Did you see the debate between Christine O’Donnell and Chris Coons? Oh my. It reminded me a little of the debate between Biden, then a senator from Delaware and Sarah Palin. Christine O’Donnell even looks like Sarah Palin. No winking though in this debate, but there were some eye-popping moments, like when O’Donnell told Coons that his time was up and when she skirted the question of her beliefs on evolution. She said her beliefs didn’t matter – that the teaching of creationism as an equal theory to evolution should be a local decision, which means of course she doesn’t believe in science.
She says, “it is the constitution that I will defend and it is by the constitution that I will make all of my decisions, and that will be the standard-bearer for every piece of legislation that I will vote on.” Where in the constitution does it say that local school districts have the right to teach a religious creation myth alongside a scientific theory in public schools? It doesn’t. However, the constitution does prohibit laws that establish religion – known as the establishment clause which was clarified by Jefferson to mean that government and religion should not mix – that they should remain separate.
Allowing creationism to be taught in public schools is not only unconstitutional, it creates a slippery slope. If you teach the Judeo-Christian creation myth from the bible, you would need to give equal time to the thousands of creation myths the world over. And who is qualified to teach them? The science teacher?
O’Donnell called Coons a Marxist for an article he wrote where he jokingly referred to himself as a bearded Marxist. He replied that he had never been anything other than a “clean shaven Capitalist”. I am no Marxist, but clean shaven Capitalist does not inspire trust. I would have liked to hear him say “clean shaven Capitalist with a social conscience.” But you know, if he had, people would have construed that – or Fox News anyway – would have used that to fear monger. They’d label him a Socialist. And the terms Marxism, Socialism, Capitalism, Nihilism, Fascism have lost their meaning because they’ve been bandied about so recklessly in the media and used in propagandistic ways; hallow rhetoric to steal a phrase from Ms. O’Donnell.
One of the better moments in the debate came when Wolfe Blitzer asked her to be specific about the cuts she would make and to please not just say waste, fraud and abuse. She said she would “cancel the unspent stimulus bill and put a freeze on non-discretionary – on discretionary spending and put a hiring freeze on nonsecurity personnel and then of course, when we talk about government spending, we’ve got to talk about waste, fraud and abuse”. She talked a little about Medicaid waste and “schoolhouse pork” and then attacked Coons for raising taxes and cutting policemen pay. She dodged the question, spoke in very general terms and attacked Coons.
Poor Coons kept saying things like – “there’s so much to respond to” and “one minute may not be enough” to try to deal with O’Donnell’s spread strategy which is a debaters term for making many rapid fire arguments to try to overwhelm the opponent and keep him on the defensive. The problem was that she was not terribly coherent. She had the talking points memorized but fell flat when off script.