I have a new rightwing heroine, displacing the finger-wagging shill from Wasilla - not only in the audacity of her hustle, but grotesqueries, emptiness of resume, instability, and distinctively less life, career and relationship experience. Right, getting fired, your house foreclosed, then sued twice qualifies as an experience, but is it the right prep for bigtime politics?
Now, comrades, being distinctively less qualified, plus out-lying Sarah Palin, is no mean fling, but Christine O'Donnell is on a divine mission. Compared to the Wasilla Sex Charmer, O'Donnell only dabbled "with witchcraft" and she is more fluid in speech and reads whole books (okay, kids fantasy). She also dishes out enough bizarre, cringe-filled media moments (gloriously on tape, forever), to write her own book, say "The UnCandidate: Unprepared and Incorrect." No ghostwriters needed.
For herein stands O'Donnell's ultimate historic importance: by hook or by crook she has managed to reverse every traditional standard for high political office. For centuries, every viable politician, however craven, presented a veneer of truthiness, worldly feats, pertinent experiences, and talents beyond "look at me" PR stunts. Not any more.
O'Donnell looms on the Senate doorstep by offering exactly what nervous rightwinger, Peggy Noonan, most fears about the Tea Party: the destructive descent into "a corrosive populism that celebrates unknowingness as authenticity, that confuses showiness with seriousness and vulgarity with true conviction." Way past the masturbation kerfuffle, lying about your education, or paranoia about enemies in your bushes. One struggles to find another major party senate nominee in the modern era with so little job preparation, other than rightwing Republicans think she's cute as button - and just as easy to manipulate.
Further, what better proves her independence than giving her own party establishment the finger - and getting it returned, per Think Progress, in spades:
The Delaware GOP -- which refused to list O'Donnell on their website of candidates -- pulled no punches, calling O'Donnell "reckless," "hypocritical," and "dishonest." State GOP Chairman Tom Ross blasted O'Donnell as a "troubled perennial candidate" who is "not electable in Delaware or anywhere else for that matter," even for the position of "dog catcher." He also accused her campaign of running on "half-truths and outright lies." Later, Ross implied O'Donnell was "delusional," and on Monday, Ross called her "kooky," and said most voters are "laughing" about her candidacy. That's a "good thing," Ross added.
Wow, and from your own crowd. There's something truly ground-breaking, or profoundly stupid, in this gamble: will spurning every norm for character, competence and creditability work? Compare O'Donnell to Alaska's no-name Tea Partier, Joe Miller, proud owner of an honors West Point degree, Bronze Star for war-time bravery, fancy law degree (from Yale, that elitist!), and service as U.S. Magistrate Judge. Throw in his family, eight kids, M.A. in economics, and an untarnished character (so far) - now that patriot stands for the "values voter."
Hell, Joe the Plumber owed fewer people, brought more career skills and lies mendacity to celebrity cluelessness. Plus, he didn't view life as a grand hustle until the befuddled McCain made him a star. What does O'Donnell know about the law (for a lawmaking body), or what executive, management or business skills come to mind (other than avoiding bill collectors)? That she professed a BA degree a decade too early, then faked a Princeton graduate application, then lied about recorded election results - well, to echo the last line from Some Like it Hot, "nobody's perfect."
As Jack Palladino, an old friend and the world's best private investigator, once quipped, "The only way to really know when you've crossed the line is to cross the line." Other equally reactionary dim bulbs, like senators from Oklahoma and South Carolina, worked up skill-sets and understand politics is a craft demanding training in comparable roles, even dogcatcher. Except for Princess Palin, no other politician has advanced so far by what she didn't know other than the methodology of abstinence.
Atop the Confederacy of Hustlers
An O'Donnell win proves anyone can run for anything: you don't need no stinkin' merit badges or qualified resume, no character references (quite the contrary), only "values movement" sound bites and a solid born-again redemption history. Born Catholic, the sinner lapsed badly in college (sexual promiscuity and drugs, oh my!) then, guilt-ridden, went whole-hog born-again Protestant, only to recycle herself back in the devout Catholic fold.
Such gyrations fit the classic lost hustler bio, not knowing who you are, trying out every else's coat to see how it fits. Finally finding an objective that fit her insatiable ambition, she upgrades the salvation narrative to tie loose ends. Like W. Only recently she blithely merged success with nothing less than divine will: "During the primary, I heard the audible voice of God. He said, 'Credibility.' It wasn't a thought in my head." What thoughts are in your head, then? How did God inform you, osmosis?
How simple, delightful, how convenient. How scary. Electing this empty vessel, replenished by the audible voice of God (in stereo?), fulfills historian Nancy L. Cohen's parade of horrors: "If you liked Rovian anti-gay marriage referendums, the Terry Schiavo saga, anti-abortion litmus tests for diplomatic service in a war zone, and creationism in the Grand Canyon bookstore, you'll love this season's Tea Party candidates."
Strangely enough, O'Donnell does holier-than-thou less offensively than Palin, and I admire the magnitude of her audacity, her up-from-nowhere, screw-the-system scheme. Nor would we puzzle for a second why an academically-blunted, relationship-challenged, sound-bite-bitten, religious hustler made up her own self-serving career when she couldn't find a real job. Mooching off political donors is better than starving and shows something, though electability doesn't come to mind.
Prohibition in a Tea Party