Sarah Who?

WASHINGTON – So, the Hillary effect continues to pave the way for women, bringing forth the first serious right-wing conservative candidate with a worthy resume, Michele Bachmann, who has announced her candidacy in Iowa. A meeting was immediately called by the GOP Establishment to figure out what to do about This Woman. I’m joking on that last one, but I bet phone calls have been exchanged.

Forget political pedigree, executive experience or ties to deep-pocketed donors. No Republican presidential candidate is better positioned to capitalize on the recent tide of conservative anger toward President Barack Obama than Michele Bachmann. Her charisma and crossover appeal to both social and fiscal conservatives have the three-term Minnesota congresswoman rising in the polls and primed to make a serious impact on the GOP nomination fight.Bachmann well-positioned for Iowa, and maybe beyond

CNN’s Peter Hamby’s “charisma and crossover appeal to both social and fiscal conservatives” narrative gets it right.

Coming off her Fox News interview clash with Chris Wallace, Michele Bachmann continues to gain traction with Republicans. But as Karl Rove said several weeks ago with Bill O’Reilly, the path to the presidency via the House is arduous, dismal and unsuccessful.

The National Journal has an interesting piece on Bachmann:

Bachmann goes out of her way to portray herself as a different kind of Republican. In an interview with National Journal last month, she talked about her teenage years as a Democrat (she worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign), her post-doctorate degree in tax law, and the business she started with her husband, Marcus. As she has in other forums, Bachmann also spoke about the 23 foster kids the couple raised in addition to their own five biological children. “People don’t necessarily think of a Republican, especially a conservative Republican, as having a heart, much less compassion,” she said.

[...] All the while professing great admiration for Sarah Palin, Bachmann appears irked by the seemingly inevitable association between her and the 2008 vice presidential nominee. Both are polarizing figures who appeal to—and turn off—the same constituencies. But there is at least one striking difference between the two: While Palin remains at war with what she calls “the lame-stream media,” granting her only extended recent interviews to Fox News (where she’s employed as a commentator), Bachmann has opened her office and her life to the press. She’s also showing she has a lower gear: In an interview Sunday on CBS News’s Face the Nation, Bachmann more narrowly focused her criticism of Obama on his stewardship of the economy and suggested she regretted calling him “anti-American” in 2008.

Bachmann is understandably “irked” by the Palin association. While Sarah readies for her close-up in Iowa over a movie meant to reinvent her, Bachmann’s running for president with her stock going up on the Right every day, but not because of some publicity stunt. It’s because as she goes into the “lamestream” media’s sights she seems to have learned from her innumerable gaffes, with the pros on her team schooling her on being a disciplined candidate, with Bachmann humble and willing enough to listen, which is paying off.

Well, at least it was until Bachmann saw a reporter wanting to chat and leaned into the moment on John Wayne. Ed Rollins will have to take her aside and seriously school her that an open mic is not a presidential candidate’s friend. But Iowans for Bachmann very likely won’t care. However, Sarah Palin fans were delighted.

Sarah Palin’s refusal to listen to Roger Ailes after the Loughner tragedy in Arizona is a prime example of why Sarah’s seen as frivolously silly in comparison. Not even a celebrity sighting at her big movie premiere today will take her from third tier status, now that Bachmann’s started tracking.

Oh, and how the flop sweat inside team Timmy Pawlenty’s campaign headquarters must by pungent about now.

There is no right-wing Republican candidate that can take it to Pres. Obama better than Bachmann. It’s early, but she’s making a case that she’d be a formidable vice presidential candidate on the GOP ticket, especially if Romney continues to soar with the establishment, if Republicans can get over their Sarah Palin veep disaster nightmares. Unlike Palin, in a debate with Joe Biden, Michele Bachmann wouldn’t be forced to ignore questions because she couldn’t answer them or rely on tricks to remember Biden’s name.

Bachmann won’t get the credit, but right-wing politics aside, she’s the first credible conservative female candidate in modern Republican Party history.

And though I don’t expect a nomination fight to rival 18 million cracks in the presidential glass ceiling, it’s always a good day when politically competent, serious females vie for the highest office in the land and in the modern world. It’s just alarming that women like Bachmann are doing it on a platform that includes taking freedoms away from women.

Taylor Marsh is a Washington based political analyst, writer and commentator on national politics, foreign policy, and women in power. A veteran national politics writer, Taylor’s been writing on the web since 1996. She has reported from the White House, been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her blog.

TM Note: photo via Jon Karl on Twitter

3 Comments

  1. The gaffes you link to, and many more (like hiding in the bushes to spy on gay pride), are why many non-conservatives think she is mentally unbalanced. However, lately, she’s been well managed. It will be interesting to watch her candidacy. Will her campaign staff succeed in keeping her carefully controlled or will the real Bachmann come out? Would it even matter to most conservatives?

  2. Mornin’ Zzzzz – Only Rep. Bachmann can cool her own ego, which is what talking into every microphone is about. It’s the death of most politicians. The ones who truly succeed learn to leave the press and the people wanting more.

    It’s too early to predict, but she has a chance to amass serious power for the GOP convention, or a vice presidential bid, and barring that, a primetime speech, though that’s not her intent.

    Frankly, Republicans could do a lot worse & have.

  3. It is only partially ego, TM. The other part is being entirely too honest about what she actually believes, which is far too extreme for most non-evangelicals. That is what consultants (aka image managers) are for. They point out the things that might seem perfectly fine to her and her circle of friends, but will alienate significant portions of the country.

    I’m sure the GOP could do worse, but that is a VERY low bar.

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