O’Donnell’s Surprise Win

September 15th, 2010 at 5:38 am David Frum | 38 Comments |

| Print

Christine O’Donnell points out: “They also said that Ronald Reagan was unelectable.” Which inspires one more reprise of the great line of the novelist David Eddie:

They laughed at the Wright brothers. Of course, they also laughed at all the people before the Wright brothers, the ones who jumped off cliffs frantically waving their wooden wings or clutching their propeller beanies.

Recent Posts by David Frum



38 Comments so far ↓

  • Slide

    When something happens over and over again is it still a surprise? The teabaggers have taken over the GOP. Kentucky, Nevada, Alaska, and now Delaware.

  • mpolito

    I agree with David on this one. DE is not like KY, or NV, or AK, all of which are red or purple states. It is a blue state. That is why we should have a moderate candidate. At the end of the day, however, primaries are how we pick candidates, and you’ve got to be able to win them. It is unfortunate that Castle could not do so, but that’s the way our politics are.

    However, now that the primary season is mercifully behind us, can we focus on getting Republicans elected? Can we please bury the hatchet? Some people, including the Tea Party folks, seem to take more joy in attacking their own party than they do the Democrats. If they want to nominate these sorts of candidates, they need to put their money and energy where their mouth is. The party is like a baseball team that does not always agree about which pitcher to put in during the 7th inning, but obviously wants to win the game. We are now in the playoff season, so let’s make the most of it.

  • midcon

    It’s all good. Unless O’Donnell does a radical shift to the center between now and November, her opponent should fare well in the election. The GOP is well on it’s way to being marginalized. Even during a period where there is a backlash vote against the dominate party, most people have limits. Castle probably would have handily won in November because of the backlash against the Dems. Now those voters will have to really think hard about how angry they are. It should be interesting.

  • TJ Parker

    Palin, Bachmann, O’Donnell: am I the only one that sees this as the revenge of the high-school mean-girls? New proof that that old cheerleader swagger can indeed take you beyond homecoming queen!

    But puhleeze, don’t let this 40-year-old virgin lecture me on sexuality from the Senate.

  • anniemargret

    There is no more ‘moderation’ within the GOP. It is and has been pulled to the far right for a long time now.

    O’Donnell appears to be articulate and attractive and despite her checkered history of dishonesty, all she keeps having to do is deny, obfuscate, deny, obfuscate…

    The problem are her beliefs. Like other Tea Party leaders they are full of bromides against ‘spending’ and their cherished absurdity, ‘no taxes, ever!’

    O’Donnell actually said this morning in a televised interview, ‘we need to take our country back.’ From what? A democratically elected President who won handedly and represented push-back against the Bush/Cheney years of fiscal irresponsibility, reckless wars, corporatism? Or perhaps their belief that white middle class America is now slowly being forced to accept the ‘other’ – minorities with dark skin or other religious beliefs that can live alongside their own? Either way, they sound extremist and the majority of Americans in this country do not think or want their extremism.

    What is she offering in its place? Nothing. The same/old tired Palin/Beck push against ‘socialism’ as if this country doesn’t want some social programs that have enhanced us as a nation rather than has taken us down. It appears she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

    I just read David Brooks article from the WaPo about present day Republicanism and the tea party movement. I am not a conservative (a few streaks of it here and there), but if I were a Republican now, I would be reading his column as required homework. He gives good advice and solemn warnings against the tea party sloganeering and useless ideology. Otherwise non-extremist Republicanism is on a slippery slope into the abyss.

  • anniemargret

    tjparker: “Palin, Bachmann, O’Donnell: am I the only one that sees this as the revenge of the high-school mean-girls? New proof that that old cheerleader swagger can indeed take you beyond homecoming queen! But puhleeze, don’t let this 40-year-old virgin lecture me on sexuality from the Senate.”

    What is amazing, TJ is that anyone with a little common sense, (if there were any left in the GOP), can see quite clearly that the next generation does not embrace the tea party ideals. They are much more liberal on social issues, particularly same sex mariage, birth control, pre-marital sex, environmentalism, anti-religious bigotry, and admit that they want and need the social safety nets that have been in place since FDR to continue for their own benefit.

    So the tea party shoots itself in the foot time after time. They appear to represent a throwback to a 50s America that is long gone. They can do this of course, but the young people of today who are going well into the 21st century with high tech and a global awareness are going to find their ideas antiquated and non-productive.

