Last night, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) joined Sean Hannity to talk about the hypocrisy of Tea Party demonization, the Democrats’ love affair with government intervention, and the Obama Administration’s support for net neutrality. The segment was solid, but in my opinion didn’t offer anything out of the ordinary. Mediaite’s Frances Martel, however, uses the interview as a springboard to ponder Bachmann’s role on the Right:
When she talks issues, Bachmann proves a formidable force within the Republican party– and that’s what makes it so difficult to understand precisely what her role is in the grand conservative revival mostly lead by amazingly talented orators and tamed agenda-spewing robots. What does the organized American right do with a more accomplished, more intelligent, more beautiful but insanely unreliable version of Sarah Palin? Bachmann is calm, collected, and convincing enough of the time to keep her House seat safe, but for every respectable performance on Fox News, there’s a call to armed rebellion or paranoid shouting about how some Democrat or another wants her dead. For now it seems that they are keeping her marginalized, limiting her to preaching to the choir on Hannity or being let out in public closely leashed to Sarah Palin. And there’s no telling whether she has it in her to polish up her act enough to convince the mainstream she’s not a nutcase.
Martel’s characterization of Bachmann nuttiness isn’t entirely fair—follow her own “paranoid shouting” link, and you’ll see that Bachmann did not accuse Bill Clinton of wanting her dead—but she’s right that the Congresswoman has said a few stupid things from time to time. The “armed and dangerous” line Martel cites isn’t a genuine call to violence, but it is careless (the same for her “slit our wrists” remarks). Most disturbingly, she’s a little too close for comfort to professional crank Ron Paul. On the whole, though, Bachmann is a passionate, eloquent spokeswoman for conservative principles, and if she puts a little more discretion into her public pronouncements, she has terrific potential to become an invaluable leader of the movement.
Whatever Bachmann’s merits ultimately are or aren’t, who is “keeping her marginalized”? What else would an unleashed Bachmann be doing right now beyond appearances in conservative media and on the speaking circuit? Somehow, I doubt the RNC would be capable of keeping a lid on Michelle Bachmann even if they wanted to.
Note well how favorably Martel compares Bachmann to that horrible nitwit Sarah Palin. I’m reminded of an observation Ann Coulter makes in her classic book Slander (Chapter 7, for those of you following along at home)—the Left will regularly speak favorably of certain Republicans for the express purpose of criticizing others they perceive as a greater threat:
The current Republican is always dumber than all of the dumb Republicans who preceded him. Bush is dumber than Dan Quayle, who was dumber than Ronald Reagan, who was dumber than Dwight Eisenhower and Calvin Coolidge. Astonishingly, the left’s propagandistic purposes have recently demanded even Reagan’s rehabilitation in order to attack George W. Bush’s intelligence with greater vigor. This is nuance in liberal argumentation: dumb and dumber.
Another example validating Coulter’s thesis: remember how quickly John McCain went from hero to zero among the media once he became the one thing standing between Barack Obama and the White House?
The charismatic, effective Palin may be Public Enemy No. 1 at the moment, necessitating some temporary good will towards Bachmann, but it’s safe to say the Left registers her as a threat, if currently a lesser one. That should teach conservatives one thing: pay close attention to both of these formidable women.