Sunday, August 14, 2011
Congratulations, Congresswoman Bachmann!
On Saturday, Republican presidential candidates faced off in Ames, Iowa for a straw poll to see if an early leader might be discerned from the crowded slate. I'm not convinced that the results of this non-binding event have any real relevance, but the national political punditry has been giving it a lot of air time, so what the hell? (After all, they've got to have something to talk about, eh?)
The big winner, barely squeaking past perennial libertarian candidate Ron Paul (R-TX), was none other than Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. Ms. Bachmann received 29% of the 16000+ votes cast which was enough to give her the first place finish and euthanize the presidential campaign of former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. Once the results were in, even Pawlenty could see that his distant third place finish wasn't going to be enough to get the big donors to write him any checks.
Mitt Romney had a very poor showing, but that was expected. Former Governor Romney didn't spend much time or money in Iowa. He has opted instead to put his eggs in the New Hampshire primary election basket, which will come on the heels of the Iowa caucuses later this year. Meanwhile, on the very day of the straw poll, Texas governor Rick Perry announced his own candidacy from South Carolina, where his brand of neo-Confederate rantings sells well amongst the mint julep crowd.
Nonetheless, despite the most fervent wishes of Mitt and Rick, the day belonged to Michelle Bachmann.
I have to imagine that the king-makers in the GOP are quite perturbed by Ms. Bachmann's victory. Were she to win the Republican nomination, it would be a mortal blow to the plutocrats and robber barons at the top of the GOP. It would mean that, no matter who won the general election, the President would not be their tool. Because, like her or hate her, Michelle Bachmann is a rabble-rouser and a populist. And the plutocrats can't have that, which is why they are now floating Rick Perry as a substitute.
Whispers are also floating around that the Obama administration is elated to see Bachmann succeeding. But if those whispers are true, I think the Obama organization had better think again. President Obama's popularity is low enough to make him vulnerable, and the base of the Democratic party, the Left, progressives and liberals, are dispirited and unenthusiastic.
If you watch the cable talkie shows, you know that Ms. Bachmann is the target of much scoffing and ridicule by pols and pundits. On the left, she is considered a lunatic and an extremist. On the right, she is an embarrassment. Apart from Sean Hannity, no one takes her seriously.
But I'm not so sure the dismissals are justified.
Firstly, having caught glimpses here and there of her campaign events, Ms. Bachmann's organization seems well-run and professional. (Her campaign manager is long-time national Republican operative Ed Rollins).
Secondly, Ms. Bachmann is positioned very well to co-opt the boisterous low-information voters who have been left searching for a candidate in the wake of Sister Sarah's fizzle.
And lastly, Ms. Bachmann wields the power of conviction. She really does believe that crazy sh*t that she learned when she was attending Oral Roberts University. She is the genuine article; much more so than cynical, greedy Sarah Palin who, by the way, made a bus stop in Iowa on Saturday to pitch some book or movie or some other scam.
If the Republican party truly wants to represent its base, Michelle Bachmann is the most deserving of the announced candidates. She's a full-on Know-Nothing. And I'd welcome her nomination. Not because I'm certain that President Obama would defeat her in the general election. I'm not at all certain of that. The reason I'd welcome her nomination is because the Bachmann versus Obama election might finally lay out the Know-Nothing creed, in all its glory, for all Americans to see. And, finally, Americans could decide if it really is what they want, what they believe.
And so I say with all sincerity, congratulations, Congresswoman Bachmann.