  • jabbermule

    You guys are all missing the point—if Castle and the DE GOP had taken the high road and run a clean, respectful campaign, they would have run away with the nomination. Instead, they used relentless ad hoc personal attacks and turned O’Donnell into some kind of underdog folk hero.

  • Stewardship

    It is pure BS that there are no moderates left in the party. The problem is moderation…moderates, almost by definition, don’t get angry, don’t get too enthusiastic, and don’t mobilize. In primaries–especially in years when so many people are disgusted with politics/economics as usual–moderates stay home and sit on their hands.

    Meanwhile, the folks with pitchforks and torches storm the polling stations and win elections.

    If the GOP does not change its presidential primary system, where Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina effectively pick our nominee, we could very well end up with someone like O’Donnell or Palin as our nominee. If that happens, we could see the first truly viable independent candidate make a run for president.

  • jabbermule

    anniemargret // Sep 15, 2010 at 8:16 am:

    “…the next generation does not embrace the tea party ideals. They are much more liberal on social issues, particularly same sex mariage, birth control, pre-marital sex, environmentalism, anti-religious bigotry”

    Good grief, Annie, how many times do I have to tell you? THIS is what the Tea Party stands for, nothing more, nothing less:

    1) Limited government through strict adherence to the Constitution
    2) Support of free market capitalism
    3) Fiscal responsibility

    They take NO STAND on social issues; otherwise, they would be divided on many of them, such as abortion and gay marriage. They are a LIBERTARIAN organization, and that includes SOCIAL libertarianism. You’re welcome to argue with me on the fiscal libertarian ideas anytime you want, and feel free to attack limited government, capitalism and reigning in spending. I’ll be sure to respond.

    I’m going to copy and paste this statement from a Word doc every time I see you and anyone else try to make that erroneous claim.

  • CO Independent

    This is not the fault of the Tea Party. This is the fault of the Republican Party, and particularly the dysfunctional moderate Republican Party establishment for whom Frum carries water.

    Here are Mike Castle’s ACU ratings for the last 10 years:
    2009: 56
    2008: 28
    2007: 20
    2006: 52
    2005: 28
    2004: 59
    2003: 52
    2002: 40

    By 2005, and certainly by 2008, it should have been clear to Republican Party leadership that Castle’s voting record is not consistent with Republican Party principles and that he needed to get his act together or he would face a primary challenger supported by the Party. The Republican Party won’t do this because, like a lot of Frummies, they seem to believe that a political party can exist without any principles as long as individual politicians are winning elections. Ergo, you got a primary challenger not of the Republican Party’s choosing.

    Good riddance to Castle and if it costs the Senate seat I am fine with that. Give Castle’s ACU ratings there will be at most a marginal difference between Castle and a Democrat in the seat. That marginal difference is not worth the damage done to the Republican Party brand by having people like Castle in the party.

  • jabbermule

    Slide // Sep 15, 2010 at 6:42 am:

    “When something happens over and over again is it still a surprise? The teabaggers have taken over the GOP. Kentucky, Nevada, Alaska, and now Delaware.”

    Look out, Slide, here comes the crazy Teabagger hoard with torches and pitchforks, and they’re much scarier than Islamic terrorists. They’re going to force you to pay lower taxes, balance state and federal budgets, make you start a successful business with fewer regulations, support the private sector so those 17% of unemployed/underemployed people can find a meaningful career, and help you do silly Constitutional things like let you do whatever you want with your personal property (like burning a flag or a book), speak out against (or for) anything you want without being shouted down by the PC police, and help you maintain your right to own a gun (but only if you really want to). Freedom is such a horrible thing.

    And scary.

  • CO Independent

    Should have completed that sequence.
    2001: 48
    2000: 68

  • Fairy Hardcastle

    Who is David Eddie?

  • sdspringy

    Of course the Dem/Libs are so middle of the road. Obama’s agenda has been so left wing, driven by the likes Alinsky, but thats middle of the road now for the Lefties.

    In fact the tax cheat Rangle wins, not a stunner really since the Dems were more than willing even to back the likes of “freezer cashman William Jefferson”.

    So you have one political party that actually has some expectations, while the other would put a criminal in office, if electable of course, to further their agenda.

    And Stewardship lets not forget, moderates don’t have a position until its defined by a majority. That majority maybe either party really because moderates just want to appear to have worked with someone on something.

    And in 08 McCain was the moderate, the guy willing to support amnesty, the maverick, who was willing to select Joe Lieberman as his running mate. How much more moderate do you need??
    Did he win?? Moderates never win anything, except a local election, on the nation level they limp.

  • Carney

    anniemargret, young people are often disproportionately liberal. Then they grow up and realize that lifestyle liberalism ruins lives, that taxation and litigation kills jobs, that weakness invites crime and aggression, and that attractive successful Western societies cannot survive as such when overwhelmed by mass immigration from elsewhere.

  • dafyd

    jabbermule,
    You may be half right, but what about the Sarah Palins, Michelle Bachmanns, Jim Demints, Tom Trancredo??? What about the birthers? They are part of the tea party. Just like Annie implied that all of the tea partiers are about social issues, You are writing that all the tea partiers are not. You could deny it all you want, but that ugly fact is not going to change.

    And about your list, check out number (1) I have heard some talk to change the constitution from those who you support no matter what it is they do or dont to. Of course they only talk like that to get elected and they know they could get away with it b/c people like you (both sides) let them.

    The only republican who has offered (very little) some kind of solutions is Rep. Paul. The only one. The rest have been telling us how we need to take our country back. Maybe you could anwser the qusestion I have been waiting for almost two years TO WHEN? the last eight years, or the 90s, 80s, 70s,…….Is there even an anwser to that STUPID statement. And when are you and others going to get tired of cheering when you hear that statement?

  • Fairy Hardcastle

    Dafyd, horror of horrors, Americans are actually thinking about amending their Constitution. Do you know how many state legislatures have passed resolutions to initiate a constitutional convention? The establishment (primarily liberal democrats) fears this above all else. Imagine, the people actually getting together and deciding something for themselves.

  • abj

    CO Independent –

    Good riddance to Castle and if it costs the Senate seat I am fine with that. Give Castle’s ACU ratings there will be at most a marginal difference between Castle and a Democrat in the seat.

    This talking point is simply false. Castle is to the right of every House Democrat (including Tea Party-endorsed Walt Minnick in Idaho), and if Castle were in the Senate last year, the healthcare bill would not have passed. Coons, on the other hand would have voted for it. Is that just a “marginal” detail to you?

  • jabbermule

    dafyd // Sep 15, 2010 at 9:31 am:

    “What about the birthers? They are part of the tea party.”

    No, they’re not. Not from an official standpoint. Not even close. If they want to show up at rallies and act like morons, well, it’s a free country, but they’re much like the idiots you see at liberal rallies with “Bush=Hitler” signs. You’ve got 9/11 truthers and nutbags like Cindy Sheehan in the Democratic Party, but they’re not representative of the social-liberal movement.

  • dafyd

    jabbermule,
    Armey: A GOP Majority Will Fight to Ban Abortion
    By: Charles Johnson • Politics • Sep 14, 2010 at 12:09 pm PDT

    Tea Party Dick Armey says that if the GOP takes control of Congress in the mid-term election, they’re going to fight hard to take away women’s rights to safe, legal abortions.

    What were you saying about the tea party and social issues?
    littlegreenfootballs.com has the story.

  • jabbermule

    dafyd // Sep 15, 2010 at 10:00 am

    “Tea Party Dick Armey says that if the GOP takes control of Congress in the mid-term election, they’re going to fight hard to take away women’s rights to safe, legal abortions.”

    The Dick Armey quote is about ending GOVERNMENT FUNDING of abortions. Period. And that falls under the category of fiscal responsibility. If you want an abortion, pay for it yourself and don’t expect any of your fellow citizens to foot the bill for your irresponsible behavior.

    And wwwlittlegreenfootballs.com is a whack job left-wing website that distorts the truth. Try getting your information from more reliable sources from now on.

  • Fairy Hardcastle

    Dafyd,

    Until the laughable decision of Roe v. Wade is overruled, the most that reasonable people can do is somewhat limit late-term abortions, require clinics to meet appropriate medical safety standards, protect conscientious objectors in the medical profession, and require all abortionists to show the mother a 3D sonogram of her baby boy or girl.

    You got a problem with that?

  • Fairy Hardcastle

    Dafyd, and I forgot, treat all aborted born alive boys and girls as full persons deserving of all legal protections and not a cold “comfort” room to slowly die in. And of course Jabbermule,s point about funding which is clearly supported by most Americans.

  • CO Independent

    >> Castle is to the right of every House Democrat (including Tea Party-endorsed Walt Minnick in Idaho)
    Not so much. Minnick’s House ACU rating in 2009 was 44. Castle’s last two ACU ratings in the House were 20 and 28. When the Democrats took the majority, Castle voted with the Democrats.

    >> and if Castle were in the Senate last year, the healthcare bill would not have passed.
    That’s not a particularly safe bet given Castle’s voting record.

    >> Coons, on the other hand would have voted for it. Is that just a “marginal” detail to you?
    In the big picture, yes. The healthcare bill can be repealed. The Republican party cannot be successful when it accommodates members with voting records like Castle.

    But your snarky retort doesn’t address my point. Why didn’t the Republican establishment set Castle straight in 2005-2008, or present their own primary challenger?

  • jabbermule

    Good grief, with all the free publicity O’Donnell is getting here—3 blogs, and 5 if you count “The Real Winner of the Republican Primaries” and “Cannibals Against Cannibalism” articles—she should put a link to FrumForum on her campaign website.

  • abj

    In the big picture, yes. The healthcare bill can be repealed. The Republican party cannot be successful when it accommodates members with voting records like Castle.

    Right, it can be repealed, but you do realize that’ll take a Republican president, 60 votes in the Senate, and a majority in the House? If you think purging Republicans like Castle in states that usually vote for Democrats is the way to secure 60 Republican senators, you’re engaging in magical thinking.

    But your snarky retort doesn’t address my point. Why didn’t the Republican establishment set Castle straight in 2005-2008, or present their own primary challenger?

    I actually don’t disagree with your point. I think Castle could’ve, and should’ve, been pushed a bit further to the right. It should have been made abundantly clear to him well before Waxman-Markey came to the House floor for a vote that voting in favor would be unacceptable.

    Look, he’s to my left. But, the thing is, this isn’t 2005. We are where we are – and I don’t think putting forth fatally flawed nominees is a way to build a durable electoral majority.

    I should also add that the snark on my part is unnecessary, because your posts are reasonable. I am just frustrated with this recent turn of events.

  • pampl

    If you think littlegreenfootballs is left-wing then you have a very inaccurate understanding of what the wings are in US politics.

  • dafyd

    Ok, you dont know my position on that issue, but its not even abortion, I am trying to point out that there are certain people that will over look the bad about their party even if it will evenually hurt them. I cant even imagine calling myself a demorcat. I dont understand how it is easy for me to call out the left even go so far not as to not consider myself a demorcat or a liberal, but it is so hard for you to agknowledge the bad in your party.
    Over and over you find ways to write back (selectively) making excuses or bring something up that has nothing to do with what I am writing about. That has been the patteren the far right have been doing for a long time, ignoring the lies, the deflecting your Pols have been doing by saying how much they love the constitution but offering no solutions, and calling people who you desagree with a RINO, or whack job left-winger is just hurting your party, and giving moderates like me no one to vote for.

  • cdorsen

    I think establishment GOP should take this win to heart. Maybe the Tea Party won’t win over the nation, but the RINO wing of the GOP won’t win either. If the GOP really wants to gain power again, it’s going to have to listen to its base which is saying small government, low taxes, and Constitutional government. Maybe it’s time to pick candidates that adhere to that and are electable? Chris Christie comes to mind.

  • jabbermule

    dafyd // Sep 15, 2010 at 10:49 am:

    “…giving moderates like me no one to vote for.”

    Did you vote for Obama? He pretended to be ‘moderate’ during the campaign, but he clearly isn’t…do you prefer deception over honesty?

  • CO Independent

    >> Right, it can be repealed, but you do realize that’ll take a Republican president, 60 votes in the Senate, and a majority in the House? If you think purging Republicans like Castle in states that usually vote for Democrats is the way to secure 60 Republican senators, you’re engaging in magical thinking.

    Not necessarily. It will not be repealed en-toto. Rather, it will be repealed and revised bit-by-bit. I think you will even see moderate Dems supporting a piecemeal repeal as they see independent support for the Democrats waning. Wyden is already walking back the cat.

    >> I actually don’t disagree with your point. I think Castle could’ve, and should’ve, been pushed a bit further to the right. It should have been made abundantly clear to him well before Waxman-Markey came to the House floor for a vote that voting in favor would be unacceptable.
    Absolutely, agreed. Republican Party leadership was completely checked out.

