Both conservative and liberal idealogues woke up happy today. Conservatives are energized over the longshot win in the Delaware Senate primary of Christine O’Donnell over sane guy Mike Castle. They’re also elated over Carl Paladino’s successful bid (and I mean that in the auctioneering sense) in the New York GOP gubernatorial race.
To tell you the truth, I’m kind of excited about Paladino. Not that I agree with him about much or care for his personal style (it reminds me too much of my own, and there are reasons I don’t run for office). I think of him like I think of chemotherapy: It’s nothing but poison, but it might just kill the cancer before the cancer kills its host. Anyone who pays taxes to Albany knows what I’m saying.
And, to be honest, Paladino might just as well have run unopposed. The favorite of the New York State Republican Party (to the extent there is one) was Rick Lazio. You might remember this character from the 2000 Senate race. It was supposed to be a race between Rudy Giuliani, still a year away from his star turn, and Hillary Clinton, the most controversial First Lady ever, who bought a house in New York State only months before just so she could run for the seat being vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Rudy vs. Hillary — what a match-up that would’ve been. Nobody could have called it a popularity contest.
But then Rudy got sick with prostate cancer and had to concentrate on getting well. (Apparently being mayor of New York doesn’t require as much focus and stamina as running for Senate.) Rick was brought in as a Dead Shemp for Rudy and promptly got trounced. Although he managed to find a seat on the Suffolk County Legislature in in 1990 and parlay that into four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, this guy is a born loser. He hasn’t won anything since 1998. How bad a pol do you have to be to stand on a stage with Hillary and be the one who comes across as shrill?
O’Donnell is just plain fun to watch. She certainly puts the lie to the notion that the Tea Party is a movement predicated on fiscal responsibility and limited government. This lady is an out-and-out Christianist, whose anti-abortion, anti-gay stands are the bedrock of her political philosophy.
You can’t call her a fiscal conservative. Unlike Paladino, she’s not a successful businessperson. She lists her occupation as “marketing consultant” which, I’m sorry, sounds awfully like “temp”. She’s also a Fox News commentator, but that can’t be steady income either. As a result of her long time between paychecks, she has defaulted on mortgages, been subjected to IRS liens and ended her previous campaigns with nothing in the coffers but IOUs. The regents of Fairleigh Dickinson University don’t consider her fiscally conservative; they held up granting her a degree for more than a decade until she finally paid her tuition.
Excuse me, but isn’t this the kind of person the Tea Party is supposed to run against? She proves the point of those who call out the Teabaggers as right-wingers whose fiscal conservatism is just a pose.
The reason why the liberals are cheering today is that characters like O’Donnell are unelectable in any blue or purple state. Unless you’re in a one-party oblast such as Alaska, like Senate shoe-in Joe Miller is, then you’re not going to make the final cut. And don’t give me the “America likes divided government” horseshit. It’s not true. America doesn’t want gridlock — it wants protection against the loonies on either side. If you have an arch-conservative wingnut in the White House, people want a Democratic Congress. If you have a bushy-bearded, bomb-throwing leftist in the White House, then … well, that’s never actually happened. But Bill Clinton was liberal enough to trigger a GOP takeover of Capitol Hill, even though Carter wasn’t (nor were Kennedy, Truman and FDR).
But, and this might surprise O’Donnell’s viewers on Fox News, but Barack Obama isn’t all that liberal. On health care, he didn’t even bring up single-payer, and didn’t shed any tears when the public option was eliminated. On Wall Street reform, you even have conservatives saying it doesn’t do anything. He embraced cap-and-trade, which was a Republican proposal until he agreed with it. Even though he’s more given to diplomacy than his predecessor, there really isn’t a whole lot of difference between Obama’s military policies and George W. Bush’s, as GOP leaders themselves love to gloat about. We still have don’t-ask-don’t-tell and we still have Gitmo — two things he could’ve dispensed with at the stroke of a pen.
If — and this is a big “if” — Democrats can explain that truth clearly enough to be understood, then you might see what I see: that in 2010, the Republicans peaked to soon.
So enjoy today, conservatives. The morning of November 3 might not be so bright and sunny.