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Christine O’Donnell Debates Harry Reid’s Untrained Pet

October 14, 2010

The French Cowboy watched the debate between Christine O’Donnell and Chris “Harry’s Pet” Coons with great interest. (The 1.5hrs video can be found here, a transcript here.) For better or worse, how a candidate does during such televised face-offs is often vital. To be an effective politician it takes more than just good policies (sometimes, sadly, those aren’t even needed at all), but also certain skills, like convincing voters to pull the lever for you and presenting your policy plans in a persuasive manner. To cut to the chase: O’Donnell won this debate.

O’Donnell won the debate not only on sympathy points, but also in terms of policy. O’Donnell won the debate not only because Coons is a bad candidate, but also because she’s a really good one. Let me explain why the French Cowboy thinks so.

First the sympathy points: Obviously due to the way O’Donnell has been ridiculed by the media, the Left (but I’m repeating myself), and even some of her own party, Coons felt overconfident in treating his opponent in a dismissive and arrogant manner. “Fascinating question!”, he says sarcastically after O’Donnell pointed to his possible financial interests in the passing of a cap-and-trade bill. “What’s she talking about?”, he asks unable to suppress an unpleasant laughter. Mme O’Donnell has said or done nothing during the debate that would have justified such an unserious behaviour by Coons. Showing such spite for his opponent during this important debate places Coons firmly into the category of “jerk”.

There was a remark made by one of the presenters who said to Coons that: “You also said in an interview once you thought you would either end up a preacher, a professor or a politician.” Need I say more? Imagine Coons the Preacher! Pro-abortion (but actually just hiding from the responsibility in claiming that it’s all up to the individual to make the call — the “above my pay grade” tactic), pro-embryonic stem cell research funded with taxpayer money (it’s all for the children sick!), and low enough to publicly dismiss his political opponent’s arguments as risible and not worthy of an answer — but, oh, what a terriffic preacher he’d make! He’d be at least as good a preacher as he’d be a professor or as he’s a politician. Coons must have known that those are three areas in which a snotty jerk like himself should feel right at home.

Christine O’Donnell on the other hand is suffering from being too nice. She has a likable appearance and manner, and her voice is not made to sound authorative. Her dishonest critics are exploiting these traits to convince themselves and others that Mme O’Donnell is not to be taken seriously. And Coons has fallen into the trap of believing this to be correct. It’s very hard to imagine Coons showing the disrespect he has for O’Donnell to a male opponent. This is almost pure sexism — and the French Cowboy is always very thrifty with the accusation of sexism.

As for policies, Coons showed himself to be very much on board with the unpopular liberal agenda of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid axis. He knew better than talking directly about the failed so-called stimulus bills, but praised the government’s “investments” into “green” energy jobs — the Democrats’ standard belief that the public sector can accurately predict future market demands and not just sink money into a hole– and argued that the best way to get out of the current recession is by investing into America’s higher education — oh boy, that’s gonna be one long recession then. He fully backed ObamaCare, he opaquely spoke in support of trade barriers (“make sure we’re not letting our trading partners take advantage of us”), and complained about Citizens United, the Surpeme Court decision that allows corporations to donate to political campaigns.

To the head-on question whether Coons thinks that teachers’ unions have too much power, he wouldn’t give an answer, but a word-rich talk full of vapidity to make the answer time pass. O’Donnell was right to call him out on that: “He didn’t answer the question as to whether or not he thought the teacher unions were too powerful, and that’s probably because he got their endorsement.”

There was another moment in which Coons wanted to get away with a long dishonest answer. It was his little talk on how China is a threat (militarily and economically) after he ridiculed O’Donnell on reported statements of her suggesting she had classified information over a Chinese takeover. After Coons’ speechlet over the looming threat that is China, O’Donnell asked him: “Are you saying that China has a plot to take over America?” The implication was of course that Coons’ opinion could be used against him in the same fashion in which he used O’Donnell’s against her. The comment was passed over, but attentive listeners should have caught it.

A comparable moment occured when O’Donnell spoke of Coons’ “Marxist beliefs” versus her own “Catholic faith”. One can easily draw an (imperfect) parallel between Coons’ relation of how friends jokingly referred to him as a “bearded Marxist”, and O’Donnell’s past statements on religious and moral issues. Both circumstances date years back, and both are open to more or less reasonable interpretation. Both are also not necessarily relevant in the context of this election. The attempt by O’Donnell to equate a possibly Marxist worldview of Coons with her own possibly out-of-mainstream religious views was not unreasonable. But I’m sure that she will get a lot of grief for it from the usual suspects.

It’s unfortunate that O’Donnell didn’t manage to put Coons on the spot on specific policy issues. He got away with a lot of pol talk: yakking on without actually saying anything. In the debate over health care reform O’Donnell hadn’t stocked up enough readily available ammunition. In a sympathetic crowd it’s enough to say that the individual mandate is crap. But during a debate like this one, fact-based arguments must be piled on the table. Does Coons really believe, for instance, that the individual mandate will lessen the overall financial burden of health care, as he implicitly argued? Would he honestly argue that this redistributive scheme is fairer than one that allows individuals to be without health care if they so choose?

Coons, of course, didn’t make it easy. O’Donnell mentioned a row of policies that Coons had inacted, to which he never bothered to give an answer. Instead he began way too many statements by claiming that there was far too little time to go into all the risibly false claims dropped from his opponent’s lips because of the sheer number of them. Interestingly, though, it was O’Donnell who often tried to make further comments when the presenters wouldn’t give her the time. Coons was content wasting precious seconds on explaining that he had neither the time, nor the intention, to explain.

There is no way to excuse the aggressive arrogance that Monsieur Coons displayed during this debate. A political candidate who thinks he can treat his general election opponent in such a dismissive manner is betraying disrespect for voters and the electoral process. If Coons loses this election, maybe he can go back to his old career as a preacher. Quite like politics, it’s a profession that has been swamped by talentless people who see no need to be humble.

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