The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Swiftboating of Christine O’Donnell (Reply to Barrett Brown)

Posted on | September 18, 2010 | 110 Comments

I don’t suppose you’d be inclined to explain the process by which you determined that O’Donnell’s own account of her dabbling in witchcraft constitutes a “smear.” Does “smear” mean something different in Confederate talk than it does in American English?
e-mail from Barrett Brown

“Smear” describes the intention of the actor as much as the content of his actions. Democrats have employed the term “swiftboat” to describe what they perceived to be such tactics employed by Republicans. But let’s examine that term and see how it applies here, shall we?

John Kerry purposefully made Vietnam heroism the centerpiece of his 2004 campaign biography. The organization Swift Boat Veterans for Truth therefore put forward other Vietnam veterans, including men who had served with Kerry, to dispute the facts and interpretation of Kerry’s record. Believing that the SBVT campaign constituted a smear, Democrats therefore now describe any similar GOP effort as “swiftboating.”

To what extent has Christine O’Donnell made her biography the centerpiece of her 2010 Senate campaign? Not at all, so far as I am aware. She instead focused her GOP primary campaign squarely on Mike Castle’s record in Congress, especially his anemic ACU ranking and his votes for TARP and the cap-and-trade bill.

The one exception to that issue-focused campaign was the online video insinuating that Castle had carried on a clandestine gay affair. That video was produced by a former O’Donnell staffer without authorization of the candidate or her campaign, and has generally been condemned by O’Donnell’s supporters. It is doubtful that it had any meaningful impact on the results of the primary.

By contrast, at no time during the GOP primary campaign did Castle’s Republican supporters attempt to defend his record on the merits. Other than their attacks on O’Donnell’s financial history, etc., the pro-Castle argument could be summarized thus: “Mike can win the general election; Christine can’t; better to elect a RINO than to risk defeat by the Democrats.” Republican primary voters in Delaware seem to have rejected those arguments, 53%-47% being a rather decisive “no” to the status quo.

Now, in the general election campaign, the issues in Delaware are even more starkly defined between Chris Coons and O’Donnell than they were in the GOP primary. A vote for Coons is emphatically an endorsement of the policies of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. A vote for O’Donnell is a rejection of those policies.

Every indicator of electoral sentiment currently suggests that voters are prepared to deliver one of the loudest “no” votes in American political history. Therefore, it behooves Democrats to make the mid-term election a vote about something — anything — other than the Democratic Party’s policies.

This is why Christine O’Donnell’s opponents want to talk about masturbation or witchcraft or whatever else will prevent voters from perceiving the election as a referendum on that set of policies colloquially known as Obamanomics.

Certainly no one could blame Democrats for seeking to change the subject — “Hey, let’s blame Bush!” — but I am increasingly doubtful that voters are in a mood for such sideshow distractions. In fact, according to many observers in Delaware, the Castle campaign’s relentless negative personal attacks on O’Donnell backfired badly in part because voters perceived that Castle (running as the de facto incumbent) was trying to avoid a discussion of his record on the issues. 

So, why do I describe the use of O’Donnell’s 1999 comments on witchcraft as a “smear”? To repeat, it is a matter of intent. O’Donnell has never raised the subject of witchcraft as part of her current Senate campaign, nor has she ever proposed any government policy toward withcraft, so far as I know.

Why was O’Donnell discussing witchcraft on Bill Maher’s show? How did this topic come up? What was the context? We don’t know, nor has anyone attempted to place this video clip in its proper context. Rather, the clip is being used to convey a clear message: “SHE’S A TOTAL KOOK!”

That message is obviously intended as a smear. To borrow the Left’s jargon, they are trying to “swiftboat” Christine O’Donnell.

Barrett, you have objected in the past when, highlighting your leadership role in an atheist political organization, I dismissed you as a fanatical God-hater. Perhaps you have sufficient self-awareness to perceive how your bias against Christianity informs your antagonism toward Christine O’Donnell. Perhaps not. Either way, the source of your fanaticism is apparent to anyone with eyes to see.

