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My Problem With Christine O'Donnell

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The Republican Party nominee for Senator of Delaware, Christine O'Donnell, has created quite a stir with her first political advertisement. The advertisement is perfect for O'Donnell because it sums up her entire candidacy: it's a joke.

The whole "dabbling into witchcraft" brouhaha occurred more than two weeks ago, yet O'Donnell returns to it in her first opportunity to talk to the voters of Delaware. The entire focus of the ad is to dispel a rumor that, to be perfectly honest, really did not matter. We all do stupid things in high school. I can't proclaim to have partaken in a date on a Satanic altar, but that's beside the point. It's a high school indiscretion and really here nor there in the grand scheme of things. Yet this is what O'Donnell chose to speak about in her first political advertisement. Not the issues, not her opponent, but her having "dabbled into witchcraft."

There may be a reason she sticks with the witchcraft angle: the other aspects of her candidacy are even more damning. Her continued evidence of outright lying is disturbing. First it was the whole Oxford University scandal, when she lied about having attended the famed school. She said that it stemmed from a LinkedIn profile that she did not create. Then another resume of hers popped up with the same lie. When an employer finds out you lied on a resume, you get fired. It remains to be seen what happens when a candidate for Senate lies on one.

And now, even more unbelievably, is this secret plan of China to take over America according to O'Donnell. During a 2006 debate O'Donnell claimed that the Asian country had a "carefully thought out and strategic plan to take over America." She continued, "There's much I want to say. I wish I wasn't privy to some of the classified information that I am privy to." She never divulged this "classified information." Reading about this episode gave me nightmarish flashbacks to the Bush Administration's claims of having had classified information to win a debate about invading Iraq. This is the last place we need to go back to: scare tactics about foreign countries' perceived threats to our sovereignty.

But let's pretend that she didn't "dabble into witchcraft" and did not have a penchant for spewing lies with uncomfortable ease. What is glaringly bothersome about her candidacy is her lack of articulation on any issues facing the nation. I urge everyone to go to O'Donnell's campaign website. The closest thing to an "Issues" section is "Why Christine?" It is woefully lacking in the substance department. Here is her take on jobs, one of the most pressing issues today: "Believes jobs are created when businesses are freed from endless taxes and bureaucratic red tape." Nothing on how to stop "endless taxes and bureaucratic red tape," just that it needs to end. This is her entire jobs plan. It would not pass a high school remedial politics course, never mind pass as a legitimate plan in Congress (namely because it is not a plan, it is a statement).

To be clear, this is not a phenomenon seen only in O'Donnell. The rising Tea Party faction talks a lot about slashing taxes and spending, but lacks specifics. Beyond being anti-choice and pro-guns, there really is no subject on which they are delving into the nuts and bolts of what's wrong with government spending and dissecting what needs to be done. Cutting taxes and spending are noble notions, but without concrete details and plans behind them they are simply that: notions.

While the soundbites about "dabbling into witchcraft" may be humorous and good for page views and news ratings, they're not the issue here. The issue with Christine O'Donnell is two-fold: she has an uncanny ability to lie without second thought and she has portrayed no understanding of the issues. This is a dangerous combination and one that we do not need more of in Washington.

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