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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Could Not Vote For Someone Who Refuses To Debate

My first foray into the Delaware Republican Senate primary a few days ago was to make the point that voters should select the candidate of their choice -- be it Mike Castle or Christine O'Donnell -- and not try to game the overall Senate outcome.

In that prior post, I was careful to make clear that I didn't know enough about the candidates to accept the view that Castle was a "RINO."

One thing jumped out at me, and has troubled me these past few days.

Why won't Castle debate O'Donnell?

If Castle is the better candidate, and his positions on things like cap-and-trade and the Disclose Act are defensible, he should defend them in public in the presence of his opponent.  If his positions on those issues are not defensible, but his overall record is, he should defend his overall record.

It is not a matter of insisting on ideological purity to demand that a candidate set forth his positions and defend those positions before the voters.

The one thing Castle should not have done is show such disrespect for the voters that he refused to debate his opponent face-to-face, where his positions (and hers) could be challenged.

I hate candidates who play hide-and-seek, who put their campaign strategy ahead of informing the voters, and who act like smug Washington insiders while claiming not to be smug Washington insiders.

I cannot in good conscience lambast Harry Reid for stalling debates with Sharron Angle, yet accept when Castle does even worse and refuses to debate at all.

Castle's explanation for his refusal to debate is laughable:
"I have no intention of talking to her," Castle said. "The O'Donnell campaign has been based from the very inception on misrepresenting my record and using the lowest tactics that Delaware has ever seen in a campaign. I don't intend to give a her forum to keep spreading misrepresentations about me or anything I've ever done."
My disdain for Washington smugness is so great at this point in our political life that if I lived in Delaware, I would cast a ballot for Christine O'Donnell based on Mike Castle's refusal to debate.  That refusal tells me everything I need to know.

(audio via Tammy Bruce and HotAir)

Update:  Via Twitter I learned that Melissa Clouthier made a similar point on September 5.
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  1. If we nominate O'Donnell, she will lose the election, and the Democrats will get a Senator who votes with them 99% of the time. If we nominate Castle, he will win Delaware, and we get another vote in the Senate 60% of the time. A Senator who votes with us about half the time, or a Senator who never votes with us. A Senator who votes with us about half the time, or a Senator who never votes with us. A Senator who votes with us about half the time, or a Senator who never votes with us. Hmm. Which shall we pick?

    This is really, really, really simple stuff.

    GOP Petulance about Castle's shortcomings helps Democrats keep the Senate. I'd rather they lost it—wouldn't you?

  2. @Simon - You have not addressed the point of this post, Castle's refusal to debate. Defend that.

  3. I don't have to defend his refusal to debate, Professor, because my claim is that it (and thus, with respect, the point of your post) is irrelevant to the question at hand. That question is very simple: will the next Senator from Delaware be a Republican who gives us a shot at retaking control of the Senate even though he'll probably vote against us half the time, or a Democrat who will be the sandbag that topped the wall against the wave, and who will vote against us all the time. Next to those concerns, hand-wringing over Castle's deficiencies just isn't that important. The election isn't about whether Castle's any good, but whether he's better than Coons. He is. Would O'Donnell be better? Sure, but she won't win.

  4. Professor it is the same situation in FL-22 where Ron Klein refuses to debate Lt. Col. Allen West. Both the Øppressives and the republican elites, in other words the Washington establishment, have refused to give the Tea Party candidate an audience. The political establishment is exhibiting a united front in labeling the Tea Party candidate as an extremist nut job who is out of the mainstream. The republicans especially the NRSC still don't get it. McConnel still has his nose in a snit because Rand Paul won. They still haven't learned their lesson since backing Charlie Crist.

    This article in today's NY Times is a perfect example.

    Allen West, for example, the Republican nominee in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, has become a Tea Party sensation. He has raised more money than any other House challenger — and his opponent — collecting donations from people across the country who have followed him on YouTube as he thunders against the “tyranny” of the federal government.

    But to Democrats, he is an opposition researcher’s dream, captured on video rallying his audiences to “get your musket, fix your bayonet,” questioning whether Mr. Obama is a citizen and urging his supporters to make his opponent “scared to come out of his house.”

    Professor, Allen West has raised more money from fund raisers held by Jews who are fed up. Yet, if Ron Klein doesn't give Allen West the opportunity to debate he suppresses the voice of acceptance of West by mainstream Jews. Capito?

  5. It is the same situation in FL-22. Ron Klein refuses to debate Lt. Col. Allen West. Why, because West has had more fund raisers hosted for him by Jews who are fed up. Klein can't give these Jews a voice. He has to suppress the opposition voice by refusing to debate West. He can't allow the Jews who are against him to be seen as accepted mainstream opinion. Instead he has to label West as a Tea Party extremist wacko nut job.

