Posts Tagged ‘Christine O’ Donnell’

30 Year Old Virgin

Monday, September 27th, 2010

There’s been a lot of focus on Christine O’Donnell’s comments on evolution, which Bill Maher released this week, but I also stumbled on this cringeworthy one from a few years ago.

“I’m a young woman in my 30′s, and I remain chaste.”

TMI Christine!…

The Tea Party Takeover of the Republican Party

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Since the advent of the Tea Party, my conservative uncle has consistently been sending me info on how the only way for Republicans to regain and maintain power is to embrace the movement’s agenda wholeheartedly.

Based on the events of the past year, we may see that idea tested. Over the past months, Tea Party candidates have forced out an increasing number of  “establishment” GOP candidates (many of whom were nationally known) in favor of candidates whose support came in large part from the Tea Party.

The list is impressive: Robert Bennet in Utah, Trey Grayson in Kentucky, Sue Lowden in Nevada, Jane Norton in Colorado, both Charlie Crist and Bill McCollum in Florida, Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania (who was pushed out of the Republican party by Pat Toomey and the Club for Growth and then kicked out of the Democratic party by Sestak and the voters of PA),  and finally and most dramatically, Rick Lazio in New York and Mike Castle in Delaware (the only Republican that could have taken the Senate seat for the Republicans).

In other cases politicians have completely revamped their personalities, becoming more rigid and dogmatic to save themselves from Tea Party challengers. John McCain, who faced a Tea Party influenced J.D. Hayworth is the most egregious example of this. Faced with losing his seat, this American hero who prided himself on being independent and putting “Country First” is almost totally unrecognizable from the John McCain that the country knew and loved three years ago.

While McCain’s rightward shift looked like overkill, the defeat of Lisa Murkowski in Alaska by Joe Miller, shows the perils of complacency. Murkowski’s defeat by Joe Miller in Alaska seemed to come out of nowhere. While polls has shown the race tightening, not a single poll  had shown Miller even within striking distance of Murkowski and she overspent him by a 10 to 1 margin. Miller’s win was propelled by a number of influences, but what made the difference on election day was a huge increase in turnout by social conservatives who were motivated in part by a ballot measure on parental consent for abortion. These kind of unpredictable results are the kind of things that keep politicians up at night, and while it’s tempting to say that keeping politicians feet to the fire is a good thing, that’s more difficult to claim when we’re talking about the beliefs of a small minority of increasingly paranoid people (which is what Republican  primary voters have become in many states). 

There’s a debate raging around the country about whether the Tea Party Tumult will be good or bad for the Republican party’s electoral fortunes this year and going forward. It’s somewhat of a mixed bag this year, but the Tea Party has been able to take advantage of the unpopularity of the Democrats to field a slate of candidates (especially in Senate races) who seem to be faring well despite their extreme views. In other cases, the Tea Party has taken seats that were almost guaranteed Republican pickups and turned them into either dead heats (in the case of Nevada) or heavily favored Democratic seats (like Delaware).

In House races, the Tea Party should also help the Republicans since an influx of new (or newly energized) voters can swing a close election in House Districts (especially when the opposition party is as dispirited as Democratic voters have been this year).

Long term, I would be concerned about the Tea Party takeover of the party if I were a  Republican.  The country is generally center right, but there is strong support for a safety net. The Tea Party people are hard free market libertarians and many have spoken out in favor of dismantling the safety net. The country is becoming increasingly diverse and more open minded. The Tea Party led Republicans are becoming whiter, more nativist and idealize the 1950′s (a time that wasn’t always great if you were a minority or a woman).

Scapegoating immigrants and Muslims might be good short term politics in a midterm year, but if you want to see the fruits of that kind of effort, just go talk to President Pete Wilson, who rode to the presidency on his scapegoating of immigrants in the early 90′s… Oh wait, the actual results were that he is now reviled in the state and his party has almost ceased to compete statewide and struggles to elect 1/3 of the legislature each year.

While it’s interesting to talk about how this helps the fortunes of the Democratic and Republican parties, I believe that the more corrosive effect of the Tea Party will be felt when it comes to governing. As we all know from Government 101, The American political system is built around trying to limit the things that government can do. In order for something to pass, the House, Senate and President have to agree on it, and Senators have added yet another hurdle by mandating 60 votes for any significant legislation. Since it is rare for any party to control 60 votes in the Senate, this means that almost nothing can pass unless it has at least some support from both sides of the aisle.

Almost all of the great programs of the past that Americans take for granted passed in bi-partisan ways: Social Security, Medicare, Civil Rights, Environmental Protection. The passage of Health Care Reform this year is a large anomaly, and as has been pointed out by Republican David Frum, was greatly impacted (in a negative way) by Republicans refusal to lend their votes to improve the bill. The legislative deal-making that the Democrats had to go through to pass this bill without a vote to spare was a disgrace and harmed the initial popularity of the reform significantly.

More importantly, America is at a crossroads right now. We face massive debt that is a result of a combination of runaway spending and 3o years of tax cuts. As has been noted previously, taxes are now at the lowest level they have been in 5 years and spending is at it’s highest. Politicians from both sides agree that this is unsustainable. What they disagree about (or more candidly, just refuse to talk about) is how to make the changes to get us closer to balancing the budget.   In two separate articles  written this year by right-leaning economist Robert Samuleson and Obama’s former Director of OMB, Peter Orzag, both look at the consequences of trying to cut deficits by focusing solely on tax increases or by focusing solely on cutting government.    They both reach the similar conclusions: any plan that focuses solely on either revenues or spending would entail either massive tax increases or massive cuts in popular programs such as Medicare, Social Security and national defense, none of which the American people will accept.

