A harsh spotlight in Delaware

A HARSH SPOTLIGHT IN DELAWARE…. There have been plenty of campaign debates between U.S. Senate candidates this year, including some very competitive contests in which the eventual winner remains unclear. As far as I can tell, not one of these debates was aired lived nationwide on one of the major cable news networks.

But Delaware’s race has become a unique spectacle because it features one of the most ridiculous major-party nominees in recent history — and no one’s quite sure what she might say or do next.

With that in mind, CNN offered live coverage of the faceoff between Chris Coons (D) and Christine O’Donnell (R), not because it was especially newsworthy (it wasn’t), and not because the race is especially close (it’s not), but because a lot of people really do like to watch car crashes. I didn’t tune in — “Stargate: Universe” was on the DVR — but reading some of the reports this morning, this one has to be my favorite.

Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell tonight totally confused the United States’ history with Afghanistan when talking about the Obama administration’s plan to withdraw troops from the country.

She complained that Obama and Democratic nominee Chris Coons are advocating something dangerous by proposing a drawdown of troops begin next summer.

“A random withdrawal, that he has said he supports, will simply embolden the terrorists to come after us even more, saying, ‘I’ve chased away the superpower,'” O’Donnell said during a nationally televised debate hosted by CNN at the University of Delaware.

Granted, these issues can get confusing, and the fact that O’Donnell confused Iraq and Afghanistan is forgivable, as is her use of the phrase “random withdrawal,” whatever that means.

But this description of recent history is just astounding: “Well if you remember when we were fighting the Soviets over there in Afghanistan in the ’80s and ’90s, we did not finish the job, so now we have a responsibility to finish the job and if you are gonna make these politically correct statements that it’s costing us too much money, you are threatening the security of our homeland.”

Remember, O’Donnell, if elected, has already said she’d like to serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

What else did we learn, other than the fact that Chris Coons apparently has some real policy chops, seems poised to be a fine senator, and knows infinitely more than O’Donnell about every subject? Well, there’s the fact that O’Donnell “stuck with hollow platitudes, frequently contradicting herself when pressed for clarity”; she doesn’t want to talk about her rejection of modern science; she can’t say where she wants to cut the budget; and she can’t name any recent Supreme Court rulings. (When asked to name one she didn’t like, O’Donnell replied, “Oh gosh. Give me a specific one,” which suggests she didn’t understand the rather simple question.)

There are no additional debates scheduled between the two. [Update: I was mistaken. These two will face off again.]