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Are O'Donnell Skeptics Sexists? RINOs? Both?

Can't all us grizzlies get along?

2:40 PM, Sep 17, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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But the O'Donnell race was different. She is seen as a Palin-esque figure. Any criticism of her was deemed akin to the brutally unfair media treatment Palin got in 2008, and the retaliation for such treatment was correspondingly passionate. And, thus those who worked in the Reagan administration, wrote the book on Obama's Chicago past that the media wouldn't, profiled Marco Rubio as a credible candidate in May 2009, cheered the defeat of RINO Dede Scozzafava, energetically defended the Tea Party against accusations of racism and violence, and dogged Martha Coakley as she gaffed and shoved her way to a stunning loss in Massachusetts became sexist RINOs (or were personally attacked on Facebook) because they addressed legitimate shortcomings of one female candidate. There's a real struggle going on between some of the establishment, which is skeptical of Tea Partiers, and the grassroots. But skepticism in one race over one candidate does not an "establishment sell-out" make.

The thing is O'Donnell is not Palin, whose substantial record was often ignored in favor of a reporter pile-on unmatched in its intensity and focus on petty, often unfair and untrue, personal psychoanalysis and questionable narrative-fitting anecdotes. Criticism of O'Donnell from conservatives was not akin to the treatment Palin got and deploying the same type of attack on longtime conservative allies as one would on the New York Times or Nancy Pelosi is not productive. It's the Meghan McCain strategy for winning friends and influencing people. We hate it when she paints conservatives and Republicans with a broad brush, reinforces our adversaries' stereotypes of us, marshals little proof in defense of either, and then asks us to merrily join hands with her as she fights for our cause. Why are we pulling a Meggie Mac on each other?

The people of Delaware spoke, O'Donnell is the nominee, and she's done very well in her debut interviews in the national spotlight. She is certainly conservative on policy, and a skilled campaigner. I am not here to defend the disrespectful treatment of her by the NRSC, which announced it would not back her immediately after her win before back-pedaling, or the Castle camp's decision to stealthily campaign against her. I'm not deeming legitimate every mainstream media and liberal attack on her religious beliefs or sexual mores, which have already become as nasty as the ones on Palin.

What I'm genuinely interested in is that, for conservatives, the trauma of Sarah Palin's genuinely horrible treatment by the media does not lead us to reflexively deem assessing a candidate's record or character an act of beytrayal. This political process happened in primaries all over the country, with genuine conservatives often lining up on different sides of the fight. The newfound enthusiasm for excommunication arose in the O'Donnell race because O'Donnell reminded everyone of Palin and her critics consequently  reminded O'Donnell backers of Palin critics, fairly or unfairly.

But O'Donnell is not exempt from this perfectly natural political process simply because she's a conservative woman in the mold of Sarah Palin, just as Mike Castle was not exempt from a conservative challenge from her simply because he was an incumbent. To suggest she is exempt comes close to conferring liberal "special rights" upon conservative women, who as Thompson and Palin and I all agree, are plenty strong enough to do without them.

Now, back to taking the House and a bunch of Senate seats with an enthused Tea Party, great conservative candidates, and an electorate more poised to embrace conservative common sense than in a generation. It's enough to make all the Mama Grizzlies smile, no matter how rough one primary was.

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