Here’s what’s rich about the continuing back-and-forth between Karl Rove and Christine O’Donnell: The most significant concern about O’Donnell is the argument that conservatives should ignore qualifications and personal flaws as long as a candidate checks the right ideological boxes. Well, what candidate benefited from that calculus more than Rove’s pet project George W. Bush?
With the additional benefit of his family name, Bush was advanced past more qualified conservatives all the way to the White House. Then for eight years, we were supposed to ignore concerns about Bush’s policies, competence, and basic coherence. But he clears brush! We’re at war! He’s a good man!
Despite winning two presidential elections, the Bush years proved more damaging to the Republican Party than Christine O’Donnell’s Senate campaign could ever be, win or lose. Without them, it is impossible to imagine a president as liberal as Barack Obama and such large Democratic majorities ever getting elected. And it is precisely because of the 2006 and 2008 elections that conservatives are in the position of worrying whether they’d be better off with a single senatorial nomination going to O’Donnell or liberal Republican Mike Castle.