The Tea Party movement has largely downplayed most of the Christian Right social agenda. That was a wise tactical decision. Anti-gay prejudice is running out of steam, and the Terri Schiavo affair and the stem-cell debate demonstrated that lots of people who like “small gummint” when that means “not taking my money to give to people who don’t look like me” also don’t want the government to get in the way of relieving suffering, no matter what the preachers think.
Sarah Palin is no fool. She’s a creationist and a politician, but she’s not a creationist politician. She’s solid enough with the fundamentalists not to have to waste her political capital saying things that appeal to them but freak out the soccer moms.
But the mini-Palin running in Delaware isn’t nearly as clever. Christine O’Donnell, back when she was between campaigns and pursuing her full-time career as a wingnut talking head, told Bill O’Reilly:
American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains.
That’s nonsense, of course, not only about the present but about the future. A mouse brain weighs about 2% of what an adult human brain weighs; there’s no way a mouse body could support a “fully functioning human brain.”
(To be fair to O’Donnell, perhaps she has a different idea than you and I have – not wrong, mind you, merely different – about how “fully functioning human brains” operate. That would explain a lot.)
Forget the Delaware contest, which now seems well in hand. There’s a bigger objective here. Pinning Palin to O’Donnell, and all Republican candidates to Palin, and doing it on stem cells and the whole Republican anti-science agenda, mobilizes an important piece of the Democratic coalition and de-mobilizes the educated swing voters who have been drifting back to the Republicans since 2008.
Even though Judge Lambeth’s anti-stem-cell-research ruling is on hold pending appeal, it provides the occasion for the Democratic leadership to force stem-cell votes before Congress goes home. That would be a terrible opportunity to waste.