All that being said, although nominating Christine O'Donnell to be their standard bearer was well within the rights of Delaware Republicans, I suspect it won't turn out to have been the Tea Party's finest hour -- or Sarah Palin's.
Oh, sure, O'Donnell's going to have a hard time pulling in enough independents to win in a state as liberal as Delaware -- and that will be a shame if it turns out that Republicans win nine of the ten seats they need to take control of the Senate. It makes a big difference which party controls the Senate committee chairmanships, from Judiciary to Appropriations to Finance to Foreign Relations. But again, if Delaware Republicans decide instead to take a chance on a rock-ribbed conservative Republican rather than a moderate one, that's their decision . . . and one that Republicans elsewhere can and should respect, even if they disagree with it on purely pragmatic grounds (which is where I come down).
No, my big problem with O'Donnell is the discomfitingly long list of issues of personal rectitude that have arisen during the course of the campaign. Oh, you know -- the gender discrimination suit against ISI, the allegations in which presupposed that O'Donnell had obtained her bachelor's degree, when in fact she had not. And the outright falsehoods her campaign told about her opponent -- a technique that the MSM simply won't tolerate against a Democrat. The allegations of financial mismanagement and the fact she still owes money to her 2008 campaign. Taken all together, it sounds to me like Ms. O'Donnell is a little bit of a nut.
I hope I'm wrong. I'd love to be able to apologize to Ms. O'Donnell for having misunderstood all these issues. But I fear that's not likely.
And in the end, if all this is true, Tea Partiers and Republicans generally are going to be put in the position either of repudiating someone whose stated political views are largely ones we share -- or else descending to the depths of hypocrisy by endorsing a profoundly flawed candidate that we would lambast if she were a liberal (and rightly so).
Ultimately, it's a shame to lose the Delaware Senate seat, if that's what happens. But it's acceptable to do so represented by a worthy candidate whose views are simply too conservative for the state she's running in. It's untenable to do so because Republicans and Tea Partiers somehow nominated someone whose behavior and record do not match the decency and forthrightness of their own.