Forget viability. What about competence?
A quick question about the O’Donnell win in Delaware: At what point does a candidate’s personal problems or demonstrable lack of competence become a reason not to vote for them? O’Donnell really does seem manifestly unprepared for adulthood (to say nothing of elected office). Concerns over electability are one thing, but given her personal issues, is there a case for voting against O’Donnell even if you agree with every single one of her views?
If she was running for an office vested with more discretionary authority, I think plenty of primary voters would have thought twice before pulling the trigger.* But in an election over a backbencher Senate seat, does it really make sense to hold candidates accountable for anything other than ideological purity? A job whose major responsibility is to pull the lever for the right team strikes me as just about perfect for a career political activist. Would anyone – Republican, Democrat, or otherwise – vote for a congressional candidate they disagreed with because the person representing their views wasn’t quite right in the head?
*This is, incidentally, the reason I think Palin’s 2012 candidacy is stillborn. In their heart of hearts, plenty of people harbor serious doubts about the idea of Palin’s finger on the button even if they agree with her ideological worldview.