As the whole country now knows, Christine O’Donnell was soundly defeated in Delaware’s senatorial race, as was expected. But she needs no sympathy. Her life is definitely looking up, what with possible book deals and traveling the lecture circuit. She is 41 and single, and has little to show for her life so far. She sublets a townhouse that her campaign rents, has little savings, no investments, and earned only $5,800 in the previous 17 months. That’s all sure to change.
An article by my favorite columnist, Peggy Noonan, seemed to refer to her when she pointed out both the message and the messenger are important to American voters. Candidates in the recent election who “seemed strange, or unprofessional, or not fully qualified, or like empty bags skittering along the street, did not fare well.” (Love that metaphor.)
Conservatives have often pointed to Ronald Reagan as a successful president who at first also seemed unqualified. Even Sarah Palin said, “Wasn’t he in Bedtime for Bonzo? Bozo, or something? Ronald Reagan was an actor.”
But Reagan, Noonan points out, had been a seven-term president of a major labor union through some difficult times, had completed (take note, Sarah) two terms as governor of California, and single-handedly popularized modern conservative political philosophy, all before being elected president.
Regardless of their message, Republicans, as all parties, will still have to come up with credible candidates to win in 2012. The message alone is not enough.