Christine O'Donnell, meet Krystal Ball, who knows a thing or two about how to play the publication of "embarrassing" photos or material. But judging from O'Donnell's response to the publication of her ladybug-costumed makeout, maybe she already knows what's up.
O'Donnell is behind 21 points in the polls, a gap unlikely to close, and politically, liberals should be much more worried about, say, Nevada. But she must be feeling pretty lucky these days: Instead of talking about how her campaign threatened to "crush" a radio station for... taping an interview with her, we're talking about what kind of douche reacts that way to unmown grass and feeling kinda bad for O'Donnell.
She declined to discuss it with a sympathetic Sean Hannity, but did issue this statement:
This story is just another example of the sexism and slander that female candidates are forced to deal with. From Secretary Clinton, to Governor Palin, to soon-to-be Governor Haley, Christine's political opponents have been willing to engage in appalling and baseless attacks — all with the aim of distracting the press from covering the real issues in this race. Even the National Organization for Women gets it, but Christine's opponent disturbingly does not. As Chris Coons said on September 16th he would not condone personal attacks against Christine. Classless Coons goons have proven yet again to have no sense of common decency or common sense with their desperate attacks to get another rubber stamp for the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda. Such attacks are truly shameful, but they will not distract us from making our case to Delaware voters — and keeping the focus on Chris Coons' record of higher taxes, increased spending, and as he has done again here, breaking his promises to the voters."
(Initially, it read like this. Feel free to earn her a few more Palin-points by mocking whoever doesn't know the difference between condemning and condoning.) O'Donnell has easy bait in condemning Gawker, but the tougher sell is linking it to Coons, who even in anyone's wildest imaginings wasn't plausibly involved, and if he hasn't condemned it yet, it's probably because he doesn't want to get entangled in it.
There's the warped implication that even the National Organization For Women, which helped codify the concept of sexism in public life, can see that O'Donnell has been slimed. (It's a bit like Pastor Eddie Long saying family-friendly workplace policies happened in spite of feminists.) Conservatives lately want to claim that feminism was their idea, only without the feminists and the inconvenient part about policies that help women other than their own. There's also the version where O'Donnell and Palin say they admire Gloria Steinem without any clear idea of what she stands for apart from their own vague notion of ladypower. Still, "feminism" is always there when you need it, albeit in twisted or diluted fashion.
Especially when one blog post seems to have turned a lot of people into feminists (or renewed their commitment to it), and there's some feminist-commissioned data available to O'Donnell's camp that doesn't require them to contort that much. A study commissioned this year by several women's political groups under the "Name It, Change It" banner found that sexist attacks significantly dented a theoretical female candidate's support, but that direct response helped them rebound: "The female candidate calling the discussion 'inappropriate' and 'meritless' and turning back to issues - and after a more direct counterattack that decried 'sexist, divisive rhetoric' as damaging to 'our political debate and our democracy.'"
In this case, it won't hurt O'Donnell, because the backlash has already been so severe, and because she was already a punchline to everyone but the most disingenuous or dim-bulbed Republicans, so she didn't have far to "fall," and because as alleged hypocrisies go, drunkenly making out with someone a decade after you went on TV to talk abstinence is not a slam dunk. And then there's the ick factor about the narrator. As Amanda Hess put it this morning, "A story that says, 'Christine O'Donnell thinks sex is bad. Guess what: It is!' doesn't exactly succeed on the old hypocrisy front."
By the way, The Village Voice's Foster Kamer appears to have unearthed the kisser-and-teller. You can join our founding editor in sending him your pubes. Or, you know, helping make sure he never gets laid (or something in the neighborhood of it) again.
O'Donnell Campaign On The Universal Condemnation Of The Gawker Story [Facebook]
Dustin Dominiak: The Guy Who Sleazed Christine O'Donnell, Says Friend (Updated) [Village Voice]
On Sex, Repression, And Hypocrisy [TBD]
Sean Hannity Asks Christine O'Donnell About Gawker's One Night Stand Story [Mediaite]
Sexist Insults Hurt Female Politicians [USAT]