Adlai Stevenson once famously said that in America, anyone could be President, it's the chance you take. Michelle Bachmann, it seems, is determined to prove him right. So watch out closet Communists, today she announced that, at some point in the near future, she intends to form up an exploratory committee and make a run at being the leader of the free world.
According to the Huffington Post:
Tea party favorite and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann is feeling pressure from the political calendar to rush a decision on a White House bid and may announce her intentions as early as May, one of her top advisers said Thursday.
Bachmann, a third-term congresswoman from Minnesota, could form a presidential exploratory committee before two televised Republican debates scheduled the first week of May, said Ed Brookover, a Bachmann adviser.
If you're not familiar with Michelle Bachmann, let me just say that it must be lovely living in one of our western states in a firmly Democratic stronghold. Most of us know her by her notoriously terrible grasp of American history, penchant for hiding in bushes during gay rights rallies and unquenchable desire to bring Tea Party politics to Washington, all of which, depending on who you ask, makes her a terrifyingly strong -- or just plain terrifying -- candidate for the highest office in the land.
For starters, don't underestimate Bachmann. Not only does this announcement usher in a fabulous era of crazy, but she has a disarmingly likable personality and strong fundraising skills. In her last election, which she was never in danger of losing given her remarkable ability to marshal grassroots supports, she raised a cool $13 million from sources both inside and outside her state. And unlike her main Tea Party rival, Sarah Palin, she's demonstrated significant media savvy without falling directly into the trap of the Republican victim mentality, which has colored the public personas of most conservative superstars of the last decade. She's a solid conservative, with a record to prove it, and she's capable of standing up to criticism both in the harsh media spotlight and from her own party, which, if you haven't noticed, has expended significant energy lately ripping apart it's own like it was less of a political organization and more of an MTV reality show cast. Michelle's also made some smart hires in Iowa.
In other words, she may make the response to the State of the Union look like a poorly-developed SNL skit, but she's got Tea Party street cred.
What makes me skeptical (and, mostly, relieved) about the long-term prospects of her candidacy is, quite simply, the timing of her announcement. Michelle's playing coy, but there's a reason that favorites like Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin have yet to even discuss the possibility of forming up an exploratory committee. By the time the big dogs enter the race (May or June), Bachmann will have had nearly four months of high profile campaign experience... and that's what I believe she's going for. The presumptive Republican field reads like a Fox News prime time lineup -- Romney, Huckabee, Pawlenty, Palin, Barbour, Gingrich, Scarborough, Trump -- and while Bachmann's viable, she's utterly untested on a national level, lacking executive experience, foreign policy credibility and any job that doesn't require almost constant campaigning. Besides that, it's clear from the GOP candidate strategy in place for decades that the party owes the nomination to Mitt Romney, whose 2008 Presidential aspirations were cut short by a SNAFU named John McCain. Romney will want -- and will likely be given -- the chance to redeem himself up against Obama, the foe he should have challenged in the last Presidential cycle.
More likely, Bachmann is using the next four months to raise her national profile in hopes of put herself at the front of the list for 2016. With this additional time, she has a shot at proving she can compile an experienced campaign team, handle national issues on a national stage, raise significant money and put forward a cogent message. She has a chance of putting herself on the radar for the next big contest, either Presidential, or -- as most expect -- a late 2012 contest against Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.
My biggest fear -- the one that will keep me up at night as long as Bachmann is making speeches and dressing in power suits -- is that the Tea Party does have this remarkable tendency to... how shall I say this... go ugly early with their candidates. If their selection "strategy" actually exists, it seems to be very un-Buckley-esque, preferring the most outrageously conservative candidate with the most prominent personality issues to the more politically expedient, realistically conservative candidate. Bachmann and Palin are both top contenders if this is the case, with Bachmann being the one less likely to drop politics for a daytime talk show. So, if people seem really excited about Bachmann, be afraid. Be very, very afraid. But also be unsurprised if Barack Obama skates to a second term on the heels of some hilarious debates.
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