    From today's NY Times:

    Allen West, for example, the Republican nominee in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, has become a Tea Party sensation. He has raised more money than any other House challenger — and his opponent — collecting donations from people across the country who have followed him on YouTube as he thunders against the “tyranny” of the federal government.

    But to Democrats, he is an opposition researcher’s dream, captured on video rallying his audiences to “get your musket, fix your bayonet,” questioning whether Mr. Obama is a citizen and urging his supporters to make his opponent “scared to come out of his house.”

    The political class on both sides of the aisle are exhibiting a united front to not give the Tea Party candidate a voice. No debate!

    The NRSC has it's nose in a twit because of Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Sharon Angle, and Joe Miller. McConnell hasn't learned anything since the Charlie Crist situation he created. Jim Demint is kicking their butt and they'd rather go down for the count. The NRSC thinks they will use the Tea Party to get the power but then they can whip these Tea Party wackos into submission once they get to Washington. The are in for a rude awakening.

  6. Please accept my apology professor for the double post. I thought my post didn't go through the first time. Sorry.

  7. I don't know if O'Donnell can win in Delaware or not. I saw a poll yesterday, with just under two months to go until the general election, projecting she will lose by double digits to the Democrat.

    However, I also saw a poll showing Scott Brown down 40 points to his Democratic opponent with less than two months to go before his historic win. And while I don't recall Chris Christie ever down nearly that much in NJ, he also was the underdog. And he was up against an incumbent with infinite personal wealth to spend on his campaign (I seem to recall he dropped $30 million of his own money), yet Christie pulled off the win in that deep blue state. Christie probably could not have won in previous years. Now he's being rolled out like a rock start to campaign for Republicans all across the country.

    This is not a typical year. The old paradigms about who "can" win don't seem to apply so far.

  8. Ordinarily I would agree with this position; however, when your opponent has her people out there spreading rumors that you're gay then I have a really hard time getting worked up about a refusal to debate a person who wants to run a campaign like that.

  9. Oh, come on, Professor, NO candidate who is ahead wants to debate -- ever! Deciding whom to support based on campaign tactics is silly. Oh, gee, it's nasty to use negative TV spots! It's awful to take money from...[fill in the blank]. It's terrible when a rich candidate can "buy" an office. Etc. Etc. These complaints make for useful candidate talking points but let's not go erecting them into exalted principles. If O'Donnell is your cup of tea, so to speak, endorse her as the better candidate or the better Senator or both. Don't back into it over an almost universal campaign imperative followed routinely by politicians from left to right.

  10. What is the point of having a majority if you cannot move the nation? Having a majority to just generally go with the socialism/compassionate-conservative flow just takes us that much further down the pagan-statist toilet. Build the brand; do the work; vote for the conservative EVERY time. Take it back precinct by precinct, and election by election, until we can start moving back to a standards-based gov't (whether Judeo-Christian or natural-law - they are close enough for law enforcement and maximum freedom).

  11. I am a long time admirer and supporter of your blog (though not necessarily a commenter). I put a lot of stock in your opinion and your endorsements, especially your tenaciousness in calling out the Reid misrepresentations of Angle’s positions. I’ll have to through some of my dwindling and meager funds her way.

    On this position, though, I have to respectfully disagree.

    I was born and raised in Delaware, and moved back eight years ago as life took me to a few different places along the way. I am a registered Republican, though in reality I am probably more along the lines of a libertarian or even a constitutionalist. My fiscal conservatism is without question.

    There are many things to be bothered about with the O’Donnell campaign, or at least its latest iteration. She runs for office whenever there is a seat to be had, yet the rest of the time we never hear hide nor hair from her. Where, exactly is she and what does she do ? She spurts out the right buzzwords, but I am unsure if she has ever held a real job in her life.

    That the “Tea Party Express”, which cannot rightly be called THE Tea Party, but rather one of its many iterations, does not vett candidates prior to endorsing them was a grave mistake. Her small but extremely ardent band of supporters may be fiscally conservative, but their enthusiasm for her is based primarily on her extremely conservative social views. That the TEA Party is usually quite silent on social issues, at least at the national level, makes me wonder why the TEA Party Express did not consider this aspect of her candidacy. It is an extremely divisive issue here in Delaware.

    O’Donnellis not a right-center candidate; she is an extreme right-wing candidate.

    Her supporters are another issue. I myself have been on the receiving end of some rather rough online tactics for simply asking a question. When O’Donnell travels, she is surrounded by an entourage of what can be called nothing more than brownshirts. These thugs, and I do not use that term lightly, only serve to increase the suspicions surrounding her character and motives.

