As November 2nd draws nearer, it seems that the stumbles and fumbles of key Tea Party candidates just keep on coming. This has given rise to ever more questions about the fitness and viability of some of the leading candidates for public office running beneath the Tea Party banner.
Not to lean too heavily on the much maligned Christine O’Donnell, but when a candidate for a seat in the U.S. Senate can’t name one recent Supreme Court decision that she disagrees with, one can only roll one’s eyes so many times before one has to dismiss this woman’s candidacy altogether for the farce that it obviously is. Covering O’Donnell’s debate with Chris Coons for Politico, David Catanese made the following observation:”She also failed to name a recent Supreme Court decision she agreed with — a moment reminiscent of the infamous question that tripped up Sarah Palin during her interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric. O’Donnell paused for a few seconds before telling the questioners she would get back to them and “put it up on my website.” Catanese went on to observe that: “Wednesday night’s nationally televised Delaware Senate debate showcased Christine O’Donnell’s great strength – as a feisty tea party upstart exuding personal charisma, as well as her primary weakness – as a flawed candidate carrying a heap of baggage who at times appeared out of her depths on substantive policy questions.” So let me get this straight, Ms. O’Donnell wants to take a moment or two to “research” her favorite Supreme Court decisions and then she will “get back to us”. Are we really supposed to take this candidate seriously or is this someone’s idea of a spoof? Beyond that Ms. O’Donnell seems to be confused as to who is actually charged with judicial review under our system of checks and balances, saying: “when I go to Washington, D.C., the litmus test by which I cast my vote for every piece of legislation that comes across my desk will be whether or not it is constitutional.” Funny, but isn’t that the job of the Supreme Court?
Next is the apparent waffling or misinterpretation of Rand Paul’s position on taxes. Three days ago, Paul stated to The American’s for Fair Taxation: “The federal tax code is a disaster no one would come up with if we were starting from scratch. I support making taxes flatter and simpler. I would vote for the Fair Tax to get rid of the 16th Amendment, the IRS and a lot of the control the federal government exerts over us.” Yet today, Paul’s Campaign Manager, Jesse Benton, hit the airwaves saying said that this representation of the candidates tax views was:” the result of an “overzealous” anti-tax advocate who misstated Paul’s position when he quoted the candidate.” But according to the Louisville Courier-Journal: “Over the past few days, Paul has distanced himself from the Fair Tax despite mounting evidence that he has, indeed, voiced support for the plan.” Okay so what are the voters supposed to believe? Rand Paul was for the Fair Tax before he was against it? If so why the flip-flop? Where does the candidate actually stand on this issue and what are the voters supposed to base their decision on, that he favors a national sales tax of 23%, the so called fair tax, or he does not?
Finally there is New York’s Tea Party candidate for governor, Carl Paladino, who veteran conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer called the “most suicidal candidate” in the 2010 election cycle. In an article that appeared in today’s Washington Post, “Your pre-election post-mortem” Krauthammer opined: “Carl Paladino is running in a deep-blue state with sky-high taxes, yawning deficits and rampant corruption. The last elected Democratic governor resigned in disgrace, and his successor is so tainted that he dare not run for another term. So, what does Kamikaze Carl proceed to do? Get in an angry shouting match with a reporter. Level some odd insinuation about his opponent’s “prowess.” Figuring he hasn’t veered off-message enough, he then expounds on homosexuality — and spends three days having to explain and reaffirm, before the inevitable apology. He’s down by 19 points.” Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, Paladino seems to have done just that with both barrels blazing.
So what is the rank and file Tea Partier to do? If you live in Delaware, Kentucky or New York how can you bring yourself to vote for candidates who either don’t understand the process of judicial review, whether or not they actually support a national sales tax or what their actual message is? Isn’t the Tea Party supposed to represent an alternative to business as usual? If this is what three of the major contenders under the Tea Party banner represent, in terms of policy and perspective, are we any better off with candidates of this caliber or will they likely guarantee more ineffective government due to their inexperience, lack of depth and inability to articulate what actually is their position on a given issue? These are serious questions that every voter must ask before they can vote for any of the above candidates with any degree of comfort or confidence.
Steven J. Gulitti