06.27.11

Bachmann’s No Joke

Her campaign for president just launched, but she’s already being dismissed as a delusional flake. Mark McKinnon says it’s the media who are crazy—Michele Bachmann is a real player.

The world is flat. We know it is. It’s what we were taught—in the Dark Ages. Michele Bachmann is a “delusional, paranoid zealot,” a “flake.” We know she is. That’s what we’ve been told—by a mainlining media.

Conservative women in politics run a punishing gauntlet. They endure psychological evaluations and near-gynecological exams their male and liberal counterparts do not. The public is force-fed only their gaffes in 10-second fixes, while similar misstatements by the current president are forgiven as momentary lapses.

Bachmann is not crazy, but the media are if they continue to view her as such.

Ranked the top fundraiser in the House during the 2010 election cycle, Rep. Bachmann was also the first Republican woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota, in 2006. Prior to serving in Congress, in 2000 she was elected to the Minnesota state Senate, where she championed a taxpayers' bill of rights, drawing from her professional experience as a federal tax-litigation attorney. But her first introduction to politics came out of her frustration as a foster parent with inadequate curriculum standards set by state government, standards she was later successful in repealing in the state legislature.

Bachmann’s frustration again turned to action in the fight over health-care reform in 2009. Whether she or the Tea Party movement was the catalyst, the reaction of heat and light was spontaneous at the Tea Party rally held outside the Capitol building on Nov. 5, 2009. And the conversion of this onetime supporter of President Carter to a leader of a conservative movement was complete.

From her official announcement of her candidacy for the GOP 2012 presidential nomination on Monday in Waterloo, Iowa: “As a constitutional conservative, I believe in ... a limited government that trusts in and preserves the unlimited potential of the American people. I don’t believe that the solutions to our problems come from Washington. More than ever, Washington is the problem, and the real solutions will come from our businesses, our communities, our schools, and the most basic and powerful unit of all—our families.”

Her challenge to the president: “In February 2009, President Obama was very confident that his economic policies would turn the country around within a year. He said: ‘A year from now, I think people are going to see that we’re starting to make some progress. If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.’ Well, Mr. President, your policies haven’t worked. Spending our way out of this recession hasn’t worked. And so, Mr. President: We take you at your word!”

She’s not my kind of candidate. And no one I know supports her. But I know enough to know she has been underestimated and treated unfairly by the mainstream press.

On whom she represents: “It is the voice of constitutional conservatives who want our government to do its job and not ours, and who want our government to live within its means and not our children’s and grandchildren’s.”

Her debate performance in New Hampshire made many in the public and the media take her candidacy seriously for the first time. Here was a woman with more depth, clarity, and strength of conviction than portrayed in those selective soundbites. And the shockwaves were palpable. But for every force, there is an equal and opposite force, and Bachmann’s detractors are now more vicious in their ridicule.

She will be challenged, as every candidate ought to be: Is her vision of America inclusive enough? Is her experience in the House deep enough? Will her ideas lead the nation out of the economic morass we are experiencing? And the all-important question: as she competes with Herman Cain and possibly Gov. Rick Perry for the same social and economic conservative voters in the GOP primary, can she also win against Barack Obama in the general election?

She’s not my kind of candidate. And no one I know supports her. But I know enough to know I shouldn’t judge American voters and candidates by my own distorted circle. She is a rock star with the Tea Party set and social conservatives. And I also know enough to know that Michele Bachmann has been underestimated and treated unfairly by the mainstream press.

She is now a frontrunner in Iowa. And will likely do well in South Carolina.

She’s gonna be a playah.

McKinnon Electability Index

The top 10 factors, using a 40-chad scale (with a maximum of **** for each category).

1. Rationale for running: “Together we can once again strengthen America and restore the promise of the future.” ***
2. Emotional connection: She swings a visceral hammer. ****
3. Resonance/Relevancy of message: She lights up with the constitutionalists. ****
4. Message discipline: Shaky generally, but did well at debate. ***
5. Candidate preparation: Generally on message and focused. ***
6. Life experience: Brings real-world experience. ***
7. Political/government experience: Eleven years of legislative experience, and a movement leader. ***
8. Fundraising strength: Off the charts. She raised $13 million for a congressional race! ****
9. Base: Strong among Tea Party and social conservatives, especially in Iowa. ***
10.General-election appeal: Limited. *