It was striking to read the headlines this morning concerning the unlikely primary win of Christine O'Donnell in the Republican election for Senator from Delaware. It was all about the crestfallen reaction of Republicans, and glee from Democrats. O'Donnell, riding the crest of an endorsement from Sarah Palin, patron saint of the Tea Party faithful, defeated long-time Delaware congressman and former governor Mike Castle, and the reverberations are shaking the walls of the political punditry.
O'Donnell is another in a long line of Tea Party winners, each one seemingly more bizarre than the other. I thought Sharron Angle of Nevada was the prize-winning booby, but O'Donnell is in the hunt. She has stated an opinion that too much money government money is spent on AIDS research, and also may be the only candidate of recent memory to have a stated position on masturbation (she's against it--does this mean she'll make it illegal to buy personal lube without a permit?) Because she's never been married, we can assume that this attractive 41-year-old woman is a virgin. If elected, she probably would be the first of that status to be seated in that august chamber, at least since James Buchanan.
Republicans are upset because Castle would have been an easy winner in the general election. Delaware is a generally blue state, and the seat was recently occupied for two generations by Joe Biden, so a G.O.P. pick up would have been quite a coup. Polls indicate, though, that O'Donnell will lose to Democratic candidate Chris Coons, so she will get no money from the Republican National Committee. Even Karl Rove is piqued, lashing out at her. O'Donnell responded that his accusations are "unfactual," reminding everyone why Palin endorsed her.
This would seem to be good news for Democrats, but be careful for what one wishes for. Yes, she's a loon, but if she wins she could be just another in one of the most bizarre classes of Senators in ages. One recalls the class of 1980, who turned a large minority into a majority on the coattails of Ronald Reagan. Such lesser lights as Mack Mattingly, Jeremiah Denton, John East, Paula Hawkins, and the king of dim bulbs, Dan Quayle, swept into office. Many were ushered out in 1986, but they did enough damage to make their mark.
While O'Donnell will likely lose, Tea Party nutjobs such as Rand Paul, Ken Buck, Joe Miller, and, god forbid, Angle, could win. The key to avoiding this disaster is turn out. If every registered Democrat would get off their fanny and vote, the country will be spared this reactionary assault. But we keep hearing that Democrats are losing the "enthusiasm gap." Jesus Christmas! Do Democrats really want to watch the Senate turn into some kind of Fox News circus? Vote!