Following her tea party-fueled victory in Delaware’s GOP senate primary this past week, Christine O’Donnell has soared to national prominence faster than you can say “Sarah Palin.” In fact, many are likening O’Donnell to the mama grizzly herself.
Let us count the ways:
• A folksy style that laughs off her party’s hierarchy. (We’re talking about you, Karl Rove).
• A working class background to be proud of.
• A certain kind of femininity attractive to both men and women. (In a Daily Beast column headlined “Watch Your Back, Sarah,” Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson warns Palin “not to be upstaged by the new It Girl on the block.”)
• A stick-to-her-guns attitude. (Addressing the conservative Values Voter Summit in Washington Friday, O’Donnell resuscitated the “death panel” charge against health care reform.)
• A meteoric rise in media attention.
• And a tendency to colorful rhetorical flourishes like, “I can see Pennsylvania from Delaware.” (OK, we made that up.)
Liberals and Democrats are dredging up O’Donnell’s checkered past – not hard to do, since establishment Republicans already had done that in promoting US Rep. Mike Castle for the senate post. One who is not doing that is Chris Coons, O’Donnell’s Democratic opponent in the race.
“I thank you for that gentlemanly approach,” O’Donnell replied.
Republicans love to tar Democrats with waging “class warfare” on things like the federal minimum wage and whose taxes to cut.
But some observers are beginning to see class as an issue within the GOP itself as it struggles to balance its traditional view of who should be in the club with the tea party insurgency that has notched significant wins over establishment Republican candidates in this year’s primary elections.
Americans like to think of themselves as living in a classless society. That’s one reason we revolted in the first place. But that’s never been true, whether one is a Democrat or a Republican.