I met with Christine and her campaign manager, Matt, in the Pittsburgh area (actually, Cranberry Township, Butler County) earlier this week. I have talked perhaps 100 times each with Christine and Matt, and I was prepared to be impressed in a face-to-face with them. Frankly, I was overwhelmed by them. I expected a lot, and I got more than I could have imagined.
I'll be writing today and tomorrow about Christine, why I think so highly of her, and why I believe she can win -- and perhaps win big -- in a "Blue" state (Delaware) where few people (at least in the Republican Establishment) give her much of a chance.
When a woman in politics is beautiful -- and Christine's pictures do not do her justice -- she will always be underestimated. It's certainly that happened with Sarah Palin. The stereotype goes this way: "If a woman is extremely attractive, well, life must balance it out by making her shallow -- and even a little stupid, right?" I assure you there is nothing shallow or intellectually-deficient about Christine O'Donnell. She has the infinite curiosity that is the foundation of intelligence.
Revelations in a Chinese restaurant: Christine, Matt, and I spent about four hours in a superb Chinese restaurant partaking of the best buffet we'd ever encountered. We ate . . . and ate . . . and ate. And talked . . . and talked . . . and talked. The great people at the restaurant didn't charge us anything extra (and kept bringing us endless amounts of iced tea), even though we were there munching away from lunch time into the dinner hour. (The restaurant is in the back portion of the Cranberry Mall, north of Pittsburgh).
What did we talk about when we weren't consuming sushi and endless other delights? We didn't talk about politics! We talked about a book Christine is putting together. She handed me a hundred pages of notes and speeches she'd given . . . along with DVDs . . . and various books, especially one by "Karol Wojtyla," better known as Pope John Paul, II."
At one point, Christine looked me in the eye and said, "I'm a Catholic 'girl.'" She meant it not only as a fact, but as part of her continuing challenge to herself. She didn't have to tell me that Jesus Christ and her Church were constant presences in her life. It was obvious they were.
I didn't detect any element of "holier than thou." Christine was talking about an imperfect being, herself, who wants to be a better person. God wants her to be the very best Christine O'Donnell, a totally unique individual, that is possible in this vale of tears. She believes, like John Paul, II, that our individuality and uniqueness are printed on our hearts. How do we become better people? And how does that "betterness" manifest itself in our relationships with others? Love is easy to talk about -- but hard to give.
As I indicated earlier, this wasn't your usual discussion about how can we improve our "poll standing" with suburban women in Delaware. This was a young woman totally enthralled with the example Jesus Christ set 2,000 years ago. "How do we love our neighbors in a world where so many people seem . . . downright unlovable?" That may be the true riddle of the universe.
Yes, my friends, this was one of those life experiences that will not be forgotten. Matt and Christine are two ardent Roman Catholics who are trying the impossible: to make their own lives a witness to the fundamental truth of the Christian message of faith, hope, and charity. It was one of those moments, well, four hour's worth (including sushi) that one wishes would go on forever.
Will Christine win a tough Republican primary in September? Will she win a perhaps tougher general election on November 2? I think both Christine and Matt (joined by yours truly) would says, "If it's God's will, she will." As Dante said, "In God's will is our peace." The ultimate goal in life is not victory, which is temporary, but peace, which is eternal. You can learn a lot in Chinese restaurants.
And what about my many (many, many) Jewish friends, Pamela, Sharin, Ellen, Laura, Jeff, and others? To quote a much-loved nun/teacher of mine so many years ago, "God will take care of them!" On my Jewish friends and Baptist friends (Katherine Jenerette highlighted), let me paraphrase poet John Donne, "I expect to see them glorified." Without our friends, heaven would not be heaven.
More tomorrow about my remarkable adventure in Cranberry Township. Between now and the general election, I'll have something up every day about a few key political races this year. God bless you all.
[Note: I'd like to dedicate this piece to David Hust, back in Delaware working on Christine's campaign. David is delaying his entrance into the seminary to help his friend get elected to the U.S. Senate.]
Christine O'Donnell, Matt, Cranberry Township, John Paul, II, Chinese Restaurant, Cranberry Mall, Delaware U.S. Senate Race, John Donne, Dante, Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, Katherine Jenerette, David Hust