Having to defend a candidate like Christine O’Donnell is an exhausting task. Finding her bizarre beliefs and troubled financial history almost impossible to defend, the right-wing has moved to demonize her Democratic opponent Chris Coons.
On the face of it, the County Executive of New Castle County appears to be a talented, progressive Democrat. Before he became involved in local politics, Coons has a long history in the non-profit field: he participated in relief work in Kenya, assisted the Protestant anti-apartheid South African Council of Churches, and in the US worked for the National Coalition for the Homeless and the “I Have a Dream” Foundation.
But according to conservative commentators, he is a crypto-Marxist boogieman who make “community organizers” look like Republicans!
Although he came to Amherst as a young Republican, his political views became more progressive, especially after his time in Kenya. Coons’ Republican friends joked with him about becoming a “bearded Marxist,” and he included the joke in his college newspaper profile which he wrote as his Class’s Commencement Speaker: “My friends now joke that something about Kenya, maybe the strange diet, or the tropical sun, changed my personality; Africa to them seems a catalytic converter that takes in clean-shaven, clear-thinking Americans and sends back bearded Marxists.”
Of course innocuous sarcasm doesn’t stand a chance in the conservative echochamber: Sean Hannity on Fox News said that Coons “made some very anti-American statements, apologizing for America and calling himself a bearded Marxist,” and Glenn Beck called him a “staunch anti-capitalist.”
The American Spectator’s Jeffrey Lord took umbrage with the fact that Coons wrote about studying “under a Marxist professor at the University of Nairobi,” which effectively makes him a Marxist! Now back from Kenya (more than 20 years later), Coons is “determined to get to the Senate and be an agent of the Obama radical redistributionist agenda.” R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. also of The American Spectator finds suspicion in his “African sojourn” that made him into an anti-American Marxist. Tyrrell says that he “loves taxes” and “shows no scruples about keeping his hands off other people’s property.”
Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily claims that Coons “himself may have ties to Black Liberation Theology” and even discovered another “avowed Marxist” professor that Coons took a class with: Cornel West. Of course, West is one of the country’s most prominent philosophers and thinkers alive today, and studying under a professor does not make you bound to his or her views. Yet none of this makes a difference for right-wing smear artists.
With the GOP’s radical candidate Christine O’Donnell trailing Coons by wide margins in all of the recent polls, is it any wonder that they are now using jokes to disingenuously discredit her opponent?