Is O’Donnell Crazy, or Just a Republican?
I know very little about Christine O’Donnell, and I suspect I would not like her politics very much if I were familiar with them, but if this New Republic article really lists the craziest things she’s said, I don’t see why everyone thinks she’s crazy. By section:
Her famous comments about masturbation seem not only sane but much saner than anything Andrew Sullivan has said on the topic. I read Saletan’s piece on how her opposition to masturbation is somehow inconsistent with her opposition to socialism, and it is indeed as embarrassing as Douthat says it is. Even if you disagree with her position, which most Americans probably do, it’s clearly informed by a coherent and widely held philosophy.
“I don’t encourage anyone to seek ‘abstinence.’ I cringe at terms like ‘secondary virginity’ or ‘recycled virgin.’ One of my goals is to get the body of Christ to stop proclaiming these words. I would rejoice if I never heard ‘abstinence’ from a pulpit again.”
Why is this remotely objectionable to anybody except people who use the word “abstinence” a lot? She, like, eg, the writers at Feministing, has a view of human sexuality in which “abstinence” as such is not a goal. Presumably her view of human sexuality differs substantially from those of most contemporary feminists, but this quote doesn’t tell you that.
I don’t even understand why people think these quotes are hilarious. Do they not know that Wiccans and other self-proclaimed “witches” exist? Or is it O’Donnell’s tone of regret that alarms them? Do they think a self-identified Christian shouldn’t feel remorse about participating in activities pretty adamantly condemned by the Bible and the entirety of Christian tradition?
“And you can tell that Britney Spears is struggling with who she is. I think she has a team of agents and managers who are saying, yes, push the envelope, kiss Madonna, take off all your clothes. And she’s doing that because she doesn’t want to sacrifice this enormous platform that she’s built. But at the same time, she is sacrificing herself and you can see that in her eyes when she talks.”
So, the problem here is that she is insufficiently cynical to indulge in the expected two-minute hate against Britney Spears when prompted by an interviewer? Count me on O’Donnell’s side on this one.
“You see Tolkien’s wisdom applied to just about everything: Tolkien and communism, Tolkien and industrialization.”
Ok, it’s a bit weird to bring Tolkien up in an interview, but she really likes Tolkien, and sure, Tolkien had some interesting things to say, even if obliquely, about communism and industrialization. In fact, it indicates a certain textual sensitivity and intellectual distance from capitalism unusual in conservatives to note that Tolkien was an anti-industrialist, which would of course place him on the radical Left nowadays.
“I was an English major, so break it down: -ist means one who celebrates. As a feminist, I celebrate my femininity.”
She’s not terribly well educated; this is clear. But being uneducated isn’t the same as being crazy, even if it should give Delawareans pause when they contemplate sending her to the Senate.
“America is now a socialist economy. The definition of a socialist economy is when 50 percent or more your economy is dependent on the federal government.”
That’s ridiculous as a characterization of the American economy, to be sure, but it’s significantly less ridiculous than a lot what’s said routinely by Republicans on the House floor.
“…On one hand, you have people saying this is squelching their freedom, and then you scratch your head and say look over here, date rape is such an epidemic. There’s a connection, and, if people realize that there’s a connection, then they’ll realize that these limitations and restrictions exist for a very valid reason.”
This same opinion (minus the not-at-all implausible connection to date rape) is encoded as policy in almost every American high school.
“He’s soooo liberal. He’s anti-American. … He’s beating the ‘change’ drum. But let’s look at the change. He did not vote for English as the official language. What does that say?”
Again overheated and a bit ridiculous, but much less ridiculous than plenty of what passes for serious conservative commentary on Obama.
“Adolph [sic] Hitler once said that to engineer a society you must first engineer its language. Starting with the youth, he set in motion a design to erode the power of words, to steal the significance and beauty of a single word. We can see the unfolding of that plan in our society. Society’s ‘sexual liberation’ has unleashed an entirely new lexicon. For example, ‘gay’ has always meant joyful and gleeful. Yet, today, when we say that Ellen is gay, we’re certainly not talking about her emotional well being.”
Even to mention Hitler was ill-advised, of course, though I’d be interested to know what “single word” he was trying to destroy. It’s hard to see even what she’s getting at with the rest of the quote, except maybe to illustrate that the sexual revolution is sending society to hell in a handbasket, but again this is a pretty widely held view.
There’s nothing to defend in the substance here, but unlike say doubt about anthrophogenic climate change, which is tied up socially with nefarious economic motives, antipathy to evolution is mostly a statement about the authority of scientists, not about science. Most people who believe in evolution are mystified by therapsids and pelycosaurs alike, and most people who don’t believe in evolution have no problem trusting aerodynamical engineering in practice to Science.
“[My opponents are] following me. They follow me home at night. I make sure that I come back to the townhouse and then we have our team come out and check all the bushes and check all the cars.”
Are we positive that they aren’t following her? Politics is strange sometimes.
“If I were in that situation [hiding Jews from the Nazis, and conflicted about whether to tell a lie in order to save them] … God would provide a way to do the right thing.”
I don’t have much truck with puritanical deontologists myself, but I hardly think it should be a disqualification from public office. And surely the invocation of Providence is just what a Christian deontologist should say.