It took just 30,000 Republican primary votes in a tiny state, says Frank Rich in The New York Times, to transform Christine O'Donnell "into the brightest all-American media meteor since Balloon Boy," which is to say, a joke. For embattled liberals, Delaware's GOP Senate candidate is "comic gold," a tool to help them belittle the Tea Party movement that helped her win. O'Donnell's dabbling in witchcraft, her dismissal of evolution, and her "fearless stand against masturbation" have been part of a "bottomless trove of baldfaced lies, radical views and sheer wackiness."  Even influential Republicans like Karl Rove "badmouthed" O'Donnell initially, says Rich, but they quickly backtracked: Win or lose, Christine O'Donnell will prove to be a "useful idiot for her party," and they know it. Here, an excerpt:

[Christine O'Donnell] gives populist cover to the billionaires and corporate interests that have been steadily annexing the Tea Party movement and busily plotting to cash in their chips if the G.O.P. prevails... While O’Donnell's résumé has proved largely fictional, one crucial biographical plotline is true: She has had trouble finding a job, holding on to a home and paying her taxes...

By latching on to O’Donnell’s growing presence, the Rove-Boehner-McConnell establishment can claim it represents struggling middle-class Tea Partiers rather than Wall Street potentates and corporate titans. O’Donnell’s value is the same as that other useful idiot, Michael Steele, who remains at the Republican National Committee only because he can wave the banner of "diversity" over a virtually all-white party that alternately demonizes African-Americans, Latinos, gays and Muslims.

Read the full article in The New York Times.