Washington elites' heads exploded when Christine O'Donnell won the Republican Senate primary in Delaware last week. Luckily they were all reading The New York Times' op-ed page at the time, so the mess their exploding heads created was minimal.
The establishment's complaints are confusing. They say O'Donnell has a problem because she's never held a job in the private sector (like our president), didn't pay her taxes (like our treasury secretary), and had her house foreclosed on (like half of the electorate).
They also accuse her of saying crazy things -- but she's running for Joe Biden's old seat, so this may be an advantage.
This week, all we've heard about is how O'Donnell once said she went on a date with a guy in high school who claimed to be a witch. (So what? Bill Clinton married one!) Bill Clinton was credibly accused of at least one forcible rape. Those two seem about equal to you?
I haven't seen hypocrisy like this since -- oh, that's right, since last week when CBS's Bob Schieffer attacked John Boehner for smoking, after two years of the media's ferociously avoiding the topic of Obama's cigarette habit.
The Republican Party is being warned that tea party-endorsed candidates such as O'Donnell might lead to Barry Goldwater-style epic defeats.
Of course, the tea party candidates range from libertarian Rand Paul in Kentucky to Yale Law/Iraq War veteran Joe Miller in Alaska to Christian activist O'Donnell. But any evidence of principle in a Republican is always treated by the elites as if it's an embarrassing eccentricity best kept under wraps.
Referring to "fringe candidates" from the tea party, Morton Kondracke wrote in Roll Call that Republicans are "heading out of the mainstream" and cited Goldwater as a "disastrous" precedent.
David Gergen said on CNN that the tea party candidates may be producing "something like what we saw back the 1960s when the rise of Barry Goldwater seized power in the party back from the establishment, took it, but then went on to get a real drubbing in that '64 national election."
CNN's Gloria Borger also compared the tea party movement's demand for ideological purity to the conservatives' ill-fated nomination of Barry Goldwater.
As a one-off, 46-year-old example, Goldwater is like the Timothy McVeigh of conservative presidential candidates. But if Goldwater is going to keep being used as a boogeyman to scare conservatives, let's at least get the history straight.