- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2010

Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party-supported Republican candidate for Senate in Delaware, has no secrets. The press even has gone back to her high school years and found that she “dabbled” in witchcraft. But now Jeffrey Lord of the American Spectator has been scrutinizing her opponent, Democratic candidate Chris Coons. Mr. Lord did not have to go back to Mr. Coons’ high school days. He found quite a lot in Mr. Coons’ infatuation with Marxism, starting in college. Mr. Coons found Marx about the time that large numbers of Marxist polls behind the Iron Curtain gave him up. By the 1990s, even jailers and torturers were forsaking old Karl, but not Mr. Coons.

Now, if you read about Mr. Coons in the New York Times or The Washington Post, you will not find anything particularly diverting about him. He began college as a young Republican and ended as a young Democrat. As the Post writes in profiling him, he “spent time in South Africa and Kenya doing relief work.” The Times never mentions Mr. Coons’ African sojourn but only talks about his later work with the homeless, the Investor Responsibility Research Center and the “I Have a Dream” Foundation. Apparently, he has been a goody-goody, but in the end, a bore.

Yet Mr. Lord went back further. He found that before Mr. Coons became the Democratic opponent of Miss O’Donnell, he was profiled in early May in Politico. In that profile, Politico reports that as a 21-year-old about to graduate from Amherst, he wrote a piece in the college newspaper that was titled “Chris Coons: The Making of a Bearded Marxist.” Apparently there was more to that trip to Africa than he would like voters to recall or than the Post chronicled.

Mr. Coons reported in the student newspaper that his trip to Africa was what we now call a transformative experience. “[I]t is only too easy to return from Africa glad to be American and smugly thankful for our wealth and freedom,” Politico quotes the returning student. “Instead, Amherst had taught me to question, so in turn I questioned Amherst and America.” The groundwork for this questioning began before he left for Africa, during a course in cultural anthropology that “undermined the accepted value of progress and the cultural superiority of the West.” A course on the Vietnam War also caused him to “suspect … that the ideal of America as a ‘beacon of freedom and justice, providing hope for the world’ was not exactly based in reality.”

Then came his trip to Kenya. “I became friends with a very wealthy businessman and his family and heard them reiterate the same beliefs held by many Americans: The poor are poor because they are lazy, slovenly, uneducated,” young Mr. Coons wrote. “I realize that Kenya and America are very different, but experiences like this warned me that my own favorite beliefs in the miracles of free enterprise and the boundless opportunities to be had in America were largely untrue.” He found a moral equivalence between Kenya and the United States and became a “beardless Marxist.”

My guess is that he is still a Marxist. Certainly he shows no scruples about keeping his hands off other people’s property. As county executive of New Castle County, Mr. Coons promised voters he would keep taxes down. Once elected, he raised property taxes by 5 percent in 2006, by 17.5 percent in 2007 and by 25 percent in 2009. He loves taxes. Mr. Lord tells us he has proposed to raise hotel taxes, paramedic taxes and something heretofore unheard of. Mr. Lord tells us that Mr. Coons has a proposal to raise taxes on 911 calls. Mr. Lord discovered that by reading Byron York’s report in the Washington Examiner.

I hope both Mr. York and Mr. Lord will continue to review Mr. Coons’ record. The entire mainstream press is at work on Miss O’Donnell, and they have Bill Maher the funnyman on their side. He had her on his comedy show in the 1990s, and the two clowned around together. Now Mr. Maher is calling her indiscreet - but what about him?

Mr. Coons apparently did not have to appear on a clown’s show to be indiscreet. He did it in college and in his later work as a goody-goody bore. Just how radical was he? Stay tuned. Mr. Lord is on the case, and he has the ear of Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. They are broadcasting Mr. Lord’s findings to an ever-wider audience. Maybe the race for the open Senate seat in Delaware has just begun, and it is fitting that it is Vice President Joe Biden’s seat. At any rate, mainstream America is no longer dependent on mainstream media for the news. There are Mr. Lord and Mr. York and Mr. Hannity and Mr. Levin. What will they come up with next?

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is “After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery” (Thomas Nelson, 2010).

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