"Every leading Delaware Republican knows that Christine O'Donnell is way out of the mainstream," is how her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, happily analyzed the Senate primary victory of the Tea Party-supported, and anti-masturbation, candidate O'Donnell.
Well, that's the question: What's the mainstream?
It does seem that everybody, including Karl Rove, believes that the Palin-backed O'Donnell isn't in it. But how far out of it is she?
Rick Lazio, himself rather far from the theoretical mainstream of New York voters, but an uncontroversial and dogged fixture in the Republican party, was defeated yesterday by Tea Party-backed Carl Paladino, a socially aberrant figure in too many ways to count. In other words, even if the mainstream is moving toward the Republicans (and that's far from certain in New York state), these new Republican candidates are moving much more swiftly away from it.
That's what the Democrats hope. That's what the Republican establishment fears.
Except the other thesis is that the new mainstream is more and more becoming an inversion of the old mainstream. The old mainstream, precisely because it is the mainstream, is a handicapped place. It represents a type of behavior and a set of assumptions that can't compete in terms of media, theatricality, or vividness of language, with more outré behavior and this new sense of political plasticity and fabulousness. I.e. the center cannot hold.
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