    >> Look, he’s to my left. But, the thing is, this isn’t 2005. We are where we are – and I don’t think putting forth fatally flawed nominees is a way to build a durable electoral majority.
    Look, if you want to make an omelet you have to crack a few eggs. Castle was a pretty damn good egg to crack. Hopefully this will be the high-water mark–the event that shakes up the Republican party establishment. I’m not holding my breath.

    >> I should also add that the snark on my part is unnecessary, because your posts are reasonable.
    Thanks.

  • dafyd

    No he [Obama] portrayed himself as a liberal and has been governing as a moderate…. No matter what Fox News tells you, he is not a far left Pol. If he was, Robert Gibbs would not be so upset with the “Professional Left”

    I was looking to support McCain (wanted him in 2000 and 2004) until Sarah Palin came into the picture. And no it was not b/c of the rumors about her personal life, but the things she said or did not say in interviews and speeches. and how she has an ability to say “little white lies”, but more importanly I wanted an intelligent Pol. Call me an elitist, but I do expect those who are in charge to be smarter then me.
    I did do research on the other canidates, BTW, (Romney and Obama). And if Romney was not so willing to please the wrong people I probably would have considered voting for Romeny.

  • Candy83

    I’m posting this here and in Alex Knepper’s “How to Throw Away a Senate seat”: Poll Delaware frequently over the next couple weeks. If Republican “upset” nominee Christine O’Donnell is polling in the mid-40s (say, 43% minimum), then the party will really rally for her.

    O’Donnell is not unelectable under those circumstances because there are major shifts going on in several states that are geographically diverse clearly favoring her party. Pollings I don’t keep up with all the time—but when Gallup revealed a 10% Republican lead, it also meant, supposing both Senate and House at 10% margin of victory, the Senate has been shifting 15.9% nationally toward the GOP (Dems won the Senate in 2008 with 5.9%). Presumed candidate and Rep. Mike Castle was polling in the high-single digits (margins) for the pickup. Joe Biden, on the date [Nov. 4, 2008] he was elected the 47th vice president of the United States, beat Christine O’Donnell by 29.38%. Had Castle been nominated he’d have shifted 40%. And that is a number that’s being shown in a few likely/probable pickups. For example, in Illinois President Barack Obama won his 2004 Senate race (over Alan Keyes) by 42.92%, and Republican nominee and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill. #10) would be shifting and est. 45% to 50% if it turns out he picks up the seat. In Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) won her 2004 re-election by 11.83%. Last polls I’ve seen have her losing in a 2-to-1 margin by GOP challenger and Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark. #03), another estimated, say, 45% shift.

    These are major shifts not so much because of the numbers I’ve thrown out but from the will of the voters. It will be tougher for O’Donnell to flip the Delaware special (for the four years remaining on Biden’s 2008 win). But she’s liable to be polling in the mid-40s% against Democratic nominee and New Castle County Exec Chris Coons. And, if that’s the case, the GOP establishment—whomever they exactly are—will have to get behind her.

    Prior to Tuesday’s [Sept. 14] primaries, Delaware was ranked by Nate Silver as the fourth likeliest (in pecking order) of a Democratic pickoff/Republican pickup. That means one cannot instantly write this off. GOP wants the Senate—so here they must assist.

  • jabbermule

    dafyd // Sep 15, 2010 at 11:42 am:

    “No he [Obama] portrayed himself as a liberal and has been governing as a moderate”

    lol…pass the kool-aid

  • pampl

    edit: sorry for the double post, my internet connection is bad and I was only seeing the first 24 posts.

  • easton

    Wyden is already walking back the cat.

    Sorry, but this is simply not true. Wyden wrote in the bill the provision that if the individual exceeds the mandates within the bill they can go it alone.

    No, there is no way to repeal the provisions of the bill piece by piece because the pieces are overwhelmingly supported (who really wants to go back to rescission and denial of care due to pre-existing conditions, and as to mandates, that is the insurance companies that want that, they will never allow Republicans to do away with that)

  • Rabiner

    Jabbermule:

    I don’t see why you think Obama is so much more liberal than Clinton was in the 1990s. His health care reform was far more conservative than Clinton’s was. Only difference is he got it passed. His tax policies are pretty in line with Clinton as well and anyone who says Clinton was a huge liberal is delusional.