The O’Donnell debate continues

Unleashing her most unattractive, unintelligent, and unconservative side (as she did two years ago in a Sixties-style angry-feminist video on behalf of Sarah Palin), Michelle Malkin casts the Christine O’Donnell issue as oppressive “good old boys” trying to crush a feminist heroine. Isn’t it time to grow beyond the feminist schtick, Michelle, especially with you being, you know, a conservative and all?

Meanwhile, Bill O’Reilly, about whom I have rarely said anything very positive, did an excellent job in the “talking points” segment of his show tonight summarizing the O’Donnell situation. First he laid out O’Donnell’s astonishingly poor resumé—her total lack of any kind of career, accomplishments, or income; her mortgage foreclosure, etc. It knocked you back, and many viewers/voters would be ready to write her off at that point. But then O’Reilly switched perspective and showed the ideological differences between O’Donnell and her Democratic opponent, an all-out leftist named Christopher Coons, who has called himself a Marxist. Suddenly, O’Donnell’s lack of life accomplishments didn’t seem to matter very much, or at least it ceased to be the decisive factor. The question became: given the choice between these two, whom do you want in the U.S. Senate? Obviously O’Donnell. Yet the odious spinner Karl Rove and the full-of-it sage Charles Krauthammer (who, interviewed by O’Reilly, again did his sneaky Krauthammer thing, talking like a conservative even as he surrendered to Obamacare and told us to surrender to it as well) seemed to be positively striving to make O’Donnell lose. The salient point that Rove and Krauthammer miss is that O’Donnell has already won the nomination. The Republican voters chose her over Mike Castle. That part of the process is over. So what’s the point of making such a big deal about her credentials now—unless Rove and Krauthammer want her to be defeated by the Democrat?

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There’s another interesting point to be remembered here, which O’Reilly and others have made: when there is an uprising against an entrenched establishment, such as is represented by the Tea Party movement, that is naturally going to bring to the fore people who are not your typical politician, people who are not smooth and finished, people like Carl Paladino and Christine O’Donnell.

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LA writes:

Speaking of Paladino, in an earlier entry, a commenter called him a “horndog” because of his having fathered a child out of wedlock. To which Richard O. replied:

Paladino made a mistake by having an extramarital affair but he hardly qualifies as a “horndog.” He’s behaved honorably with respect to the child and appears to have peace in his household. I don’t see a pattern of affairs with or advances on other women. I don’t think such a derogatory term should be so loosely used.

People are not as bad as the worst things they’ve done and not as good as the best things. The child is not proof that he’s a bad person and doesn’t disqualify him from the office he seeks. Yes, I want a good person as my candidate but even better is a man who’s stumbled but found his feet again.

Interestingly, Paladino is making his extramarital fatherhood a selling point. According to Clyde Haberman in Friday’s New York Times, Paladino’s website compares him to Grover Cleveland. Cleveland, like Paladino, came from Buffalo (though he was born in New Jersey), and was elected goverrnor. Cleveland then went on to be elected president despite having an illegitimate child:

Carl P. Paladino, the Republicans’ choice for New York governor, may be getting a bit ahead of himself. The blustering businessman from Buffalo already seems to have visions of the White House dancing somewhere in the back of his head.

On his campaign Web site, prominently displayed near the top of the home page, is a notice that says in large white-on-black type, “The last NY governor from Buffalo became president of the United States.” This message is rendered in capital letters, just to make sure you don’t miss it.

The reference is to Grover Cleveland, who indeed was from Buffalo, who indeed became governor and who indeed went on to the White House—two nonconsecutive terms in the late 19th century that made him both the 22nd and the 24th president. On the Web site, a photo of Cleveland appears side by side with one of Mr. Paladino.

Though Cleveland was a Democrat and Mr. Paladino is a Republican, the two men have things in common, including fiscal conservatism and a distaste for political patronage and bossism. Oh, there’s one other matter:

Both acknowledged having fathered children who in a quainter time were described as—pass the smelling salts—illegitimate. [LA replies: of course Haberman has to demonstrate his superiority to the notion that there is anything at all objectionable or problematic to society in children being born out of wedlock.]

Mr. Paladino can take heart in the fact that this indiscretion did not stand in Cleveland’s way. In the presidential campaign of 1884, opponents taunted him with shouts of “Ma, ma, where’s my pa?” The gleeful rejoinder from Cleveland supporters after he won the election was, “Gone to the White House. Ha! Ha! Ha!”

September 17

Dan R. writes:

Michelle Malkin apparently isn’t the only person who believes O’Donnell is being crushed by “the good old boys.” According to Wikipedia:

In 2003, O’Donnell moved to Delaware to work for the conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) in Hockessin, and bought a house in Wilmington. She registered a gender discrimination complaint against ISI with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), after which she was terminated by ISI in 2004. She then sued the institute in the federal court for $6.9 million for wrongful termination claiming that she had been fired in retaliation for filing the discrimination complaint and due to ISI’s conservative philosophy that women must be subordinate to men. She said that because of ISI’s actions, she endured mental anguish, and would lose future financial earning power because ISI’s actions would delay her education. ISI defended its action by accusing her of having conducted a for-profit public-relations business while on their time. O’Donnell dropped the suit in 2008, stating she could no longer afford an attorney.

LA replies:

She sounds like a nutcase and a problem. But the U.S. Senate happens to be filled with weirdos of all kinds and platoons of intellectual inferiors. In the latter group, think of Herbert Kohl of Wisconsin, an absolute zero who has been in the Senate for over 20 years. Think of Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, an absolute zero who has been in the Senate for something like 30 years. Think of Patty Murray. Think of Claire McCaskill. Think of Susan Collins. And there are many more like them. It’s not as though O’Donnell’s presence would lower the level of that body. The choice is between her and a far left-wing Democrat.

