Christine in the Lion's Den

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 16 2010 4:02 PM

Christine in the Lion's Den

The conservative movement's newest political star is making her triumphant return to Washington in an enviable setting -- an afternoon speaking slot at the annual Values Voter Conference run by Focus on the Family. O'Donnell, who spent years at the conservative non-profits Concerned Women for America and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute before getting into electoral politics, is the only candidate for office taking the stage -- several elected members of Congress will precede her, as will possible presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee.

O'Donnell was invited to speak at the event shortly after winning her primary on Tuesday, and if you might expect the new heat on O'Donnell to change that, you don't get how this works. A new, positive, even heroic narrative about O'Donnell has taken hold over the past 24 hours. Conservatives don't attack her for her finances anymore, even though her record on that is hard to explain away. They defend her over her personal views, because they see -- correctly -- liberals having a field day over her social conservatism. Nothing could have been better for O'Donnell than the resurrection of her spot on MTV's "Sex in the 90s IX" on Rachel Maddow's show. If you're a social conservative, you see that and you don't care about anything else. Liberals are attacking a woman for being a Christian. Ben Smith makes the Palin link ; I'm reminded of the short-lived cult of Carrie Prejean.

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As far as this goes in Democratic-leaning, pro-choice Delaware, I think it's a sideshow .

"As a party, it would be silly to apply oneconsistent ideology statewide," said Republican state Rep. Tom Kovach,who isn't pledging to back O'Donnell in the general election. "Ideologyshould not be the sole determining factor in a party's candidate" ... Republican Rep. Greg Lavelle said his "Castle for Senate" sign wasstill in his front yard, but that doesn't mean he's not willing tostart making amends.

Six and a half weeks to go and the people who'll vote in Delaware aren't over this. The O'Donnell hope is that she, Palin-style, turns all of her problems into advantages and soaks up national money.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.