A Sleeping Giant Wakes
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Feast of the Democrats (for explanation, see here)
O’Donnell’s victory in Delaware is already being credited to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Movement, but more credit probably goes to a backlash against a GOP that provided a coronation to a liberal Republican and used vicious and hate-filled tactics against his opponents, that doubtlessly reminded many Republicans of the tactics Democrats were using against Sarah Palin.
I would much rather have had Hayworth knock out McCain, than have O’Donnell knock out Mike Castle. That would have removed one of the Senate’s biggest liberal Republicans, and would have probably given his obnoxious daughter the boot out of the spotlight too. Hayworth was also a much stronger candidate in the general election than O’Donnell will be. But that isn’t the point. The Republican party can’t just “do what we were doing before”, which is exactly what will happen if the Senate Republicans backing Castle had gotten their way. Whether O’Donnell wins and loses, the Battle of Delaware was another strong warning that business as usual cannot go on.
The Delaware primary was ugly, in-state and on the internet. But had the Delaware GOP not backed Castle at all costs, and had Castle’s defenders online actually made an honest case for him (count the number of times that pieces like that mentioned the words Cap and Trade) without treating O’Donnell the way the media had treated Palin, as a crazy laughable nut with ethical problem who isn’t worth mentioning except to make sexist jokes about her, the backlash might never have happened. This was Anti-Insideritis in a big way.
But Castle and his GOP backers couldn’t debate on the issues. The Tea Party had them running scared. So instead they conducted vicious personal attacks against O’Donnell, with their only argument being electability. But the Tea Party turnout was not about party loyalty, it was about wanting real reform. And there’s no way to package Mike Castle as signifying real reform. And without reform as the brand, the GOP may win the Senate, but lost in 2012. And that is the real deal.
Bringing Castle to the Senate would have just given McCain and Graham, someone else to join them in playing bipartisan footsie with Obama. Putting a Democrat in that seat will not be pretty, but for the Republican brand to mean anything, then putting someone like Castle in is even worse. This is not just about 2010, it’s also about 2012 and 2014. It’s about changing the way the government works. And it’s about not just blocking Obama, but showing him and his cronies the door for good.
Delaware is another warning to the GOP that a sleeping giant has woken. And they had better start paying attention. McCain’s turn rightward probably will not hold, but on the other hand having to spend 20 million dollars may have convinced him to tone it down a little. And Delaware may finally convince the Republican party to stop business as usual, and start paying attention. Viral smears, paid commenters and controlling the top 1 percent of the blogsphere is not enough. You actually have to win the war of ideas, or lose it all.
The media, which always loves falling back on their last tactic, is treating Christine O’Donnell as the new Sarah Palin. But there’s one problem with their lame attacks, which is that O’Donnell’s statements about sexuality that they’re highlighting are conventional Catholic ones. The media can bash O’Donnell for them, but not without attacking the Catholic Church itself. But they’re dishonestly pretending that they’re the eccentric views of a single woman, rather than the position of a global religious movement which covers a whole lot of America.
Still the Dems know their best chance isn’t on policy, it’s on portraying the Republican party as crazy, extremist and dangerous. If they can’t get voters to vote for them because they like them, they hope to at least get voters to vote them as the lesser evil. Except they might be overestimating the degree to which voters are currently interested in “moderation”. The media can character assassinate Palin or O’Donnell, but it can’t change voter dissatisfaction. And constant establishment attacks at a time when the public is dissatisfied with the establishment can have the opposite effect of the one intended, as Castle found out.
Maybe that’s why the Tea Party Movement is moving beyond the United States. Because it’s a stand in for a larger trend in the First World, Euroskeptics in Europe and small government advocates in the US question federalism and centralization. The Tea Party movement is the populist expression of those concerns in America.
So Colbert and Stewart and the left wing snark machine can belatedly chug into motion, a month too late, to mock the Restoring Honor rally, and all that accomplishes is the elitists amusing the elitists, while the Louvre burns.