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This week, Delaware Republican Senate candidate and sworn enemy of masturbation Christine O'Donnell unveiled a new ad declaring, "I'm you." But if that formula to reposition herself as an average American sounds hauntingly familiar, it should. After all, it was Linda Tripp, opposed as she was to presidential oral sex, who said the exact same thing after her 1998 testimony in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
It was, as you'll recall, Linda Tripp who clandestinely taped her conversations with - and confessions from - Lewinsky. (For this, Time dubbed her "the Friend from Hell," concluding "there isn't much doubt, within a circle or two, about where Dante would have pigeonholed Linda Tripp had he been able to foresee such an apparition--a false counselor wired for replays.") But to Americans disgusted with her betrayal and moralizing, Tripp protested:
"I understand that there has been a great deal of speculation about just who I am and how I got here. Well, the answer is simple. I'm you. I'm just like you. I'm an average American who found herself in a situation not of her own making.
I'm a suburban mom, who was a military wife for 20 years, and a faithful government employee for 18 years.
I never, ever asked to be placed in this position. Because I am just like you."
Twelve years after Linda's plea and 11 after announcing she "dabbled into witchcraft," Tea Party darling Christine O'Donnell dusted off the Tripp script in her new ad:
"I'm not a witch. I'm nothing you've heard. I'm you.
None of us are perfect. But none of us can be happy with what we see all around us: politicians who think spending, trading favors and back-room deals are the ways to stay in office. I'll go to Washington and do what you'd do.
I'm Christine O'Donnell and I approved this message. I'm you."
The meek voice, soft lighting and soothing background music leave no doubt this spot is just the first step in Christine O'Donnell's extremist makeover. Of course, to do the Full Linda, the Old Adventures of New Christine will need to add a Tripp to the cosmetic surgeon.
And unless you also were chosen by God to have access to classified information about China's looming takeover of the United States, Christine O'Donnell is not you. She does, however, however, sound like the next incarnation of Linda Tripp. Or as Bill Clinton might say, "close, but no cigar."
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)