Here’s a little secret about the American electorate. They are amused by political jokes like Alvin Green but they don’t want to elect them. Weirdos, freaks, flakes and flat-out nut cases entertain the activists and a bored stupid mainstream media, but they don’t play so well with the general populace.
Extremism scares most folks whether it comes from the Right or Left side of the aisle. Extremists entertain, but moderates get elected.
Normally a Republican primary in Delaware would not attract national attention but when Tea Party backed candidate Christine O’ Donnell beat Michael Castle, a moderate Republican congressman, it sent shivers down the spine of the Republican establishment as yet another insurgent ousted the hand-picked candidate. This same drama of Republicans eating their own played out in Utah, Alaska, Kentucky and Florida and burdened by a slate of possible unelectable challengers, threatens their chances of seizing control of Congress away from the Democrats.
There’s just one problem and it’s a big one. While O’Donnell excites the base of the GOP, she terrifies party elders who fear she’s an unelectable nut.
Even Evil Karl Rove isn’t feeling the love for O’Donnell as he made clear in a discussion with Fox News butt-boy Sean Hannity:
Rove: I’ve met her. I got to tell you, I wasn’t frankly impressed as her abilities as a candidate. And again, these serious questions about how does she make her living? Why did she mislead voters about her college education? How come it took nearly two decades to pay her college bills so she could get her college degree? How did she make a living? Why didn’t she sue a well-known and well – conservative think tank?
Hannity: This is probably one of the few times we’re going to disagree here because I met her. I’ve interviewed her a lot over the years. I found her quite impressive. More importantly, she is a solid conservative. I think what people are saying in this primary, in this race and I think all across the country in these other races that we are mentioning here is that you know what, if you vote for cap and tax and have an opponent that says they wouldn’t they have an choice, they have an option.
So I think it was very substantive, very based on issues, very based on the voting record of one and the promised voting record of another.
Rove: Again, you are making my case this was about Mike Castle’s bad votes. It does conservatives little good to support candidates who at the end of the day while they may be conservative in their public statements do not event the characteristics of rectitude, truthfulness and sincerity and character that the voters are looking for.
We’ll see how she can answer these questions. She sure as heck didn’t answer them thus far in the campaign and not in the general election that she will be asked about.
Hannity: I interviewed her and I felt her explanations were more plausible —
Rove: Did you ask her about the people who were following her home to her headquarters and how she has checked each night in the bushes? Did you asked her – I mean, there were a lot of nutty things she has been saying that just simply don’t add up to —
Hannity: It sounds like you don’t support her, but I will tell you, I think —
Rove: I’m for the Republican, but I got to tell you, we were looking at eight to nine seats in the Senate. We are now looking at seven to eight in my opinion. This is not a race we’re going to be able to win.
A guy like Rove doesn’t go public with his reservations about a Republican candidate if hasn’t already divined the tea leaves and wasn’t thrilled by the results.
Here are some of the reasons the GOP establishment isn’t feeling the love for this particular Mama Grizzly.
O’Donnell’s team calls Castle “King RINO” — that is, Republican In Name Only. She has received endorsements from major interest groups and leading conservatives, including the Tea Party Express, Sarah Palin, the National Rifle Association and Sen. Jim DeMint. Yet she and her camp have been associated with so many controversies that many Republicans consider her unelectable. Her chief detractors are the state GOP and other conservatives. Republican State Party Chairman Tom Ross referred Monday, for example, to her “long series of dishonest and ethically questionable actions.”
Among other things, O’Donnell claimed falsely to have won two of the state’s three counties against Joe Biden in the 2008 Senate race; she also claimed falsely to have a 1993 degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University (she received the degree earlier this month after paying tuition bills from the 1990s and finishing an additional class).
O’Donnell’s finances are irregular, especially for a political candidate. As The News Journal of Wilmington summarized, “Public records show O’Donnell has no steady income, no savings, no investments and owns no property.” She reported income of only $5,800 last year. Her mortgage was almost foreclosed in 2008 and this year the IRS filed a lien against her for unpaid income taxes. Also noteworthy: She said her political enemies lurk outside her house, she is against masturbation, and in 2005, claiming mental anguish, she filed a $6.95 million lawsuit accusing a conservative group of demoting her because she is a woman.
An anti-masturbation U.S. Senator? Oh good, at last someone is finally thinking about the children!
I’m always cautious about saying a candidate is “unelectable” because voters have a nasty habit of making pollsters look stupid by doing exactly what they damn well please. It would be silly to suggest Christine O’Donnell can’t win because in every election weird stuff goes down nobody predicted, nobody saw coming and nobody understands how it happened.
Still, if I were the Democrat trying to hold on to Joe Biden’s old Senate seat, I would be feeling better about the chances of doing so when the opponent is a far-right reactionary and not another colorless centrist.