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Sunday, September 19, 2010

The O'Donnell Witch Project: Let the Circus Begin

Oh, this is just great...

The Delaware Senate race is shaping to be one of the more "entertaining" diversions this fall. After all, why should we all watch Jersey Shore, The Hills, or The Real World when we have less-scripted "reality," combined with ugly, Obama-like finger-wagging, barely mitigated name-calling, and political shuffling on this scale?

As I'm sure most people know at this point Bill Maher took some time off from essentially calling bi-racial people inferior (so much for my kids...) to release a clip of Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell (video here) saying:

"I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things. I'm not making this stuff up. I know what they tell me they do."


"One of my first dates was a with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn’t know it. I mean, there’s a little blood there and stuff like that. … We went to a movie and then like had a little midnight picnic on a satanic altar."

Now let the games begin.

Patterico's Pontifications and Powerline have both (rather prematurely) declared O'Donnell's political career to be dead. But many people hung their hopes on O'Donnell and, much like the movie Spartacus, they're now standing up and declaring "I'm Spartacus!"-- uh, I mean, that they too have dabbled in witchcraft because, you know, it was the 70s... or something. Not the best way to defend her guys... How about pointing out that this 40 second clip doesn't really say all that much. Is O'Donnell talking about Wicca or Satanism? It sounds to me like some form of Satanism with the blood altar and all that.

From RedState (sometimes the add at the top of RedState page is a pentagram advertising "The Ultimate Holistic Resource." LMAO.):

"Christine O’Donnell is more alike with a bunch of 40 somethings who came up in the late 70’s and early 80’s then these holier then thou types on the right seem to recognize. Why I bet a large portion of our Presidents who graduate from Harvard or Yale dabbled in blood oaths and other gruesome side games (could be called witchcraft) Don’t Stand in Judgment of That Which You Don’t Understand. Hell, I checked out witchcraft myself in my teens, I didn’t do the blood thing though, not to say I wouldn’t have but I just didn’t. In the waning days of the 70’s and early 80’s, this Country was kind of like it is today, sad, depressed and not sure that there would be a good future. My parents and I am sure a lot of parents, screamed and hollered every day about the precarious state of our existence. In those days a lot of people my age were looking for 'something' what was that 'something'? I didn’t know, I checked all of the major religions and then started looking at other types of 'religion'. In hindsight, after many years of marriage and grown children, it all seems rather silly but that doesn’t make it a jailable offense and it certainly does not preclude someone from running for Senate."

I found this post hilarious and I was convinced after a first reading that it was a satire (and I'm still not completely convinced it's not). People have seriously checked out Satanic witchcraft? Really?

There have been others, claiming that before they grew up they were Satanists or something. This comment at Legal Insurrection was a pretty amusing example. "Like Christine O'Donnell, I dabbled in the occult in my senior year of high school, and even my first year of college. Like Christine O'Donnell, I became an evangelical Christian in my late twenties. It's called spreading your wings, experimenting, and then real life begins to slap you across the head and you grow up. Any questions?"

Yeah, I've got a few questions. Where is all this happening? I haven't ever encountered bloody altars and witches before. And I don't believe that I've led a life all that sheltered from weirdness. In high school and college I've had friends and acquaintances who have believed:

1) in the ritual scarring of onself with a knife

2) that Western dragons used to live (and will return), but the reason we can't find any fossils or remains is because we don't believe in them (a collective consciousness determining reality, I suppose)

3) that Atlantis not only existed, but disappeared due to a warp in space/time (this fellow was a graduate student in physics)

4) that cats are this plane's manifestations of highly evolved and supremely intelligent inter-dimensional beings (this was in all seriousness... I started laughing thinking it was a joke and was stared down coldly. He forgave me for my outburst a week or two later.)

5) that you can increase your weight so much that four strong men can't lift you simply by concentrating

This is in addition to the standard New Age crystal power stuff, Illuminati/Free Masons/Black Helicopter conspiracy theories, UFOs, and Bigfoot, etc. Just to make everybody a little uncomfortable, I should add that all of these beliefs were held by people of high intelligence, all of whom were students and grad-students at well-regarded California schools such as UCLA, UCSD, and USC. To the best of my recollection, all graduated. Still with all these people claiming to have dabbled in witchcraft, I have to ask where are all these blood witches/Satanists hanging out? And yes, I have heard of Wicca. I've known several Wiccans and even briefly dated a believer just out of high school (no midnight picnics on bloody altars, as I recall).

Then there's the people attacking Bill Maher while downplaying O'Donnell's comments.

"The better question is, is it really ehtical for Maher to be digging in his own archives in an attempt to damage someone running for office ten years later? That looks pretty despicable to me. The message is, if you disagree with him politically, never go on what is his unserious show and have some laughs, because he will use it against you down the road. That's actually pretty pathertic."

