I Am Not a Crook -- I Mean a Witch!

Well, this certainly isn't what I would have expected from Christine O'Donnell's first ad:

Way to take that witchcraft issue head-on. The problem with saying, "I'm not X" -- crook, witch, whatever -- is that it makes people think about whether you are, in fact, the thing you're claiming not to be. Not that anyone thinks that O'Donnell is actually a witch, of course, but it does bring right up to the front of your mind all those silly things O'Donnell has said.

As for the "I'm you," that's one of the not-infrequent cases where a candidate tells us explicitly what she's supposed to be imparting implicitly (George H.W. Bush's "Message: I care" being the prototypical case). Problem is, unless she really is you -- and how many 41-year-old, not particularly well-informed female culture warriors are there in Delaware? -- it sounds kind of phony and pandering. A voter might say, "You're not me -- I'm a dude!" Or "You're not me -- I'm 72 years old!" And so on.

-- Paul Waldman

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