...But they're not the rubes you might think they are.
In general, I shared many of the reservations about O’Donnell that were expressed around here, but I also understand that Mike Castle just wasn’t conservative enough for tea partiers in Delaware. It’s worth noting amidst all this craziness over O’Donnell that there seems to be a hard-to-define yet very real line separating the Republicans that tea partiers will back with reservations from those they won’t support at all. Castle and Scozzafava clearly fell on the wrong side of that line. Doheny, on the other hand, is not the most conservative candidate in the race for NY-23, but he is conservative enough, so his electability will most likely earn him the tea party’s endorsement. The point is that the tea party isn’t suicidal in every race, but it considers some Republicans simply beyond the pale, and it’s understandable why they do. The Democrats’ cap-and-trade bill was a monstrosity — it would be very hard to vote for a Republican who voted for that.
I don't think it's that hard to figure out what the Tea Party wants. They despise crazy spending, ridiculous taxes and idiotic government bureaucracy. All you have to do is look at Mike Castle's support on Cap and Trade to see where he went horribly wrong in the eyes of TPers. C & T would deliver everything the Tea Party hates in one handy-dandy enviro-statist package. Go figure they'd be against Castle.
Crap-n-Tax also has a chance of coming up for a vote in a lame-duck session of the US Senate. Castle would've made for a delightfully useful idiot that would further Harry Reid's lefty machinations:
As things stand now, Reid has demonstrated he has been able to break filibuster by peeling off a few votes for cloture, in particular Massachusetts's Scott Brown and Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. But with the departure of Sen. Ted Kaufmann, the current Delaware junior senator, the Democratic leadership will either have to find one more vote to get legislation through in this lame-duck session, or they have to find one less vote, particularly on cap-and-trade, if Castle wins the race.
The Tea Party folks in Delaware had to be aware of this depressing reality, which is why they made the perfectly understandable decision to dump him in favor of Christine O'Donnell.
I understand the arguments that Mike Castle would've been a more 'electable' candidate than O'Donnell in Delaware's general election. The question I have is: Why the hell should a conservative voter feel obliged to vote for Castle?
If you're on the right, you get no benefit from having this guy in the Senate. He's pro-choice. He supported McCain-Feingold. He's real good at dissing the Second Amendment. He doesn't like school vouchers. He doesn't want to drill in ANWR.
One of these positions would be grating, but not necessarily a deal-breaker for Delaware conservatives. Taken as a whole, Mike Castle's views appear like the resume of a cliche left-of-center douchenozzle. He's way past being just an aggravating RINO. He's a liberal who happens to caucus with Republicans. A cursory glance at his record reveals this.
But conservatives were supposed to ignore the mountains of statism in Castle's curriculum vitae and support him? Get a grip.
If Christine O'Donnell wins in November, it's a great success for the Tea Party and the Right. If she loses to Chris Coons, so be it. But to suggest that Castle would've done conservatives any good if we put him in the Senate is laughable. He would've been a constant irritant, the ever present grain of sand in the bikini bottom of Republican politics. For all intents and purposes, Castle = Coons. It's that simple. Looking at it that way, voting for O'Donnell was a no-brainer.
The Tea Party has shown itself to be adept at making nuanced political decisions. But there are some candidates in some races where they've had to put their foot down. Instead of blindly hammering the TPer's for making the calculations they've made, perhaps we should instead examine why they've chosen to support the issues and candidates that animate their movement.