    I believe that Mike Castle is smart not to debate her. A consort of the usual right-wing groups have asked for a debate, but let us not forget what happened the last time Castle entered this venue. From a year ago:


    No, Castle is not a perfect candidate, and I was disappointed in his Cap and Trade vote (of which I let him know and got a five-page letter in return). But Delaware is a Blue State, so he is realistically the best we can do at this time. He is, to his credit, thoughtful and knowledgeable and I doubt that he ever does anything without extreme consideration.

    The evidence shows that the same cannot be said for O’Donnell.

    With great respect, Professor. Just wanted to get my two cents (well, maybe it was more like a quarter) in.

  12. Ditto what Shirley Vandever posted.

    Sure this is an unusual year, and many Republicans can win who could not have won 2 or 4 years ago. But that hardly means that every Republican can or will win. Voters are funny that way -- they have a knack for sizing up candidates that goes well beyond litmus testing them for 100% conservative (or liberal) purity.

    In a year when the GOP has the wind at its back, there were bound to be many people contending for Republican nominations, many of them fine folks whether "establishment" choices or Tea Partiers. When conservative activists and bloggers begin to automatically throw their support to whichever candidate passes the litmus tests -- sweeping aside all other considerations -- you have begun to operate not as a faction or constituency of the Republican Party but as an outside force the is using the GOP as a vehicle. In fact, many bloggers and commenters on a score of sites like this one make no bones about the fact that they see themselves this way. It's terribly destructive and self-defeating.

    Ask yourself this, Professor: could a candidate more conservative than Scott Brown have won in Massachusetts? Could a Jim Demint-style Republican have won in New Jersey -- or even in Virginia? How about in your home state of Rhode Island, land of oceans of Democrats? How conservative a candidate for the House or Senate could win in RI even in a year of a huge GOP wave?

    This is not a game. Obama and company are playing for keeps.

  13. Well, Professor, I guess you've gotten your comeuppance. We could hardly expect a sensitive plant like Mike Castle to debate an extreme right-winger who surrounds herself by brown-shirts! After a lifetime in government, he can hardly be called upon to explain/defend his policy positions.

    And why would a fiscal conservative support a lifetime big government type like Castle? He voted for TARP, Crap & Tax, Cash for Clunkers, with Pelosi to double SCHIP in 2009, states he won't vote to repeal Obamacare? (He also gets an F from the NRA.)

    Anyway don't live in Delaware but in suburban Philadelphia about 20-25 minutes from the PA-DE border. Most of my neighbors & many of my friends have moved there over the past 10 - 12 years and it's not all THAT liberal.

    I agree it's a crucial year. But if we end up with a new Gang of 14 or 12 or 10 that includes McCain, Lindsey Graham, Mike Castle, the Maine Twins and a few others what will it have done for us?

  14. Let's see...why would Castle not want to debate her?

    It might have something to do with the fact that some of her supporters insinuated Castle was having a gay affair, based on absolutely no evidence.

    It might have something to do with the fact that some of her supporters ALSO insinuated Castle would switch parties post-election, based on a similar lack of evidence.

    It might have something to do with Castle not wanting to legitimize an opponent whose greatest political accomplishment to date was winning the 2008 GOP primary for the same Senate seat she's currently trying to get. She then lost to Joe Biden in the general by 30 points. (She was uncontested in her primary, by the way. First in a field of one is something that I think even I could do.)

    Y'know, if I were Mike Castle, I don't think I would debate her either.

  15. As to Maggot's post earlier...Scott Brown and Chris Christie were justified risks in seats where the GOP seemingly had no candidates who "could win." Castle, by contrast, has led from the moment he jumped in the race. Why risk a sure thing that will be okay on something that isn't sure, and (given O'Donnell's problematic history) probably wouldn't be okay even if we got it? Some people don't want a RINO; what I don't want is a non-serious personality.

    Moreover, the states where Tea Party insurgents have taken nominations are also solid red or purple states where they either will win or have a good chance to win (see: Buck, Ken; Lee, Mike; Miller, Joe; Rubio, Marco). Delaware, by contrast, is pretty blue -- I think Shirley Vandever already pointed this out. Delaware once produced conservatives like Bill Roth and Pete DuPont. Right now, Castle is the best person we have there who can win. If you don't like that, turn your efforts toward rebuilding the Delaware GOP, and take what we can get for now. In a year where THIS SINGLE SEAT could decide control of the Senate, a Castle in the hand is more than worth a bush-league O'Donnell.

    Sure, Castle is a moderate -- and quite arguably a RINO, if you want to go that far. But I'd rather have a RINO than a straight Democrat, and THAT'S the choice here. Nominate Castle, Castle wins. Nominate O'Donnell, Coons wins. If you're a real conservative, frankly, you should want to pursue the outcome that puts the most conservative candidate in office. Here, that means Castle.