Yes, Bill Maher is pathetic for reasons too numerous to bother to list here. Yet, what was O'Donnell doing on a show in which the main premise is Maher surrounding himself with Hollywood liberals and then mocking the conservative guest for an hour or so. People like Andrew Breibart can handle that sort of grilling. O'Donnell clearly could not. That's probably why Maher had O'Donnell appear on his show so often.

Mark Levin has responded by drawing some sort of moral equivalence to Obama's cocaine use and various other liberal scandals to O'Donnell's 40 seconds of weirdness.

"Barack Obama dabbled in cocaine.

"Remember this? Somehow, it didn't disqualify Obama for 'high' office. In fact, it didn't even seem to affect his image at the time Obama made it public. Obama even explained his revelation as altruistic -- the public appreciates honestly and openness of this sort, he insisted."


"But at least O'Donnell didn't kill anybody at Chappaquiddick (Ted Kennedy), join the Ku Klux Klan (Bob Byrd), 'allegedly' commit rape (Bill Clinton), or, like Harry Reid's pet, Chris Coons, dabble in Marxism."

Levin makes a couple of decent points:

"But now, Bill Maher, a true sleaze ball, releases some unused clip from one of his programs where Christine O'Donnell talks about witchcraft and her youth (frankly, it's not even clear what, exactly, she had to do with witchcraft in any real way, other than dating some guy who may have been into it). CBS considers this newsworthy."

From Althouse:

"Maher obviously knows her well and likes her. 'She's nice,' he says. She was on his show a lot, and he's just exploiting the clips he has, which, he tells us, he's going to keep doing until she comes on his show. He's blackmailing her and giggling about what he's doing to this nice person he likes."

Ouch. Not terribly unusual for Hollywood, but still... Ouch.

And this was a "hit job" that will get far more press than it merits. As Michelle Malkin points out, among Bill Maher's motives is an attempt to take credit for her popularity and to get her back on his show.

"Narcissism. Blackmail. Distortion. All wrapped in his trademark smirk of pallor. Yes, it’s tired old liberal 'comedian' Bill Maher trying to get Senate GOP primary candidate Christine O’Donnell to come on his show by baiting her with a brief video clip in which she mentions having 'dabbled' in 'witchcraft' and hung around people who practiced it."


"She [O'Donnell] has nothing to be ashamed of — except, perhaps, for going on Maher’s show so many times. He promises to release 22 more clips until she sits down with him in front of the cameras and brags, in typical TV chauvinist fashion, that he 'created her' and that she 'owe[s]' him.

"Ignore the Hollywood attention troll. Focus on the campaign, the voters of Delaware, and the bearded Marxist opponent who’s the real out-of-touch extremist in the race."

Probably Malkin has the sanest take on the issue, and she brings up that O'Donnell's comments were both unaired and taken out of any sort of context.

"At 1:03 in the video, one of the panelists on the show criticizes O’Donnell for criticizing Halloween — 'Wait a minute, I love this, you’re a witch, you go "Halloween is bad," I’m not the witch, I mean wait a minute.' She responds by explaining that she opposes witchcraft because she has had first-hand experience with what they do.

"So, she tried it. She rejected it. And she learned from it."

Well, that's not exactly what it appears like to me. O'Donnell does not seems to be explaining why she opposes witchcraft (although it is impossible to tell in a clip that's about 40 seconds long), but rather defending why she opposes Halloween.

This is one of those issues that annoys me personally. I have paid little attention to the O'Donnell/Castle/Coons topic, so I have no idea what O'Donnell herself actually thinks, but many people I've met personally who oppose Halloween (and yes, I have not met O'Donnell and I will restate that I don't know O'Donnell's view on this) look to the government (usually some local form) to pass laws making trick-or-treating and such difficult. I don't like people who use the government to force or set their specific values onto people (as opposed to generally agreed upon laws equating that thievery, rape, and murder = bad etc.)-- which is incidentally the main reason --of numerous reasons-- that I reject the political Left of this country and Marxism/socialism everywhere.

I don't believe that this unease I have about people opposing Halloween is terribly unique, and O'Donnell's reputation (unfair or not) as being a religious kook seems reinforced by this. Amusingly, it seems rather telling that Maher et al felt that releasing a clip of O'Donnell portraying her as a witch would be more politically damaging then releasing a clip of her opposing Halloween. You know how those idiotic, self-righteous Righties will go nuts over her "dabbling in witchcraft" but not over her imposing her moral views on others... Right?

