I’m You, Unless You’re a Witch, Then I’m Not You

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 5, 2010 — 28 Comments

Committing one of the classic blunders in politics (right up there with starting a land war in Asia), embattled Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell repeats the “dabbling” charges against her in a brand new campaign ad.

“…if you’re Christine O’Donnell, you turn to an advertising guru called Fred Davis, a veteran of many past Republican races, and you get him to make you a 30-second TV advert. The new slot has O’Donnell speaking to camera with a large, homely smile on her face. “I’m not a witch,” she says, which as an opening line to a political advert is pretty grabby. “I’m nothing you’ve heard. I’m you.” A tinkling piano plays in the background and the lighting is soft and welcoming. It has the feel of one of those washing-up liquid ads from the 1970s.”

Since O’Donnell’s  “dabbling” comment came to light it has virtually dominated all coverage of her campaign, including a high-profile SNL skit. But is beginning a new campaign ad with “I’m not a witch, I’m nothing you’ve heard. I’m you” really a good idea? If she’s positioning herself afresh as an everywoman candidate, is starting off by excluding what “you” means going just cause her more trouble? After all, Delaware Pagans and their allies aren’t too thrilled with her already.

No matter how Democrats treat the issue, it seems unlikely that Wiccans will turn out for O’Donnell at the polls. “Her inability to separate anything non-Christian from Satanic is going to be an issue not just with her potential pagan constituents but with any other non-Christians or Christians of a flavor that does not match hers,” said Michael Smith, the Wiccan IT analyst who hosted the meet-and-greet the governor visited. “A couple of my local politician friends say she’s losing the Wiccan vote,” said [Ivo] Dominguez. “Well, I said she never had the pagan vote for the most part to begin with.”

Distancing herself from witchcraft isn’t too shocking, but I wonder what Tea Party-aligned and conservative Pagans will make of this new direction for O’Donnell.

“If this witchcraft admission affects her or not depends on how she handles it. I would like her to come out and explain what happened, not denigrate witchcraft, and then move on. If it was some guy who wanted to get into her pants, that’s what I think happened, she should say so. Ideally she would talk about the difference between Paganism and 1980?s and 90?s style Plagans. I doubt that will happen. A mage can dream, right?”

According to recent polls O’Donnell  is trailing badly, so a risky ad might just work in her favor. It’s also likely that the stream of mockery against her could backfire, and she could end up ahead. Several pundits have noted that it isn’t outside the realm of possibility for her to win. If that happens, we’ll suddenly be confronted with several new questions about O’Donnell, questions that could affect modern Pagans in Delaware and across the country. Questions like: Is she a believer in Satanic Ritual Abuse? There’s growing suspicion that she might be, but there’s no way we’ll be able to separate fact from fiction in the media circus that has developed since “dabble-gate” and the other kooky things she’s said that has been leaked to the press. The feeding frenzy of media around Pagans may be over in this story, but this may not be the last time we’ll have to confront O’Donnell’s legacy.

Jason Pitzl-Waters