Conservatives gang up on Tea Party favorite as Ruling Class issue rises.
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This is a pluperfect description of the Mike Castle candidacy, and if I may say so about our friends at the WSJ and NRO on this particular issue of Christine O’Donnell.
Codevilla summons a telling anecdote to illustrate this problem as it is displayed in Republican circles.
Former “Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev tells us that in 1987 then vice president George H.W. Bush distanced himself from his own administration by telling him, “Reagan is a conservative, an extreme conservative. All the dummies and blockheads are with him…”
Adds Codevilla in describing this kind of stunning remark from Reagan’s own vice president: “This is all about a class of Americans distinguishing itself from its inferiors. It recalls the Pharisee in the Temple: ‘Lord, I thank thee that I am not like other men.’”
This, precisely, appears to be what’s going on in some quarters of the conservative movement and the Republican Party with the Christine O’Donnell candidacy — and before that the Senate candidacies of Sharron Angle in Nevada, Joe Miller in Alaska, and Mike Lee in Utah.
There appears to be a Ruling Class take on all these candidates, of which Christine O’Donnell is but the latest. Read the criticisms of O’Donnell again from the WSJ and NRO in the light of Codevilla’s startling X-ray of the current state of American politics:
WSJ: “A two-time loser statewide, Ms. O’Donnell has a history of financial troubles and recently told the Weekly Standard her home and office were vandalized, though she hadn’t reported it to police. She recently accused a conservative local talk radio host that he had been “paid off” by Mr. Castle’s supporters after he asked her tough questions.”
NRO (Geraghty): “With Christine O’Donnell, all we have are promises. We can’t evaluate her on her record in elected office because she has no record. O’Donnell seems determined to begin her political career by winning a U.S. Senate seat; she has never served in a local board of education, town or city council, state legislature, etc. Her next general-election victory will be her first.”
NRO (Goldberg): “I don’t know that much about Delaware, but people I trust say that Castle may well be the best we can hope for there.” And: “Also, it’s worth pointing out that we want more liberal Republicans, we just want them to replace Democrats. If Northeast Republicans have to be more liberal than Southwest ones to win, that’s okay.”
NRO (Foster): “Forty Jim DeMints or 60 Lindsey Grahams? Forty Christine O’Donnell’s or 60 Mike Castles?” and “So, again: would conservatives in Delaware rather win, or send a message?”
NRO (Stuttaford): “As for the idea that reducing the GOP to a rump of true believers (whatever that might actually mean: there are plenty on the right who interpret the terms “limited government” and “free people” in very different ways) is the essential first step in a Republican restoration, it is, I am afraid, a bad mistake. Wildernesses are, almost always, for losers.”
If I may say respectfully, all of this is Ruling Class reasoning par excellence. What is interesting is that William F. Buckley, Jr. is being cited by both NRO’s Goldberg and the Wall Street Journal as supporting “the most conservative candidate who could win” in the Journal’s phrase. In fact, Buckley didn’t follow his own advice. He supported Barry Goldwater for the 1964 GOP presidential nomination over Republicans Nelson Rockefeller and Henry Cabot Lodge, either of whom, if nominated, would surely have managed a better race against the more liberal Lyndon Johnson than Goldwater, who carried a mere five states. Buckley personally challenged liberal Republican Congressman John Lindsay for the New York mayoralty in 1965. Lindsay was the Mike Castle of New York City — yet Buckley plowed ahead, winning 13.4% of the vote and ignoring pleas he might cost Lindsay the election.
It must be said here that the reason Ms. O’Donnell is a “two-time loser” is that she had the guts to take on up-hill Senate races in the first place. Where was Mike Castle when it was time to challenge Democrat incumbent Senator Tom Carper in 2006? Where was Castle when it was time to challenge Biden in 2008 — when Biden was playing the Ruling Class game and had a ballot spot for both re-election to the Senate and on Obama’s ticket as vice president? Answer? Not running. Why? Because the man who so much wants to be a United States Senator from Delaware didn’t want to mar his reputation with a loss — thus enabling some Ruling Class writer to describe Castle as a “two-time statewide loser.” Such things are important in Ruling Class circles, and the fact that O’Donnell paid no heed and took on Delaware’s political goliaths Carper and Biden anyway is a sign of Country Class guts.
So too is the treatment of mistakes or personal problems treated differently, a Ruling Class trait that dates at least since the so-called “Nixon’s Fund” issue of 1952. The fact that Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson had a similar fund (in which contributors paid for political travel expenses and the like) was a big no-deal to the Ruling Class. It was Nixon who had the “scandal” and was forced to go on national television to save his candidacy. This trait has surfaced repeatedly since. Ruling Class candidates can catch a pass for everything from Chappaquiddick (Ted Kennedy) to the Keating Five (John McCain and John Glenn) to plagiarism (Joe Biden) to questionable financing of real estate deals (Obama) — and hey, no problem. If you’re Christine O’Donnell or any other Country Class candidate, this is used as an example of un-electability if not bad character or worse. The interesting fact that her tax problems with the IRS says bad things to the Ruling Class and is seen as yet one more sign of an average American’s struggles with government is a decided telling point in the difference in perception between Ruling Class and Country Class.
Both the Goldwater presidential run and the Buckley mayoralty race, ironically, are direct refutations to Castle’s conservative supporters. Carrying five states in a race for president and 13.4% in a run for mayor — particularly in the latter case when Republican nominee Lindsay in fact won the election — are the political ancestors of the Castle-O’Donnell argument.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?