Michael Gaynor
Chris Coons' Yale education and inheritance are not why Christine O'Donnell should be elected
By Michael Gaynor
October 8, 2010

O'Donnell can win if she exposes Coons as a radical, not by whining that she didn't go to Yale and inherits millions of dollars too.

Political ambition and the pressure to win cause some huge mistakes.

In a op ed titled "In New Hampshire, Palin made a mother of a mistake" and published in the Union Leader on September 8, 2010, Wendy Stone Long called Sarah Palin's "mama grizzlies" strategy "a mistake" (http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=UL&p_theme=ul&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&s_dispstring=allfields(Wendy%20Stone%20Long)%20AND%20date(last%206%20months)&p_field_date-0=YMD_date&p_params_date-0=date:B,E&p_text_date-0=-6qzM&p_field_advanced-0=&p_text_advanced-0=(Wendy%20Stone%20Long)&xcal_numdocs=20&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&xcal_useweights=no).

Long rightly rejected that strategy both in principle and as practiced:

"First, it's contrary to the Republican principle that race, gender and ethnicity are irrelevant. Conservatives stand for true equality. We don't buy the liberal bean-counting, race-and-gender-quota mentality. We should elect the best person, period.

"Second, Palin's abandonment of this conservative principle has produced some mistaken endorsements...."

Senator wannabe Christine O'Donnell shocked the political world less than a week later by beating Delaware's only Congressman, Mike Castle, in the state's Republican Senate primary.

Embarrassed political seer Karl Rove immediately criticized O'Donnell for making the Republican task of taking control of the United States Senate much harder and conservatives around the country, encouraged by Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh, literally showered millions of dollars on O'Donnell for her general election campaign.

O'Donnell appeared on Ingraham's radio show the morning after the primary, but suddenly canceled scheduled appearances on two Sunday shows (apparently having learned a lesson for the experience of Rand Paul after he won the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky this year).

O'Donnell then appeared on Sean Hannity's television show to accept congratulations and to announce that she would avoid the national media and conduct a local campaign.

So much for seizing the moment.

When Ingraham made a public bet for charity with Bill O'Reilly that O'Donnell would win that Delaware Senate seat, I doubt that she expected O'Donnell to opt to avoid the national media, concentrate on friendly church socials and run a television ad campaign that opened with an announcement that (1) she's not a witch, (2) nobody's perfect and (3) she's the viewer ("I'm you") and was followed up with an ad highlighting the Yale education and inheritance of her radical Democrat opponent, Chris Coons.

Principled conservatives don't use a class warfare strategy.

Like race, gender and ethnicity, Coons' Yale education and inheritance should be irrelevant and the better candidate should be elected.

Like me, National Review's Jim Geraghty wants conservatives to win, certainly not radicals like Coons.

Geraghty's concern about the O'Donnell ad campaign is evident in his commentary (www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/249115/christine-odonnells-second-ad-debuts):

"Here's the follow-up [television ad], which . . . well, decide for yourself.

"Fred 'Demonsheep' Davis is an ad genius, so I'll defer to his judgment. But I don't know if I would have continued to parry the criticism; I might have gone straight to the kitchen-table issues.

"Instead, O'Donnell begins, 'I didn't go to Yale.' Er, no, but she's been accused of serially misrepresenting her education record. She continues, 'I didn't inherit millions, like my opponent.' Besides the slight dollop of envy it suggests, it's a poor defense to the accusations of stiffing former employees. Again, if the aim is to make the race about what's happening in Washington or what Chris Coons would do in office, turn to those issues a bit quicker — Election Day is in less than four weeks!

"Finally, the slogan 'I'm you' recurs again, twice, and I'm not sure how far that will carry her. It's clear what they were going for, but perhaps, 'I'm not the establishment' or 'I'm not Washington,' or 'I'm the only candidate that's as angry as you are about what's going on in Washington.' I find it too easy to imagine a voter saying, 'You're not me.' For starters, if you went to Yale, she's explicitly saying she's not you.

"Maybe folks will love this ad, but to me it feels like a misstep."

It's a huge misstep.

People who want Coons to win and O'Donnell to lose by as big a margin as possible will love the ad and the campaign strategy it reflects.

In order to win, O'Donnell needs to show Delaware voters that she would attend the upcoming Senate lame duck session and stand up to the radical Obama agenda instead of rubberstamp it. (Democrat Joe Manchin, the West Virginia governor with the second highest approval rating of the 50 governors, is about to lose a Senate race to a conservative Republican because most West Virginia voters don't want even to risk electing a Senators who might rubberstamp Obama.)

O'Donnell needs the courage to do what Chris Coons is unlikely to do: "The O'Reilly Factor."

Team O'Donnell should tie Coons to Delaware ACORN and make it his albatross. (Coons was elected President of the New Castle County in 2000 and serving four years before being elected County Executive in 2004 and reelected in 2008, before ACORN became toxic.)

Unsurprisingly,Slate's David Weigel discouraged Team O'Donnell from doing negative campaigning against Coons, especially any focused on Coons' transformation from Republican to Democrat and embrace of radicalism (www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/weigel/archive/2010/09/17/chris-coons-on-the-air.aspx):

"Liberals are having the most fun they've had in months by making fun of Christine O'Donnell's career as a Christian conservative pundit, but I doubt that stuff is going to play a role in the Coons campaign. If the Tea Party Express slings the "bearded Marxist" nonsense, I doubt it will work. Coons is boring and tight with money, and that's what wins in Delaware."

Surely Obama voter Weigel really wants O'Donnell to win at least as much as Chris Matthews wants conservative Republicans to win!

O'Donnell can win by showing that Obama is a warlock (figuratively speaking) who cast a spell on most voters in 2008 that has worn off, not by wearing a black dress and pearls and denying that she's a witch for a campaign commercial.

O'Donnell can win if she exposes Coons as a radical, not by whining that she didn't go to Yale and inherits millions of dollars too.

There's no time to waste.

© Michael Gaynor


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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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