TAG | Christine O’Donnell
Ms. O’Donnell makes very explicit one of the aspects of contemporary right-wing populism. On the one hand it is surely true that the American Elite Establishment has become stagnant and calcified. On the other hand, do we really want Average Joes in the halls of Congress? Where only 25% of the American have a university degree, 99% of the Senate does (Mark Begich being the exception). Good or bad? My heart leans toward elitism, but my head isn’t so sure.
Cross-posted from the Corner:
It’s not every day that I give thanks to the folks over at the Huffington Post, but today is one of those days. Take it away, Sam Stein:
…A spokesperson for the neopagan network “The Witches’ Voice” who goes by the name “Diotima Mantineia” reached out to the Huffington Post to offer further condemnation of O’Donnell’s initial witchcraft remarks. Making the point that there is a “very large pagan community in Delaware,” Mantineia called the Delaware Republican’s conflation of witchcraft and Satanism “disappointing.”
Perfect at so many levels
No, of course not, but Republicans hoping for a GOP win in Delaware do now have to deal with this:
O’DONNELL: I dabbled into witchcraft — I never joined a coven. But I did, I did. … I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things. I’m not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do. […] One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn’t know it. I mean, there’s little blood there and stuff like that. … We went to a movie and then had a midnight picnic on a satanic altar.
I suppose this could be the moment to post something terribly, terribly brows-furrowed about the rather interesting role that witchcraft and Satanism play in the modern American evangelical drama (small ‘e’ in O’Donnell’s case: she was certainly raised a Roman Catholic, and then I believe became an evangelical before eventually returning to Catholicism), but that is to make more out of this particular ‘confession’ than it (or her Democratic opponent) deserves.
I suspect that Ann Althouse’s response is (more or less) the correct one to take:
…Did O’Donnell ever practice witchcraft? I doubt it. Even in the out-of-context clip, I’m seeing a young woman trying to get the hipper kids to believe she isn’t really a complete square. In the story she tells, she went out with someone who, she thought, was into Satanism, and they had a picnic. A picnic! Even when she’s straining to sound cool, she’s square.
4. But she “dabbled into” witchcraft — doesn’t that mean she did some witchcraft things? Frankly, I don’t think she knows what “dabbled” means. The use of the wrong preposition is a hint. I think she means something more like she stumbled into witchcraft. She knew some people who did such things, and I’ll bet the point she was making was that she was able to be friends with them, that she hasn’t spent her whole life cocooned in squeaky clean conservative religion and she’s able to relate to a wide variety of people.
5. Even if she had participated in some witchcraft, she’d only be like thousands of other young people who dabble in such nonsense. Do you want to string them all up? It’s typical pop culture junk these days.
I wouldn’t be quite as quick as Professor Althouse to dismiss witchcraft as “typical pop culture junk”. It can be that, and it’s certainly nonsense, but the revival of interest in Wicca (and the like) is too interesting a phenomenon to be dismissed as just a mere fad. But so far as O’Donnell’s apparent “dabbling” in witchcraft is concerned, the good professor is right, move on, there’s nothing to see here.
O’DONNELL: They are — they are doing that here in the United States. American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains. So they’re already into this experiment.
Krauthammer: You don’t stop [the Obama] agenda by nominating an O’Donnell in Delaware and turning a Senate seat from safe Republican to safe Democratic. If DeMint and Palin want to show that helping O’Donnell over the top — she won late and by six points — wasn’t a capricious spreading of fairy dust, perhaps they should go to Delaware now and get her elected to the Senate. You made it possible. Now make it happen. I would be happy to be proved wrong about O’Donnell’s electability — I want Republicans to win that 51st seat. Stay in Delaware and show us you were right. The beaches are said to be lovely in the fall.
Gingrich: “Sen. Jim DeMint and Gov. Palin deserve enormous credit [for O’Donnell’s win]…”
Perhaps Newt could go to Delaware too.
One reason that Delaware’s best-known GOP candidate will have such a mountain to climb in the general election is the emergence of fresh embarrassments like these comments (via New York magazine today) from a 1996 debate on whether creationism should be taught alongside evolution:
CHRISTINE O’DONNELL, Concerned Women for America: Well, as the senator from Tennessee mentioned, evolution is a theory and it’s exactly that. There is not enough evidence, consistent evidence to make it as fact, and I say that because for theory to become a fact, it needs to consistently have the same results after it goes through a series of tests. The tests that they put — that they use to support evolution do not have consistent results. Now too many people are blindly accepting evolution as fact. But when you get down to the hard evidence, it’s merely a theory.
Yes, but…Oh, never mind. Well, how about creationism, then?
CHRISTINE O’DONNELL: Well, creationism, in essence, is believing that the world began as the Bible in Genesis says, that God created the Earth in six days, six 24-hour periods. And there is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting that.
You can bet your bottom taxpayer dollar that O’Donnell’s Democratic opponent will do everything that he can to keep voters focussed on the Republican candidate’s more exotic, uh, issues. After all, it sure beats talking about government bloat, rising taxation, a faltering recovery and all the rest of those topics that the Democrats would much rather avoid.
And we can also be sure that O’Donnell’s triumph has made it easier to portray Republicans elsehere in a similar light.
As I said, DeMint’s choice.
Update: Ignore this post. I was wrong, it looks as if Christine O’Donnell had an evangelical phase, and if my chronology is correct she was an evangelical Protestant Christian when this video was made. She later converted back to Roman Catholicism.
The Economist points out the strangeness of Christine O’Donnell, Republican candidate for the Senate from Delaware, of promoting Creationism, when as a Roman Catholic there’s no religious necessity for her to do so. Now, there’s no reason that a Catholic can’t be a Creationist, but I think Christine O’Donnell’s attitude makes more sense when you listen to her inveighing against masturbation:
She speaks like a Protestant, making explicit reference to the Bible many times. Intellectual American Catholics are wont to observe that while Protestants believe in the Bible (at least Low Church Protestants), Catholics believe in the Church (granted, Catholics obviously believe in the Bible as well, but do not adhere to the notion of sola scriptura). I think O’Donnell’s idiosyncrasies are totally understandable in light of the assimilation of American religionists to specific subcultures, whatever their notional sect. American Roman Catholicism has long been “Protestant” in its orientation on a de facto level. While liberal Catholics align with mainline Protestants and use the language of social justice, conservative populist Catholics like Christine O’Donnell use the language of evangelical Protestants, for whom everything is “Biblically based.”
The New York Times’ op-ed page is generally not to be taken too seriously when it comes to the topic of Republican candidates, and this particular detail about Christine O’Donnell, the challenger in Delaware’s upcoming GOP primary may, in the greater scheme of things, be trivial, but it is certainly striking:
One of the most notable things on her political résumé is her well-publicized position against masturbation. (“The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can’t masturbate without lust.”)