Christine O’Donnell: Stunningly and embarrassingly ignorant.

This is just painful. I think US Far-Right politicians might be trying to disprove evolution by getting dumber and dumber year by year. O’Donnell (Republican) is playing out to be a bigger embarrassment than Sarah Palin. Palin, on the other hand, completed an amazing feat that I don’t think anyone saw coming: she made Bush appear to be relatively intelligent and informed.

Here is video of O’Donnell debating electoral opponent Chris Coons (Democrat).

This is actually unbelievable. She literally – LITERALLY – did not know about the Establishment Clause. It’s at the core of the First Amendment. She’s claiming to be all about the Constitution, and this display suggests to me that she doesn’t even have a firm grasp of the first page of it! She also needed to have her memory jogged, as you saw, on the Sixteenth Amendment. Now, okay, “C’mon, who’s gonna remember every one of them?”, one might ask. Here’s who: a politician who claims to be all about the Constitution and isn’t completely full of crap. “Well, okay, but come on, still. There’s like over 2 dozen Amendments and she was on the spot.” Fair enough. But it was the income income tax Amendment. Y’know, redistribution of wealth. SOCIALISM! BIG GOVERNMENT! TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY! This is Priority One on the Right. And, for the record, I’m not necessarily criticizing ire regarding progressive taxation. I’m a progressive, but I can see the merit behind arguments against progressive taxation. But if you’re going to champion a cause, and if you’re going to wrap yourself in the Constitution, maybe try reading at least the relevant parts of the Constitution before going on stage for a political debate… Just a thought…

And then there was her repetition of the nonsense cover story that Intelligent Design is meaningfully distinct from Creationism. However, to her credit she did say that if local school boards want to teach evolution, they can! As Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks would say, is she not merciful! I was almost gonna give her some begrudging credit for slick trickery – begrudging because of its deceitfulness – when she framed the issue of exclusive teaching of evolution as Coons imposing his views on others. But after proving that she doesn’t know the relevant basics of the Constitution – let alone science or the history of Intelligent Design and traditional Creationism, I get the impression that she actually believes what she said, which is almost as sobering as the aforementioned ignorance of the very foundations of her platform. But on the plus side, at least she’s not a witch.


14 thoughts on “Christine O’Donnell: Stunningly and embarrassingly ignorant.

  1. Evolution only favours those that reproduce more successfully. Her existence is proof that Republicans can still do at least one thing right.

    Perhaps Idiocracy wasn’t so far off in its vision of the future…

  2. Personally I don’t see the need to harp on politicians for their intelligence. What difference does it make?

    Integrity – now THAT would make a difference in politics

  3. Well, intelligence obviously makes a very big difference. But I catch your drift. Far more often, it would seem, political atrocities reflect more-so a lack of honesty and integrity than a lack of intelligence or understanding on the part of the politicians involved.

  4. I don’t think intelligence makes much difference at all. Social intelligence matters, in the sense that it qualifies a person to fill the role of politician. But I don’t think social intelligence or “book” intelligence changes how that role functions very much.

    I think too many progressives wasted too much energy complaining about how “stupid” Bush was. I spent 8 years despising the Bush administration, but I never once made a point of criticising his intelligence or his way of speaking. It was irrelevant. The horror of the Bush Administration was the fact that a small group of extremely intelligent neo-conservatives took control of the American Government and used a national tragedy as an excuse to lie their way into an imperial war and threatened world peace in order to benefit the richest 1% of American society. I can think of several reasons it was silly of progressives to criticize the personal intelligence of the neo-conservatives’ chosen figurehead:

    1. It distracts from the real issues.
    2. It’s a waste of time, because it offers no hope for improving society.
    3. It alienates all of the Americans who related to Bush because he seemed like a friendly and decent guy.

    If nobody has noticed, my fundamental underlying assumption about American politics is that the actual politicians don’t make meaningful decisions based on their intelligence. They are there because they have people skills. Intelligence is provided by the teams of advisors and policy architects. Decisions are based on resources and power structures. And, that rare X-factor which occasionally reveals itself: Integrity

    That’s my two cents.

  5. Oh, I forgot an important one:

    4. It promotes the safe and comforting notion that all of the bad things the Bush Administration did were the result of “incompetence”. They weren’t. They were the coordinated and very effective actions of a cadre of neoconservatives that wanted to secure power in the world. Blaming Bush’s intelligence gave them cover to carry out their plans.


    5. It’s kind of mean.

  6. There has been some talk that she was joking, but the reality is that the First Amendment doesn’t say there should be a separation of Church and State:

     Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    This isn’t to say shes ‘right’ just that shes not wrong in her claims. Every bill in the USA has ‘In god we trust”, at the time the Constitution was written the USA was a religious state, the intent of the first amendment has only come to mean a separation of church in recent times.

  7. Pingback: Christine O’Donnell and The Establishment Clause « Death By Trolley

  8. Randy: You make really good points. And in fact, you’re not alone in the position. George Lakoff, a really well-known cognitive scientist (who studies linguistic and conceptual cognition) whom is very politically active has argued that the “Bush as Imbecile” image actually serves neocons and the conservative establishment’s interests. For one, when things like the Iraq war lead to abhorrent consequences, people will attribute things to stupidity and incompetence rather than malice. Secondly, when a variety of conservative policies fail to have their cover-story positive outcomes and often actually do harm to many, these “failures” can be attributed to executive incompetence rather consequences intrinsic to the ideology and policy.

  9. JP: I think such people would consider going into it, and some of them would actually do it. They just wouldn’t get too far without a willingness to make increasingly grand compromises.

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