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The Delaware Lesson

Charles Krauthammer explains many conservatives’ frustration over Christine O’Donnell’s upset primary win:

The very people who have most alerted the country to the perils of President Obama’s social democratic agenda may have just made it impossible for Republicans to retake the Senate and definitively stop that agenda. …

That’s what makes the eleventh-hour endorsements of O’Donnell by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Sarah Palin so reckless and irresponsible.

I would offer two caveats, although I agree with the sentiment. (By the way, there is much less upset with the Tea Partiers who have proved their value to the party and championed many excellent candidates than with the two supposedly professional pols). First, there are other routes (through California, Wisconsin, Illinois, etc.) to get to control of the Senate, but it sure is harder to take the Senate if Delaware is not a “solid Republican” but a “solid Democratic” race. And second, a bare majority in the Senate will not be sufficient to rip up the Obama agenda, although it sure would make a difference in confirmation fights, committee hearings, investigations, etc. That said, there is a reason why some are upset.

Krauthammer reminds us:

Bill Buckley — no Mike Castle he — had a rule: Support the most conservative candidate who is electable. …

Of course Mike Castle is a liberal Republican. What do you expect from Delaware? A DeMint? Castle voted against Obamacare and the stimulus. Yes, he voted for cap-and-trade. That’s batting .667. You’d rather have a Democrat who bats .000 and who might give the Democrats the 50th vote to control the Senate?

So Krauthammer suggests DeMint and Palin go to Delaware. (“You made it possible. Now make it happen.”) But Palin has fessed up that she might do more harm than good. (Yesterday, Palin on Fox News explained: “I’ll do whatever I can. I want to help, though, and not hurt. And, you know, sometimes it’s a double edged sword there if my name is connected to anybody.”) Because, for Pete’s sake, this is Delaware!

Perhaps, like John Boehner, the GOP will get lucky and O’Donnell will either pull a stunning upset win (bizarre things have already happened this year, but this would surely rank up there) or the party will find some other route to majority status in the Senate. Alternatively, if the GOP picks up only seven or eight states, the single Delaware seat would not have been all that critical.

Still, Delaware is a lesson worth absorbing as the prelims for 2012 get underway. The task for the GOP will be to find a standard bearer that is in the Marco Rubio mold and not in the Christine O’Donnell mold. If that message is internalized, maybe the lost seat will have been worth it to the GOP. Better to blow Delaware in 2010 than the presidency in 2012.


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