With a deficit commission soon to report its recommendations for meaningful deficit reductions, we need pragmatic centrists that are willing to compromise and do what is good for the country more than ever. The last thing we need is a bunch of Tea Partiers who will dig their heels in and refuse to compromise, either because they want tax cuts more than they want deficit reduction, or because they have to constantly look over their shoulder at the possibility that a Tea Party challenger will defeat them in the primary election because they weren’t dogmatic enough. The Tea Party has brought energy to the Republican party, but their lasting legacy may be to bring even more gridlock to our political system.

O’Donnell Loose Ends

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Here’s a few updates on the O’Donnell situation:

PPP’s much anticipated general election poll is out. The survey (taken before the election) gives Chris Coons a 16 point lead over O’Donnell, whereas Castle would have led Coons by 10 points. PPP’s blogger said that it was “the best thing that has happened to the Democrats electorally since 2008.”

Pretty sad when the best thing to happen electorally in two years is an unforced error on the part of an opponent, but like I said before, we’ll take any good news we can get at this point. 

Here’s Steve Kornacki on the impact of the O’Donnell win.

Meanwhile, the most aggressive Tea Party guy in the Senate, South Carolina Senator Jim De Mint confirmed today what we already knew: that he would rather lose the seat than have a moderate Republican take it.

And Politico has now compiled a list of all the baggage that O’Donnell brings to the race. Having it all there in one place is pretty dramatic. Thank You Sarah!

More later on what the de-facto takeover of the Republican party by the Tea Party means for all parties, as well as the dramatic impact it could have on our national politics, but that’s it for tonight.

Lovin the Tea Party Tonight

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Wow. When I posted about Delaware’s Senate Race last night, I didn’t actually think that Delaware Republicans would send their previous governor (who was given a 94% chance of winning the Senate Seat vs. the Democratic nominee) packing for a tea party also-ran who doesn’t seem to have a real job, lied about her eduation, has been accused of using campaign funds to pay her rent and thinks that lots of people are out to get her.

America, meet the new Sharron Angle.

May be too early to say right now, but by taking a sure winner out and replacing him with someone who is running a good 26 points behind, the Republicans sure look like they may have blown their chances at taking the Senate.

Assuming that Delaware doesn’t flip, the Republicans will need to pull an inside straight, winning all of the close races as well as taking seats from incumbents in normally reliably blue states like Washington, California and Wisconsin.

The possibilities that the party would quikly coalesce around O’Donnell seems to have faded, with Mike Castle saying that he did not plan to endorse her and Karl Rove basically ripping her a new one on Fox (much to Hannity’s chagrin). As Rove noted, Republicans  were looking at 8-9 pickups in the Senate, now it looks more like 7-8 seats.

In addition to the O’Donnell fiasco, New York Republicans also nominated a teabagger for Governor who floated a plan to convert some prisons to dorms for welfare recipients who could then be taught hygiene at the prisons. Also, a veritable treasure trove of racist and pornographic e-mails that he apparently sent to close to his entire mailbox is now available for public perusal (warning–not for modest eyes).

In a funny sidenote, I actually recognized some of those e-mails, but in my defense, I was the forwardee, not the forwarder…and I’m not asking for your vote for New York Governor as the nominee of the “family values party.”

Anyway, many more layers of this onion to peel, but in all a pretty good night for the Dems in what is turning out to be an increasingly bizzare election year.

Christine O’ Donnell for Senate!

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Democrats are heartened by a new poll that came out this weekend showing Tea Party Favorite Christine O’ Donnell leading Mike Castle in the Republican primary for Joe Biden’s old Delaware Senate seat by a 3 point margin. 

Castle is a moderate GOP Congressman and former Governor of Delaware who was generally considered a shoe-in for the Senate seat. O’ Donnell is an also-ran whose previous occupations have included conservative issue advocacy, lobbying Congress on moral issues and marketing for Christian movies such as the Passion of the Christ. However, she is probably best known for her public statements in opposition to mastrubation during the 1990′s.

Oh, and she also has a number of reports of financial improprieties in previous campaigns, owes a significant amount of back taxes and apparently has a pretty strong sense of paranoia about people out to get her.

With help from a fat cash infusion from the Tea Party and some magic pixie dust sprinkled by Sarah Palin, O’ Donnell has surged into a lead and made tomorrow’s race too close to call. To get a sense of the impact an O’ Donnell nomination might have on the general election, Nate Silver recently ranked this race as an 94% chance of a Republican pickup, assuming a matchup of Mike Castle and County Executive Chris Coons. If O’Donnel wins, that chance decreases ever so slightly to 16.3%. PPP hasn’t released their general election polling yet, but has indicated that Coons does about 26 points better against O’ Donnell than against Castle.

While some commentators have opined on what bad things this race says about both political parties and the country as a whole, Democrats will take the help wherever they can get it this year.

In the meantime, Delaware Republicans need to decide whether they would rather punish moderates or win elections. In this case, I’m all for the former. 

Sharron Angle has been such a joy to behold this year. Here’s hoping the Tea Party hands us another one tonight.