Mark Jaws writes:

I am with you, Larry. O’Reilly’s Talking Points segment last night was spot on—as usual (I obviously am a much bigger fan of him than you are). I for one stand arm-in-arm with my fellow TEA Party insurrectionists in Delaware who are sick of “smooth and polished” politicians with the complete resume. Just look at what “smooth and polished” resume politicians have done to our country, to our culture, and to our people. It is time to bring regular folks to the fore, who know what it is like to live under the effects of the menacing underclass, illegal immigration, and frustratingly stifling government bureaucracies. And how I wish that the Rovistas of the GOP Establishment, who routinely kowtow to the black and Latino racialists, had shown one half of the venom in going after Obama as they did with this nice, but very unpolished conservative Christian white lady.

Stephen T. writes:

Mark Jaws has it exactly right. If I were the opposition I’d be careful about making an issue of O’Donnell’s foreclosure or the fact that she got behind the eight ball on some credit cards. Such revelations may not estrange her from voters but instead endear her to them as part of the experience of the common man and woman in this country today. There’s a survival mentality taking hold out here in the land and people understand that you do what you have to do in these times. Voters are sick of elite “representatives” who have coasted through life on a cushion of trust funds or millionaire daddies, with not the faintest notion how the other 95 percent lives. I’ll bet O’Donnell’s chief critic, Karl Rove, who declared he was willing to open our border to tens of millions of illegal Mexicans if it meant his pudgy, pampered kids would never have to perform manual labor, has never had to miss a credit card payment.

Remember that young Harry Truman, maybe the last populist president, went bankrupt a couple of times in small businesses (and at least one questionable get-rich-quick venture) and was so broke that he had to move in with his mother in-law.

LA replies:

“Voters are sick of elite ‘representatives’ who have coasted through life on a cushion of trust funds or millionaire daddies, with not the faintest notion how the other 95 percent lives.”

Do conservatives now have to start speaking in left-wing clichés?

Andrea C. writes:

Here is O’Donnell on Hannity last night, if you’re interested. I think she did a good job. Interview begins at the 2:20 mark.

LA replies:

She’s well-spoken and seems a lot more intelligent, decent, and personable than lots of senators I could name.

She seems like a very good candidate. Her weak side seems to be these questions about her personal and financial affairs which according to Rove she has not been honest about. But of all people to make a plausible case that a person is not honest, Rove, the Mayberry Machiavelli, would be the last. He just has no credibility. His statements about her, asuch as what Hannity plays during this segment, are not criticisms; they are attacks clearly intended to destroy her. And how did she reply? She said he’s a good man and she hopes he will see his way to the “greater good.” She seems like a decent, good person, while Rove seems like a person with a sinister agenda.

O’Donnell looks like a winner to me.

LA writes:

Christopher Coons’s self-description as a Marxist was in the distant past. According to the Christian Science Monitor “Christine O’Donnell: Five reasons Democrats may need to worry”):

When he was 21, Coons wrote an article for his college newspaper titled “Chris Coons: The Making of a Bearded Marxist.”

He may not be a self-described Marxist any more, but by all accounts he is a leftist.

I repeat that O’Donnell is well-spoken, personable, and appealing, and she seems like a conservative of conviction. Add onto that the fact that this is the year of the Tea Party, and she looks like a winner. Charles Krauthammer’s remark to O’Reilly last night that her odds of winning are one in ten sounds baseless to me, an expression of snobbery rather than of anything based in reality. I’m not denying the problems presented by O’Donnell’s shaky financial affairs. But I don’t think that’s what’s going to decide most people’s vote. They’re going to look at the candidate and ask, “Do I want this person speaking and voting in the Senate, or that person speaking and voting in the Senate? And on that score I think she has a good chance of winning.

N. writes:

I tend to agree with you and others that the attacks on O’Donnell by Rove et al. are not going to work as expected. One of the interesting things about the Palin phenomenon in 2008 was how many more or less middle class voters I knew who supported her for emotional reasons. I’m thinking of actual people with somewhat messed up lives; professionals on their second marriage and all the stepchildren that go with it, small business owners trying to “tough love” their 18 year old single-mother daughters, local elected officials in small towns who bristled at the fact that nearly a score of reporters were sent to Alaska solely to dig up dirt.

Some of these people still support Palin, others have found reasons to not do so anymore. But the important thing is that a politician who was more or less middle class in experience, who didn’t try to hide shortcomings and mistakes, was being slammed by the self-anointed elites … and that resonated with more than a few voters I personally know.

Her life is kind of messy. So are the lives of a lot of voters. She doesn’t have that totally airbrushed, sanitized look about her, unlike many professional politicians such as John Edwards. And finally, she’s opposed by a Marxist Democrat. So it could be that O’Donnell is electable, more so than Rove believes.

It seems to me that much of the criticism dumped on O’Donnell in the last few weeks from the Republican party is sour grapes, because she’s not from the anointed political class, doesn’t have the right country club membership, and so forth. Recall, however, that Elizabeth “Liddy” Dole had all those things, and she only lasted one term as Senator.

LA replies:

I must say that I don’t like the argument—and I said so many times in 2008—that “real people with messed up lives see themselves in Palin, and support her for that reason.” I don’t think this is a valid reason to support anyone politically. To the extent people are voting on this basis, it is not something to be welcomed. It doesn’t represent anything serious politically on which anything worthwhile can be built. It’s a house of fantasy which will soon collapse, just like the house of fantasy built around Obama has collapseed.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 17, 2010 12:24 AM | Send

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