Do you know what's surprisingly hard to find in a quick search of the Interwebs? A sense of which policy issues the newly minted Delaware GOP Senate nominee and certified "sideshow freak" Christine O'Donnell actually ran on during her successful insurgent campaign. Her Wikipedia page lists all of three briefly described positions–on "abortion," "gun rights," and "masturbation." Her Democratic opponent clucks that Delawarists want "a leader focused on creating jobs, not promoting bizarre conspiracy theories and an extreme social agenda." News reports (understandably) focus on her bizarro-world resume (which Michael Moynihan detailed yesterday), and on the hot right-on-right rhetorical action following her election. But seriously, what did she run on?
According to WBOC News (Delmarva's news leader!), the one issue O'Donnell emphasized when kicking off her campaign was this:
"Voting to spend money we don't have has become the appealing option for too many politicians. The men and women of America know this is not sustainable."
The News Journal of Wilmington ran a long pre-election thumbsucker, saying the primary has been "short on issues, partly because of [Mike] Castle, who has spent the bulk of the race ignoring O'Donnell." When the article finally got around to describing those issues, it came up with this:
O'Donnell opposes budget earmarks, traditionally used in Congress to fund local projects. Although Castle has submitted earmarks over the years, last year he joined several Republican House members in revoking all of their earmark requests.
When the financial crisis hit, Castle voted with Republicans to give assistance to banks. O'Donnell has attacked Castle for that vote, which he said was necessary to save the economy, although he voted against the stimulus. […]
Both opposed the health care reform act. Castle voted against it, but O'Donnell said she would go further and work to repeal it.
Castle said parts of the health care law make strides in improving access to medical care in a more cost-efficient manner. He said he would support repeal, but only if the bill was replaced with a Republican version that cuts costs while maintaining the improvements.
Delaware has already joined several surrounding states' cap-and-trade program that limits greenhouse-gas emissions by industry and requires any company that exceeds its allotment to pay a penalty. Castle voted in favor of a proposal that would extend that regional program to the nation.
O'Donnell said the program will drive up electric bills. Castle said the nation needs some program to reduce greenhouse gases, but current cap-and-trade bills in Congress, even the one he voted for, are not acceptable.
So, O'Donnell (in rhetoric, anyway) is more staunchly anti-earmark, anti-TARP, anti-Obamacare, and anti-cap-and-trade, all of which she stresses more than her Norman Maileresque views on self-abuse. At every campaign stop she emphasizes being "anti-establishment," reverent of the Founders, and in tune with Tea Party nation.
One way of interpreting O'Donnell's upset victory is as a sign that insane anti-masturbators are emerging from America's fever swamps and marching toward Capitol Hill, ready to sic ex-gay-ministry counselors on Barney Frank in the unlikely event they can get past Democrats on Nov. 2. And maybe that's true. But I might propose an alternate way of looking at it: Anti-spending and anti-establishment sentiment is running so strong right now that even an obviously flawed, possibly nutsoid political neophyte looks better to a lot of people than just another TARP supporter. While I'm troubled by the former, the latter bothers me very little. But then again, I'm no Republican, and I'm certainly no David Frum.