Christine O'Donnell's Secret Knowledge of Chinese Plot Against America

"Stay classy, Christine!"

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To be fair, liberal pundits were already having a field day with Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell's odd proclamations long before this last peculiarity came to light. Still, Delaware-watchers were amused to learn Wednesday that, in a 2006 campaign debate, O'Donnell insisted that China was plotting to take over the United States, saying that China had a "carefully thought out and strategic plan" which she couldn't talk about: "I wish I wasn't privy to some of the classified information that I am privy to," she aparently added. Pressed on the matter, O'Donnell reportedly said she had gotten the information from nonprofits with missionaries in the country. Commentators and China experts tried to make sense of it:

  • 'It's Not the Concern About Takeover That's So Far-Fetched,' explains The Atlantic's James Fallows, a former resident of China. "It is the 'privy to classified information' riff that, to anyone who knows anything about the world of politics, instantly signals, 'I am completely insane.'" He explains:
the idea (a) that there would be a secret document laying it all out, (b) that it would have come into her hands, and (c) that her confidentiality oaths would bind her to protect it--all this instantly connects her with the vast reserve armies of conspiratorialist lunatics that anyone in any branch of public life (media, politics, civil service) encounters over the years.
  • This Is Getting Weirder and Weirder  "I've long assumed," writes The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen, "that O'Donnell is just a ridiculous right-wing activist who managed to win a low-turnout primary." Now, though, he continues, "given her delusional claims about access to classified Chinese intelligence, and her outlandish lies about her own educational background, I'm starting to think there may be something deeply wrong with Christine O'Donnell." This has stopped being funny, he suggests.
  • Easy to Verify, notes Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. "Either she had a security clearance in 2006 that would have allowed her to see 'classified information,' or she didn't and she was just making stuff up. I'm going with option two."
  • And Her Debating Opponent Was of Chinese Descent  "How did I miss this?" wonders Fallows in a followup. "Stay classy, Christine!"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.