As ridiculous and amusing as the fallout of this hit job is, we need to remember that this is an actual Senatorial race. So, do I believe that this will hurt O'Donnell's chance to win? Did she really have much of chance to begin with? Prior to this, Coons possessed a 53% to 42% lead according to Rasmussen polls. Personally, I never felt there was much hope for O'Donnell to overcome that lead in the first place. So while some were pronouncing O'Donnell's career dead and others dismiss it, the fact is that O'Donnell would have needed a pretty incredible surge to win anyway. And this "issue" will not help her get that. Can it be overcome? Sure. Will itbe? I don't know. I don't know Delaware at all, so it'll be interesting to watch and see.

Lost in all of this is a more important issue for the Right. Mike Castle was predicted to be sure thing for the Delaware Senate seat leading the polls over Coon 48% to 37%. Yet, Delaware Republicans rejected Castle mostly on the basis of his fiscal conservatism, or rather his lack of it. If O'Donnell had managed to focus merely on fiscal issues (pretty much an impossibility at this point), she would've moved up substantially in the polls, though now winning is probably not likely. But who knows...

Fair or not, Castle was cast as a RINO and anyone defending him or expressing doubt at O'Donnell's chances, from Karl Rove to Charles Krauthammer, were attacked as either political elitists (the blunt truth is that you need political professionals on your side) or RINOs themselves. This has highlighted a basic problem within the political Right. Being made up of various factions from Old Conservatives to Classical Liberals there is not a great deal of consensus as to what the Right necessarily represents. I've written about this before. Add to this the fact that the Tea Party basically represents fiscal responsibility, and an anti-big government platform-- not merely a ringing endorsement of Republicans who have, in the past and present, often not measured to the Tea Partiers' standards, and we can begin to see the divisive problem the American Right faces.

Should the Right divide itself over differences such as this, Obama and the Left-- with the help of a sympathetic media-- could hold onto the 2012 elections and the repeal of the economically fascist ObamaCare travesty (among other nonsense) will be far more unlikely in the farther future.

Meanwhile, even the issue of fiscal responsibility is lost in the race for Delaware's Senate seat. Politics have devolved into non-issues and the voters of Delaware are left with the choice between a man dabbling in Marxism and a woman dabbling in witchcraft. Such nonsense for such an important seat...

UPDATE: Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has probably the best post about the way forward for O'Donnell.

From Jacobson's post "Memo to the Right: 'The Lombardi Rule' Is In Effect":

"Yet some of our leading bloggers and pundits are on a mission to prove that they were right, and that O'Donnell was not the best pick. To that end, they regurgitate every snippet of gossip and every tape from the 1990s without context or reflection, much less waiting until the O'Donnell campaign has a chance to respond.

"They must have a pretty dim view of the voters in Delaware to think that some sophomoric videos from the 1990s outweigh the national issues hovering over the race, not to mention Coons' recent problems, like multiple tax increases and an exploding budget deficit in his county."


"Does high blog traffic trump our collective national desire to see our kids grow up in a nation in which the state is the servant not the master (h/t Margaret Thatcher)?"


"The left is doing to O'Donnell exactly what they did to Sharron Angle -- swamp her with accusations and nonsense in the days after the primary to keep her from organizing her campaign. The Nevada primary was months ago, so Angle had a chance to recover. O'Donnell doesn't have that luxury of time given the late primary. She needs to integrate millions of dollars in new cash, gear up with staff, and plan her attack."


"So [names of conservative blogs and pundits still dumping on O'Donnell deleted], get over it and get to work defeating Democratic rubber-stamp hack Chris Coons."

Good advice.

Will it be taken? It'll be interesting to watch and see.


  1. Oh dear, this is making me want to post on this lunacy, something I sort of decided against. Ugh. Here we go again, I guess. *sigh*

  2. As a sort of side note, isn't it rather bizarre that the open-minded and tolerant leftists are referring to her as a witch (and worse)? What happened to religious tolerance? Oh, right, it doesn't exist on the left, and it certainly doesn't exist on the far fringe left.

  3. The Left has often portrayed Michael Steele, Clarence Thomas, John McWorter, Shelby Steele, Ward Connerly, Condaleeza Rice, and any other Black conservative as Sambos, Step'n'Fetchits, and monkeys, called them Uncle Toms and Aunt Jemimahs, referred to them as either house n*ggers or field n*ggers (I guess depending on which they thought would be more insulting), coons, etc.

    The Left have gone out of the way to demonize Cuban-Americans, including openly fantasizing about setting them all adrift in the ocean (and drew a mainstream political cartoon about it). See some of Humberto Fontova's work for some examples.

    Shall I even mention what happened to Sarah Palin? Sharon Angle? Hillary Clinton even?

    I have no illusions about the "tolerance" of the Left. It is merely a means to a politcal end. If you're on the wrong side (or right side in my view) of things, the mask falls and the claws come out.