Andrew Belonsky

Why Meghan McCain's Wrong About 'Nut Job' O'Donnell

Filed By Andrew Belonsky | October 19, 2010 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Christine O'Donnell, Meghan McCain, News, Politics '10

Meghan McCain may have sparked a Republican war yesterday odonnell2.jpgwhen she said the Delaware Senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell, the right wing's latest darling, comes off as a "nut job." McCain's word choice may be spot on, sure, but her argument still misses the mark, and ends up doing more damage than O'Donnell.

"I just know, in my group of friends, it turns people off because she's seen as a nut job," said McCain, Sen. John McCain's daughter, about O'Donnell's candidacy.

Sure, O'Donnell's positions, including assertions that masturbation's sinful, homosexuality's an "identity" disorder and all abortion, even in cases of rape, should be banned, qualify as "nutty," McCain's argument wasn't simply about policy. It was about our political system as a whole.

According to McCain, O'Donnell's campaign, rife with ridiculous footnotes, brings disgrace to the American political system because the candidate has no real "experience."

"I speak as a 26-year-old woman and my problem is that, no matter what, Christine O'Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office... She has no real history, no real success in any kind of business," insisted McCain. "That sends to my generation is: one day you can just wake up and run for Senate, no matter how [much of] a lack of experience you have. And it scares for me for a lot of reasons."

McCain's ahead of her Republican peers when it comes to essential democratic issues, like gay marriage, but her rationale here gouges our nation's fundamental message.

O'Donnell's not the only Senate candidate being written off as a joke. Alvin Greene, the Democratic Senate hopeful from South Carolina, also became a punch line since his surprise primary win, especially after he suggested we solve the budget crisis by selling Alvin Greene Action Figures.

As the press tore Greene apart and fellow Democrats launched investigations into his campaign, I remember being quite inspired by this out-of-nowhere candidate.

No, Greene doesn't have a shot in hell of winning his campaign. Nor, for that matter, does O'Donnell, who trails behind her far less famous opponent Chris Coons by double digits. Winning, however, is not the point here: O'Donnell and Greene represent the populist ideal that makes America great.

Though the Tea Party has taken "populism" and coopted it into a more traditionally conservative message, our nation was founded on that idea that every adult citizen has a stake in the political process, and that includes running for office, no matter their experience or family connections. The "little man" can take on, and beat, the elite. That's the lesson we're taught, at least, and it's one Americans should never forget.

While McCain finds O'Donnell's experience to be lacking, it's important we all remember that one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, had only 18 months of formal education. Experience, in that case, clearly didn't come from higher education or privileged background. It was experience of a different variety, and one that was just as valid.

Christine O'Donnell is no genius -- and Lincoln was, by many accounts, above average intelligence -- but her candidacy does not "mock" the political system. If anything, her quixotic campaign, as well as her new-found prominence, are testament to the American dream, both in terms of politics and the rags-to-riches narrative. And that, more than any policy or legislative impact she may have, will always be O'Donnell's best quality--one that should be celebrated, rather than scorned.

McCain claims O'Donnell's sending an entire generation the wrong message, yet fails to realize that tearing down O'Donnell's "lack of experience" relays a far more harmful lesson: a lack of "acceptable" experience or resources disqualifies one from public office, so don't even try.

A version of this piece also appeared at Death and Taxes Magazine.


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"Experience?"

Meghan needs only look at her Father to see how overrated "experience" is.

I love it when people not only shun the bandwagon, but stand in front of it....
Thanks Andrew- simply for making me stop and think.

Christine O'Donnell has raised millions of dollars. The message that sends is you can become a candidate if you can raise the money.

The problem with South Carolina is that they have open primaries. You don't even register with a party in SC when you register to vote. You just register. Since Jim DeMint wasn't getting primaried by another Republican, Republican voters were free to vote for any Democratic candidate they wanted to run against him.

Anyone can run for Senator, but I would hope people understand that if that's what you want to be, you need to study. Being smart doesn't mean having a formal education. You don't have to go to college to read the paper or the constitution. It's not as if information is locked away in college vaults.

Populism is part of the reason why the Puritans fled Britain. It is tailor made to build a majority that crushes minority voices.

If anything, the American system is anything but populist. The Electoral College, the courts. A system where the educated elite are given the leading positions instead of the charismatic redneck.

This nation would suffer greatly under a system so vulnerable to mob mentality, particularly in an under-educated country that allows for such mass manipulation of the ignorant.

Anyone who votes for O'Donnell has either just fell onto the planet and not heard her speak. Or is as crazy as a sh*t house rat ( to barrow a colorful descriptive term I recall used by my father growing up ). This woman has less sense than someone hit repeatedly in the head with a baseball bat. If the people of Delaware vote her into office, the entire state should be committed because her being elected would prove the entire state has taken leave of their senses. Of course the same could be said of Palin in my opinion as well.

Have you just suggested that Delaware could become the new Alabama?

I have serious reservations about their educational system or the level of pollutants there effecting their brain functions if the voters of that state think Christine O'Donnell is the person to represent them in Washington. Oh and ditto when it comes to those who suggest Sarah Palin is a good choice to run for President. I thought old George W. Bush was as dumb as a bag full of rocks, but comparing him to either of these women makes Dubyah look like Einstein.

Delaware Republicans nominated her. But she has zero chance of winning the general election as Delaware is a Democratic state. This is the seat formerly held by Joe Biden. I don't think she's even running to win...she's running to become famous.

I hope that people are not nuts enough to elect her to Congress, but I have to point out they did put George W. into office twice. I had a huge shock seeing that happen, but then again I am also old enough to have seen them vote Reagan in twice too.

Yeah, after this she'll be a darling on the Sarah Palin circuit and make some cash selling her memoirs. After all, with all the kookiness, the background as a TV pundit, her history with the religious right, and her multiple runs for public office, she's a bestseller waiting to happen. Combine that with the speaking fees she'll be able to command suddenly at religious colleges and fundie groups and she'll turn her loss into a personal win.

Paul in Canada | October 19, 2010 8:20 PM

"O'Donnell and Greene represent the populist ideal that makes America great."

No, these 2 asshats, amongst others (both D & R) demonstrate to the world how stupid American politics has become.

Hard to take you Yanks seriously anymore!