Start Off Your Day With A Pointless Argument

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 21 2010 9:21 AM

Start Off Your Day With A Pointless Argument

National Review's Stephen Spruiell responds to my point that his article on the electability of Christine O'Donnell undersold Chris Coons, the Democrat who's suddenly ahead in the race for Delaware's Senate seat.

Weigel has a point. This could describe Scott Brown, if Brown hadbeen, in all of the other ways I describe in my piece, a down-the-lineparty man the way Coons is. But Brown ran as a moderate on issues suchas same-sex marriage and abortion, and it was clear from the beginninghe was no Tom Coburn, not even a Mitch McConnell. In other words, it could describe Scott Brown — if Scott Brown weren’t Scott Brown.

Look, I’m plenty familiar with this phenomenon. It’s called"aggressively missing someone else’s point in the service of sayingsomething superficially insightful," and it is a hazard of blogging,which sometimes involves writing a post just because it’s been awhile,even if you don’t have anything interesting to say.
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This is a strange argument to make in defense of an argument intended to stretch a listicle from 4 items to 5 items, but whatever. Spruiell makes a new argument to defend the old one. He says that "Brown ran as a moderate on issues such as same-sex marriage andabortion, and it was clear from the beginning he was no Tom Coburn, noteven a Mitch McConnell." I'm not sure what campaign he was watching. The point of Brown's campaign was that that he supported civil unions, but that he would be a reliable vote for Mitch McConnell, blocking the Democratic agenda on health care and other issues. And the point I was making was that Brown, like Coons, was a good soldier, who got into the race when the top talent passed. He was raising real money (almost $1 million by the primary) and the party hoped at best for a miracle upset and at worst for a strong showing that would give Coons momentum for another statewide run. It was the exact same situation as Brown's, which leaves us wondering what Spruiell's point was. That Coons said he'd mostly support Democrats while Brown said he'd mostly oppose them? That's a great story!

Only Harry Reid can say why he decided to welcome Coons into the race by lobbing the "my pet" grenade into his lap. But it's telling that the first Delaware voters will hear of that comment is a $250,000 ad buy by Jim DeMint's committee. The "creation of the party bosses" story doesn't go one way.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.