Friday, October 29, 2010

Of Ladybugs and Hypocrisy

Yesterday afternoon, the gossip website Gawker posted a rather tawdry, crude and tasteless account of an evening that a shamless sleazebag of a man spent with Christine O'Donnell, the current GOP candidate for U.S. Senator from Delaware. And while the story does reveal a certain hypocrisy on O'Donnell's part when it comes to the issue of sexual morality, on the whole it says much more about the writer's low ethical standards and classless conduct than it does about Ms. O'Donnell. And I say this as no fan of the dangerously unqualified and recklessly incompetent Pepublican Senate candidate.
Yet with all that, it took the O'Donnell campaign very little time to respond to the story in such a fashion as to erase any sympathy I might have developed for her in the course of these sadly uneccesary events:

Wilmington, DE – Communications Director Doug Sachtleben stated in response to the universal condoning of the Gawker story:
"This story is just another example of the sexism and slander that female candidates are forced to deal with. From Secretary Clinton, to Governor Palin, to soon-to-be Governor Haley, Christine's political opponents have been willing to engage in appalling and baseless attacks — all with the aim of distracting the press from covering the real issues in this race. Even the National Organization for Women gets it, but Christine's opponent disturbingly does not. As Chris Coons said on September 16th he would not condone personal attacks against Christine. Classless Coons goons have proven yet again to have no sense of common decency or common sense with their desperate attacks to get another rubber stamp for the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda. Such attacks are truly shameful, but they will not distract us from making our case to Delaware voters — and keeping the focus on Chris Coons' record of higher taxes, increased spending, and as he has done again here, breaking his promises to the voters."
The National Organization for Women (NOW) on Thursday condemned the tabloid website Gawker for publishing an anonymous account: NOW issued a statement late Thursday stating that "sexist, misogynist attacks against women have no place in the electoral process, regardless of a particular candidate's political ideology."
"NOW repudiates Gawker's decision to run this piece. It operates as public sexual harassment. And like all sexual harassment, it targets not only O'Donnell, but all women contemplating stepping into the public sphere," said NOW president Terry O'Neill.

And so with this statement Christine O'Donnell continues in the great tradition of Repubilcan hypocrites who spend careers savaging civil rights and civil liberties organizations such as the National Organization for Women, but then embrace these groups when doing so suits their immediate purposes. Anyone remember Oliver North, the darling of the crypto-fascist Right and current Fox News "analyst", who nonetheless gladly accepted the help of the ACLU lawyers who helped overturn his perjury convictions in the Iran Contra affair? And one sees echoes of Sarah Palin's hypocritical play for female votes in O'Donnell's sisterly embrace of Hillary Clinton. One recalls that in Palin's case, the former half-term Alaska governor first criticized Clinton for her feminist "whining" until she was tapped as John McCain's running mate and decided to make a play for disaffected Hillary Clinton voters. From then on (and once it became clear that Barack Obama was to be the Democratic nominee for president) Palin spoke of Clinton as a fellow traveller unjustly slandered by a sexist press establishment.

And finally there is the purely political attempt by the O'Donnell campaign to turn the episode around and use it to attack Chris Coons by baselessly suggeting that the Coons campaign was somehow behind the story. Not only does O'Donnell provide no proof of these allegations, but Coons was running 20 points ahead of O'Donnell long before the story surfaced. He gains nothing from promoting these tawdry revelations, and indeed and would risk turning off women voters by doing so.

I don't want to suggest that this episode is a case of the chickens somehow coming home to roost, but the fact is that Ms. O'Donnell's private behavior is far more responsible for this episode than anything Chris Coons appears to have done.

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