To say Christine O’Donnell knows nothing about the responsibilities of a Senator to, for example, be able to name any Supreme Court decision she might deem objectionable is to state an already oft-stated obvious. Less obvious, but much more telling about her qualifications, were 1) the awkward, and often illogical, segues between her desultory answers to questions and the talking points she’d been told to deliver, and 2) the ignorance of her and her staff about the basic mechanics of governing Delaware. To treat the second item first:
On the Chris Coons Fact Check blog created expressly for this debate is a post entitled “Debate Fact Check: Chris Coons Says He Cares About Education,” the punchline of which “but his latest 304-page document about New Castle County’s priorities doesn’t mention the word ‘teacher’ even once.” A quick survey of the document reveals that to be true; however, it also fails to mention “errant behaviorists,” “cephalopod psychologists,” “Italian sweater girls” or anyone else whose employment or behavior is not overseen by the New Castle County Council.* You would think someone running to represent Delaware would know that its educational system is administered at the state and local levels, and that the county’s only responsibility concerns the management of crossing guards.*
But you would be wrong.
To address the first item, now, her ignorance of whose responsibility it is to mention the word “teacher” is especially galling when you consider that one of her debate strategies was to mention the word “local” every chance she got, e.g.
O’DONNELL: I believe that the local—I was talking about what a local school taught and that should be taught—that should be decided on the local community. Local schools should make that decision.
You can hear her coaching in that quotation: “If they mention ‘evolution,’ don’t look scare away fiscal conservatives by claiming science is a liberal plot to force us into homosexual relations with monkeys. Just repeat the word ‘local’ and the right people will feel shiny and empowered.” She employed the same tactic when addressing a situation in which locally empowered people had already done what they were empowered to do:
O’DONNELL: However, where the question has come between what is protected free speech and what is not protected free speech, the Supreme Court has always ruled that the community, the local community has the right to decide. And then the issue with the “9/11 mosque,” that’s exactly where the battle is being fought, by the community members who are impacted by that.
Even though she’s already been informed that “the local community” had already exercised its “right to decide,” she believes that “the local community” should continue exercising it until that second “e” can flex into an “o” and purge Ground Zero from all things Islam. That she transforms “local” into “communities should keep deciding until they decide in favor of my preferred answer” demonstrates that, like many a conservative before her, the word is an invitation to an imposition disguised in the rhetoric of Athenian democracy.
One particularly sad aspect of her performance is how brief she could keep a talking point in her head, and how she apparently felt the need to use it before it slipped her mind, e.g.