?

Tags: Christine O'Donnell , Joe Miller , Mike Castle


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