Turns Out Bachmann and Palin Are Not, In Fact, Interchangeable

Michele Bachmann has made the news lately with some comments she made regarding the recent earthquake and hurricane that have hit the Washington, D.C. area.

It’s one thing for us to make jokes like this amongst ourselves on Twitter or around the kitchen table; it’s quite another for a Presidential candidate to declare it from a public platform. There are few things more likely to evoke a raised eyebrow and a headshake than a politician claiming support from God, because there are few things that rank that high on the Pretentious Meter.

In fact, one of the many specious attacks against Sarah Palin in 2008 was a rather conveniently edited video that left the impression that Palin was proclaiming a Divine backing for U.S. efforts in Iraq. What one found when one dug up a copy of the video that was not cropped mid-sentence was something entirely different — Palin had in fact been exhorting her audience to pray that we were on God’s side in the matter.

(I know that Bachmann’s campaign has released a statement that she was “just kidding” –that much was evident. But the fact that she said it in the first place is indicative of a brand of tone-deafness that is rather off-putting.)

One of the more tired memes you hear about the 2012 Presidential race is that, with Michele Bachmann in the race, there’s simply not room for a Palin candidacy — as though we’ve reached our quota of Conservative Female Brunettes. But the argument that Palin and Bachmann are somehow interchangeable doesn’t hold up to even light scrutiny, as illustrated by comments like this.  Sarah Palin is skilled in working with and persuading her political opponents, as evidenced by her ridiculously high approval rating as governor of Alaska. Bachmann, on the other hand, specializes in the brand of preaching to the choir that not only irritates and alienates those whom she needs to persuade, but also embarrasses a significant number of choir members.

If the 2012 election comes down to Bachmann vs. Obama, then Bachmann has my vote —  however, considering the fact that I am firmly in the “anyone but Obama” camp, this isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. But I don’t think that the race will come down to that. The United States electorate is deeply divided on more than party lines, and Michele Bachmann is not a uniter.

One of the catalysts that gave rise to the Tea Party movement was self-described “conservative” politicians whose version of “reaching across the aisle” involves their alleged conservative principles grabbing their proverbial ankles. But Mrs. Bachmann, in her weird pandering to the Tea Party, has gone way too far to the other side of that spectrum. I think we can do better.

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