Catnip and Christine O'Donnell

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 4 2010 1:13 PM

Catnip and Christine O'Donnell

Loren Heal sets some sort of record for words-in-response-to-a-tweet, calling my weekend revelation that "Christine O’Donnell is catnip for liberal media so it ignores actual surging GOP candidates in WV, WI, etc." a "silly conspiracy theory."

[I]f "Christine O’Donnell is catnip for the liberal media", who isusing her that way? Weigel clearly assumes an active control over whichraces the insurgents back (or something). The Republican Party has nosuch control. The Tea Party movement exercises no such control. TheO’Donnell campaign certainly isn’t in it to be a distraction for RonJohnson or John Raese.

We appear to have here a conspiracy theory without a group of conspirators.

Testing this theory teaches us the degree to which Dave Weigel isnot a spokesman for conservatives. The Tea Party movement is in fullrebellion against not only the Democratic Party’s control of thefederal government, but against the Republican establishment enablingit. The seemingly futile and resource-intensive battle for the DelawareSenate seat is for them as much about defeating the Republicanestablishment and proving wrong the conventional beltway wisdom as itis winning the seat itself.

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I don't disagree with anything here. I was talking about liberals, not conservatives. People prefer things that make them feel good to things that make them feel bad. Liberals prefer to view O'Donnell, with her long record of strange statements, as the Marianne of the Tea Party-GOP takeover, for a lot of reasons, but the key one is probably that they expect to beat her -- and in doing so they expect to deprive the GOP of a seat it had been planning to win easily. But they're ignoring lots and lots of House races, and several Senate races, where the GOP is likely to win, or well it's performing better than expected and could win. This is a pretty petty media argument I'm making; a lot of the O'Donnell hype has to do with the fact that she's said things on video , which makes for prettier cable news segments. So as someone who goes on cable news and knows a lot of the viewers of this stuff, I wonder: Why would liberals rather learn more about how silly O'Donnell is than the facts about John Raese or Ron Johnson? Because there's so much O'Donnell material and because at the end of the day they expect to beat her.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.