Thursday, January 06, 2011

These Are Words That Go Together Well

Thousands of people cross the Minnesota-Iowa border every day. Not all of them get wall-to-wall news coverage for it. Apparently Michele Bachmann is going down to Waterloo for some political event. Oh, and by the way, the next presidential election cycle begins in Iowa. And apparently Bachmann hasn't ruled out running for president. It's a story, dammit!

But is it a story, really? A few thoughts:

  • Most of the negative reaction Bachmann garners, both locally and nationally, is absurd. There is an entire lost solar system of intermittently unhinged bloggers in Minnesota who spend their days inveighing against Bachmann. Millions of dollars flowed into the coffers of Bachmann's most recent opponent, the hapless Tarryl Clark, because dyspeptic limousine liberals nationwide get tired of watching Bachmann's effective taunting of them on MSNBC, Fox and whatnot. Aside from Sarah Palin, who has a similar ability to drive liberals nuts, Bachmann has to be the #1 Emmanuel Goldstein for bien pensant liberals who otherwise keep their hostility a smidge more repressed.
  • Effective taunting of liberals is lucrative on both sides of the political aisle. It worked out pretty slick for Tarryl Clark and on the starboard side, Bachmann is an ace fundraiser because she also makes conservatives who are tired of listening to hectoring liberals feel better. The folks in Waterloo know this.
  • While driving liberals nuts is amusing and lucrative, it's not necessarily an executive skill set. For all I know, Bachmann may be an effective administrator who can move people, but she hasn't demonstrated that yet. And when she made a bid for a leadership position in the new Congress, she didn't have a lot of support.
  • Why would that be? My suspicion is that privately most of her colleagues don't see her as a leader. I've always thought of Bachmann as more of a Bob Dornan or William Proxmire type of politician. I grew up in Wisconsin and Proxmire, our senior senator, was always on television handing out his "Golden Fleece" award, which would spotlight an especially unsightly example of government profligacy. Most Americans knew who Proxmire was during his long tenure in Washington, but he had very little actual power in the Senate. At this point, Bachmann is the same way -- she's very well known but doesn't have anything approaching the actual power that, say, her Minnesota colleague John Kline has.
  • So why would the local media devote so much space to a theoretical Bachmann run? One, they need the eyeballs and Bachmann is more likely to attract them than other less, ahem, colorful politicians. But more importantly, talking up Bachmann has the potential of taking away attention from Tim Pawlenty, who actually is running for President.
The proper response? Whatever you want it to be. But on the whole, I'd recommend a certain amount of skepticism. Hell, I'd recommend that for just about anything you hear these days.


Night Writer said...

The Left needs her and Palin for their synchronized 2 Minutes of Hate-fests. Whether their fervor is the cause or the effect of Bachmann's adulation from the Tea Party can be argued.

I don't think Bachmann harbors any delusions about being a bona fide presidential candidate (hard to do from a Congressional seat anyway, right Duncan Hunter?) there's no doubt she plants a magnetic pole in the ground and she will influence the campaigns of others.

Gino said...

you've summed up the whole bachman show pretty well.