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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sociopath alert: Christine O'Donnell

I've always been struck by how there seem to be many more prominent Democrats than Republicans who are obvious sociopaths. (If you're a sociopath who wants to appear saintly, the obvious thing to do is join the party which advertises its compassion, so no one will suspect how little of that emotion you're actually susceptible to yourself.) But Republicans have been striving for years now to be a big tent party, and that tent now houses at least one obvious sociopath.

Christine O'Donnell has received a lot of attention as the Tea Party candidate who wants to take the Senate seat once occupied by Joe Biden in Delaware. Now that she's won the Republican primary, the spotlight she's in is turning out to be very revealing.

The Republican Party had backed Mike Castle, the establishment guy. But after a year and a half of Barack Obama, the voting public is in no mood for moderate Republicans, so O'Donnell has been swept in on a tide of Tea Party fervor. (She bears a superficial physical resemblance to Sarah Palin, which must have made the Delaware voters feel they were getting their own version of the former Alaskan Governor.) But it's apparent why the Republican Party has shunned her.

O'Donnell attended Fairleigh Dickinson University from 1989 to 1993, and even attended graduation ceremonies, although she didn't receive a degree. In 1994 Fairleigh sued her for $4853 in unpaid debts. She finally paid the court judgment in 2003, and after taking one last course, O'Donnell received her degree in 2010. (She had claimed all along that the only issue was one of money, when in fact she hadn't completed her course requirements.)

According to Wikipedia:

"O'Donnell was the founder and president of 'The S.A.L.T.' (Savior's Alliance for Lifting the Truth) and made several high profile television appearances in her role. In 1996 O'Donnell appeared as a S.A.L.T. representative on MTV's show Sex In The 90's, where she advocated for 'sexual purity' when dealing with our 'God given sexual desires'. O'Donnell also advocated against masturbation, equating it with adultery. Two years later in 1998, O'Donnell appeared as a S.A.L.T. representative on Bill Maher's show Politically Incorrect, and argued that since America 'took the Bible and prayer out of public schools' we were now 'having weekly (school) shootings', and that the 1960s 'sexual revolution' led to the AIDS epidemic."

Arguing against masturbation, and equating it with adultery, would at first blush seem merely nutty. But it's also a pose that someone who wanted to appear extremely "pure" might strike. Sociopaths often try to appear saintly, since they want the accolades which they think would ensue, and they think they can fool people into thinking that they are really that noble. This shows no judgment, but sociopaths are notoriously lacking in judgment.

That lack of judgment was also on display when O'Donnell argued that taking the Bible out of public schools had resulted in "weekly" school shootings. Sociopaths often like to hide behind a cloak of religious fervor as well.

In 2004 O'Donnell sued her former employer, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, for $6.9 million for wrongful termination, saying that they had demoted and fired her because of their conservative outlook that women should be subordinate to men. In the lawsuit O'Donnell said that she had been accepted into Princeton University's graduate program, but that her firing by ISI would delay her education.

One small problem: O'Donnell had not been accepted to Princeton. The lawsuit was dropped in 2008. (ISI also claimed that O'Donnell had run a PR business while on their time.)

In 2008, O'Donnell was unable to pay the mortgage on her Wilmington house, so the house was foreclosed upon and due to be auctioned off in August of that year. But she sold it a month before that to her boyfriend.

The IRS has filed a lien against O'Donnell, saying she owes $11,000 in back taxes. O'Donnell attributed this to a computer error.

Falling on financial hard times is certainly no sin; it can happen to any of us. But O'Donnell's obstinacy in not paying off her student bills, her lawsuit against ISI, the way she sold her Wilmington house, and her glib explanation of the IRS lien, all give off a distinct odor of dishonesty.

It emerged this morning, via AOL, that O'Donnell's LinkedIn site claims that she studied at Oxford University, having taken a course called "Post-Modernism in the New Millenium." (Almost any course with "post-" in its title is going to be obfuscatorily liberal in spirit, which hardly fits the Tea Party ethos.) Oxford University, when contacted, said that they offer no such course, although it's possible they have in the past.

Lying about one's academic degrees is a peculiarly sociopathic kind of lie: there's no pressing need to do it, but it makes you look more accomplished. If you get caught in the lie later, so what? At least you get to enjoy the temporary boost in esteem that comes from a prestigious association.

Verdict: a sociopath, and not even a particularly smart one.

(And I'd probably vote for her anyway.)

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