Respectable national newspapers profile Michele Bachmann

On Nov. 19, not one but two East Coast rags profiled our girl! The New York Times had the more damning headline: Bachmann’s Popularity Puts G.O.P. on the Spot. It uses her campaign for House conference chair, and then withdrawal from the race, to show that the mainstream GOP is not eager to embrace her even though she’s good at getting out the crowds.

Senior House Republican staff members said that while the party’s leaders were eager to have a woman and a Tea Party member in their upper ranks, they were concerned about Ms. Bachmann’s high rate of staff turnover and were not sure she would be willing to deliver the party’s message rather than her own. They were also concerned about her high-profile faux pas, like the claim about the expense of Mr. Obama’s Asia trip or the time on MSNBC’s “Hardball” when she suggested that Mr. Obama might have “anti-American views.” Both of those statements put fellow Republicans in the uncomfortable position of having to either defend her or distance themselves from one of their own. 

Exactly. Note the reference to the high turnover, which of course is code for “she is unpleasant to work for.” And possibly also to work with.

However, that paragraph is directly followed by analysis from a UMN political scientist, and his quote makes us fear for the Republic. No, really.

“Michele Bachmann does not have a strong record as a legislative strategist, and that’s never been her forte,” said Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political science professor. “She says things that are kind of off the wall, but these are often calculated statements on her part, to register with conservative, grass-roots people, and that’s very hard for folks who are not grass-roots conservatives to understand,” he said. “Some of the things she says are zany and embarrassing to other Republicans, but that’s part of what has given her this authenticity.” 

So what he’s saying here is that Bachmann’s popularity is BECAUSE, not in spite of, the fact that she lies. That lies appeal to the far right wing. This doesn’t sound wrong to us (we are after all talking about a group that includes Biblical literalists), but it does kind of make us want to cry. How do you have productive policy debates with people who feel free to choose their own facts? Speaking of whom, the NYT mentioned the Constitution classes without noting that they are going to be taught by a revisionist nutjob.

Meanwhile, the WaPo’s headline says Minnesota’s Bachmann finds herself atop tea party movement, but will it last? It says basically the same stuff, though maybe with more of a “Tea Party vs. establishment GOP” storyline. It does mention that she hasn’t managed to pass any actual legislation, though:

But it isn’t at all clear that Bachmann’s fame will translate into political respect within the Capitol. Many colleagues consider her to be more of a show horse than a workhorse. She has yet to make a mark with a significant piece of legislation and has a reputation as someone more interested in heading to the green room than hitting the books – advancing her own agenda ahead of her party’s. She even set up a YouTube channel in which fans can view clips of her television appearances. 

This article also has a link to a Faux News interview in which Bachmann makes her semi-famous claim that she won’t fill out the Census forms, even though the article doesn’t mention the census thing.


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