Saturday, October 16, 2010

Does Christine O'Donnell Define Modern Conservatism? Let's Ask Alvin Greene

Anyone else find it strange that the American media is so obsessed with Delaware Republican Christine O'Donnell? Though she trails Democrat Chris Coons by double digits in the polls America was treated to national coverage of a debate between the two moderated by Wolf Blitzer. Americans are also being told that Christine O'Donnell's surprise primary victory over moderate Republican Mike Castle is evidence that the Republican Party is being taken over by an anti-intellectual denizen of Tea Partiers. Time magazine's Joel Klein suggested that it was proof that we celebrate our ignoramuses. Eugene Robinson declared her nomination to be evidence of the politics of insanity.

My problem with these arguments is simple - why is it that Christine O'Donnell defines the Republican party, but Democratic Senatorial candidate Alvin Greene of South Carolina does not define the Democratic party?

Why is it that only a rather odd Republican nominee warrants the scrutiny and concern of Klein and Robinson and the attention of CNN? O'Donnell received the votes of about 31,000 Republicans in the Delaware primary. By way of contrast, more than 100,000 South Carolina Democrats cast votes for Greene, a man under indictment for showing pornographic pictures to an 18-year old female college student. Seems that far more Democrats found him to be an appropriate spokesman.

To be fair, O'Donnell is not offered as the sole piece of evidence in the "GOP gone crazy" argument. Did Republicans in New York nominate Carl Paladino? Yes. But is he really any worse than Democrat Alan Grayson in Florida? No. The simple and inconvenient truth is that both parties are home to some pretty embarrassing candidates - but those candidates do not define the parties and we should stop pretending otherwise.

O'Donnell is being used to further a false narrative that the GOP has been taken over by anti-intellectual extremists - never mind that she won a primary in which two-thirds of Republicans in the state did not vote and she is now poised to lose the general election. Christine O'Donnell is no more the face of modern American conservatism than is Alvin Greene the face of modern American liberalism.