Season of the Witch

Reported bid to lure Christine O'Donnell to "Dancing With the Stars" leaves us bewitched, bothered and bewildered

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    We can just imagine the song list: "Witchcraft." "That Old Black Magic." "Running With the Devil."

    Christine O'Donnell's announcement that she's been asked to join "Dancing With the Stars" probably shouldn't be shock as much as more evidence that too many TV programmers are under a spell where novelty and notoriety somehow make for entertainment.
                  
    We're just guessing now, but perhaps it’s only in this country where you can go from an abstinence advocate who once "dabbled into witchcraft" to a U.S. Senate candidate for a major party to a hoofer on a glorified game show.

    Fame and infamy are interchangeable these days, with both redeemable at the nearest reality show or cheesy competition program for D-listers devoid of the decency to fade away or the desire to reinvent themselves in a positive fashion.

    "Dancing With the Stars" seems to draw more than its share of political types. Former GOP House Majority Leader Tom (The Hammer) Delay competed while under indictment. He lost the contest – and his court case.

    More recently, Bristol Palin, daughter of former GOP vice presidential candidate and O'Donnell supporter Sarah Palin, nearly danced her way to victory on the popular ABC show. Bristol Palin, who recently mused about going into politics someday, also appeared on her mother's reality show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska."

    Sarah Palin, meanwhile could become the first reality star to become president – unless Donald Trump seals the deal first. Maybe Trump  figured politics was easy pickings after interacting with Democratic disgrace Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor, convicted felon, pistachio pitchman and failed contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice.”

    We should be thankful – and we suspect old-school GOP leaders are grateful – that Tea Party honey O’Donnell isn't serving the people of Delaware in Washington. But, sadly, O’Donnell, who told her Facebook followers that she’s mulling the “DWTS” offer, probably would have a more powerful platform on the network dance floor than on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
            
    In a strange way, we can blame Bill Maher for this odd Reality TV tango. More than a decade ago, when O'Donnell was a mere abstinence shill, he made her a semi-regular guest on "Politically Incorrect." More recently, when she was running for office, Maher dredged up her goofy "witchcraft" comment from a 1999 appearance, probably dooming her electoral chances and making her a national punch line.

    It also turned her into what passes for a celebrity in our freak show of a popular culture. So instead of O’Donnell being a footnote to a bizarre, divisive time in national politics, millions of people may soon be closely watching the right-winger to see whether she has two left feet.

    Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.