When you first attacked me in October 2009, Barrett, you did so by jumping on someone else’s bandwagon which you evidently believed was rolling on its way to inevitable victory. Nearly a year later, it appears your belief was in error. After some months of silence, now you solicit my explanation of a single word — “smear” — in one of many posts I have written about the Delaware Senate campaign.

How stupid do you think I am?

Don’t you see that it is your intellectual arrogance that defeats you at every turn? You believe that you are so damned superior to anyone who disagrees with you that every argument must resolve itself as another stunning triumph for Young Genius Barrett Brown. Yet the relevance of any such debate is always obscured by your arrogance, as the only reason you ever enter into an argument is to demonstrate how much smarter you are than everyone else.

Whatever the subject, your conclusion is always the same: Everyone should admire Barrett Brown. And whatever the outcome of the debate, you are never satisfied by the result, because no one could ever admire you as much as you admire yourself.

Excuse me for refusing to cooperate in your latest attempt at self-aggrandizement, although I appreciate the opportunity once more to instruct you that you aren’t nearly so smart as you think you are.

Please contact me again the next time you feel a craving for humiliation, Barrett. I’ve rarely encountered anyone who needs humiliating as badly as you do.


UPDATEHinderaker declares O’Donnell “RIP.” Michelle Malkin says, “Grow some balls.”

Well, I paraphrase slightly . . .

BTW, what is it with some Republicans who would rather walk away from a difficult fight rather than to muster a show of force by winning where Conventional Wisdom says victory is impossible? I’ve always loved underdogs who fight like hell and win despite all odds, but it seems some members of the GOP commentariat are wired differently.

Christine O’Donnell is a “lousy candidate”? Well, pray tell what would you call John McCain?

“Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Bob Barr!”


  • José

    Thank you JeffS. I have never considered myself a “clever concern troll” and don’t really understand what that means. Something nice, I hope.

    I also don’t understand the part about moving goalposts. Let me try with fewer and smaller words. “A person should be judged on who they are and what they do.” That is NOT what you and McCain are doing, either with Mr. Obama or Ms. O’Donnell. It’s not right, it’s not fair, and I’m gonna call you guys on that. If someone who insists on consistency and fairness is a troll then I’m glad to be called one.

  • SDN

    Jose, Bill Ayers was essential to Obama’s political career; Obama’s first campaign was kicked off in Ayers living room.

    Oh, and Obama was a passionate defender of Rev Wright…. until it became obvious that it was hurting O!’s ambitions. At which point, under the bus he went. Fair-weather friend, thy name is Obama.

  • SDN

    And who Obama is is the ultimate Affirmative Action hire.

  • Ellie Light

    Barret Brown must be one of those Yankees who can’t seem to speak English. Who else describes taxes as “investments” or describes tolerance as the love of Islam.

  • José

    SDN, saying that the Ayers fundraiser “was essential to Obama’s political career” is like saying that visiting Denver is “essential” when driving from LA to Chicago. Sure, it’s one way to get there but it’s not the only way. Some folks like Albuquerque instead. It might be educational for you to look up the word “essential” in a dictionary, or perhaps ask your English teacher.

    First you guys slam Obama for being a rapt disciple of Rev. Wright, and then you slam Obama because he distanced himself when Wright became too extreme. If there’s one constant principle, you’re convinced that Obama is a baddie and it’s just a matter of finding the right reason! Y’all are too funny.

  • Brian Richard Allen

    Thank God Senator-Elect O’Donnell never claimed to be bearded or even a close-shaven Marxist — nor demonstrated that she is a Mussolini-modeled modified one of those. (A fascist, that is)

    As is the mobbed-up murtadd-Muslim mother’s milquetoast presently pretending to what passes as a “president.’ Let alone that she might ever have been habituated to cocaine, be a life-time pot-head, have hung out with terrorists, communists or have spent twenty years at the elbow of a Marxist “theology” spewing racist hate-monger.

    And/or have dabbled with any of that stuff.

    Thank God, indeed. Otherwise Ms O’Donnell, poor thing, would likely be a “Democrat,” a street agitating Alinskyist thug, a way out of her depth pretender to national office — and/or an apparatchik of the naive national narcissist’s gangsta “administration!

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