I Know Scott Brown and Christine O’Donnell is No Scott Brown

Posted: September 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

I am a bi-vocational pastor.   For the past three years, I have ministered largely to 16-36 year olds while working full-time as Director of Development for a Christian legal organization based out of Arizona.  I meet with major donors in 19 states–two of them being Massachusetts and Delaware.

During my tenure, I have met both Senator Scott Brown and senate candidate and current media sensation Christine O’Donnell.   In fact, I have had several substantive conversations with Ms. O’Donnell over the last three years.  I was truly impressed with Senator Brown after our brief meeting…not so much with Ms. O’Donnell. 

Now, Brown and O’Donnell have some things in common–they both are Republicans in states heavily favoring Democrats, they both have checkered pasts (Brown posed nearly nude for Cosmo and O’Donnell delivered several notable gaffes on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect.”) 

Yet, Brown built a respectable career…O’Donnell hasn’t.

Brown rose from abject poverty (raised by a single mother who was on welfare at one point) to work his way through Tufts University and Boston University’s law school.  He become a Lt. Col. in the National Guard, a successful real estate attorney and a philanthropist who raised $5 million dollars for one local charity alone.  Brown has also held several political offices and has been praised by members of both parties.

O’Donnell, on the other hand, has never successfully held a private sector position and made less than $6,000 last year.  She was fired from and sued her last employer, a conservative think tank.  She has even defaulted on several loans. 

Why does any of this matter?

With a few notable exceptions (and perhaps O’Donnell will become one), great political leaders have also possessed great entrepreneurial skills.  For example, Abraham Lincoln rose from poverty to become the most respected attorney in the western states and Ronald Reagan escaped a home dominated by an alcoholic to become a self-made millionaire through film, television and several corporate ventures. 

When I worked in politics, I came to know many “professional activists” and few of them truly contributed anything to the public discourse.  The tend to live in a bubble where everyone on the other side of the political fence is the “enemy.”  It seems to me that we have too many of these folks in Washington as it is.

Christine O’Donnell is down roughly 11-points in the polls but she can still win.  She has the wind at her back and Scott Brown overcame similar odds to win his Senate seat early in the year but what kind of senator would she be? A positive Reaganesque voice who seeks to build coalitions to pass bills that have wide support or another bomb thrower who contributes to the already toxic atmosphere on Capitol Hill? I think the latter but pray for the former.

As a side note, Scot McKnight has raised the question why Christine O’Donnell has created so much media buzz.  He thinks it is because she looks like Sarah Palin…Again, I’ve met both and beg to differ.

Yet, the question as to why there is such a “hubub” over Ms. O’Donnell is a good one but the answer is pretty banal.  She beat Mike Castle.  If you don’t know who that is, don’t worry,  but you can bet that political beat reporters do know.  Castle was a popular 2-term governor and long serving member of the House.  He was a shoe-in to win the Senate seat in November…until he ran headlong into the Tea Party Movement.

The media is fascinated that a group it sees as a bunch of angry, uneducated hillbillies could topple such a political powerhouse as Castle.  Most Americans don’t care about such things, they are fascinated more by O’Donnell’s gaffes such as the “I used to dabble in witchcraft” remark, but media pundits have rubbed elbows with Mike Castle for decades.  In the eyes of the media, it is the equivalent of the Giants beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl.  That simple.

All that being said, I really like Christine O’Donnell even if I don’t respect her as a political leader.  She is a nice person and, because she is pro-life and her opponent is pro-abortion, I would vote for her if I lived in Delaware but I don’t think the Tea Party is doing anyone any favors by supporting folks like Ms. O’Donnell.  They are better off setting forth candidates like Scott Brown or Joe Miller in Alaska who is a West Point and Yale Law grad as well as a former Federal magistrate rather than a very nice lady who has never even held a real job. 

Regardless of which way things go (and the averages of various polls at Real Clear Politics seem to indicate that things are tightening up a bit) I am praying for the election this November and I hope you are as well.  Whoever wins, may they seek to truly bring us together.

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