ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Labor Day weekend this year is to Republican panic what Haight-Ashbury in summer 1967 was to "flower power." Here I am off on the other side of the continent to cover Joe Miller's upset of Lisa Murkowski, while everybody back east has suddenly gone zonkers over the Delaware GOP Senate primary.
Mellow out, dudes.
Five weeks ago, I spent a couple of days shadowing Christine O'Donnell and her campaign team at the Right Online Conference and even did a brief video interview with her. She struck me as a perfectly plausible candidate. She's much more conservative -- and incomparably more telegenic -- than Mike Castle. What's not to like?
Yet behold the hysteria she's generated among Republicans who are running amok on the Internet, shouting at the top of their lungs that O'Donnell is the worst thing to happen to the GOP since Spiro Agnew.
Really? Is she that bad? Could anyone be as bad as Mike Castle's supporters say O'Donnell is?
The fundamental problem seems to be two-fold: First, O'Donnell has made some influential enemies over the years, and second, the Castle campaign has lots of hired guns to spread their oppo-research on O'Donnell.
Add to that two recent developments: First, the Tea Party Express, fresh from knocking off Murkowski here in Alaska, has committed serious money to defeating Castle in Delaware and, second, Republicans now think they've got a better-than-even shot at recapturing control of the Senate in November.
All this reminds me of something a Republican operative told me in May 2009, when I was trying to understand why John Cornyn and the NRSC had prematurely endorsed Charlie Crist in Florida. Quoth the operative: "All they care about is getting their chairmanships back, and they don't care how they get there." The various "ranking minority members" of the Senate GOP caucus want their power and they want it now, and they think Mike Castle is their ticket to getting it.
Ergo, to the GOP powers that be, Christine O'Donnell is a problem to be eliminated By Any Means Necessary.
One of two outcomes is possible: Mike Castle wins on Sept. 14, in which case all this psychotic raving about Christine the Dangerous Right-Wing Catastrophe will appear unseemly in retrospect; or O'Donnell wins on Sept. 14, and Democrats will then congratulate themselves that Republicans have already done their dirty work for them.
Mellow out. And stay away from the brown acid.
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