Newly elected Republican Senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell has raised eyebrows in her brief turn in the public spotlight by promoting a position on cultural issues that borders on the extreme or the bizarre. By and large, however, her political platforms have been characterized as, basically, movement conservatism.
In the New York Times's profile of her candidacy, for example, the authors meandered through some of the crazier quotes from O'Donnell's past (such as her screeds against masturbation) before noting her desire to "repeal the health care law, create health care vouchers for veterans and block any attempts at cap-and-trade legislation."
Dig a little deeper into her past record, however, and one gets the sense that O'Donnell's legislative outlook is basically scripted by her social and religious views. In a C-SPAN appearance the Huffington Post unearthed from December 1996, the Delaware Republican said it was a "misconception that you, quote unquote, can't legislate morality."
"The reality of that statement is that if you don't legislate one morality then you are legislating somebody else's morality," she said. "So you can't get around legislating morality."
To her point, she offered a lengthy denunciation of the government's implementation of welfare and food stamps, blaming the two programs for fostering laziness and encouraging drug use.
"I think that drug use is out of control here and there is something called tough love and what has happened with the liberal welfare program implemented in the last decade is they have cultivated an attitude of dependency," O'Donnell said. "The reality is, especially in my own city here in D.C., is that a lot of those people who do deal drugs are using federal money that they get from welfare programs. We need to implement a tough love program.
"We know that people will abuse the system. They will find a recovery program that can enable them to continue in their drug use as long as they get federal funding. We see the same kind of abuse with food stamps... people are abusing our compassion."
More broadly, she condemned lawmakers for fostering a pop culture that encouraged sexual harassment.
"We sit there and scratch our heads and wonder why sexual harassment is out of control in this country. It is because we are setting a precedent through our pop culture, through the songs that penetrate the airwaves and the sitcoms that are on television that are just saturated with sexual themes, that respect no boundaries," she said. "We need to just do a U-Haul of our pop culture. I think legislators, Hollywood film producers all need to reevaluate why they are doing what they are doing... We end up feeding a demon, feeding a monster and we are feeding this appetite so much that our generation is going to self-destruct quite honestly."
It's far from rare for a lawmaker to bring his or her religious or cultural convictions into politics. O'Donnell's theories on Hollywood and welfare, moreover, are echoed by others within the conservative movement. But the totality of her remarks -- coupled with her seeming skepticism of the need for a filter -- make it clear that she would find herself firmly on the periphery of the GOP tent should she end up in the Senate.
HERE IS VIDEO OF O'DONNELL'S C-SPAN APPEARANCE: