It's fun to laugh at Michele Bachmann. Just as it was fun to laugh at some of Sarah Palin's comments during the 2008 election. During the past election many political pundits knew a McCain Presidency would never come to be and many institutional Republicans blame Palin for the loss. Several weeks ago I had a conversation with a Republican campaign consultant who smirked at the possibility of Bachmann as the GOP nominee. "She won't be the one," the consultant said. Yet, August's Gallup poll showed her among the top three candidates. The top three usually are the ones pundits and reporters believe are the only viable candidates in the race.
That's why the things she has said are fair game. Many people, particularly in Iowa, consider Bachmann to be the brilliant leader GOP voters have been looking for, and there's a third chance, if you take the Gallup poll seriously, that Bachmann will be the nominee.
Here are the top five things Bachmann has said and why they should be concerning for our country.
1. "Not all cultures are equal. . ."
When she was first running for office in 2005, Bachmann said this line during a candidate debate in efforts to convey she believed Muslims had an inferior culture to the western world.
We live in an increasingly globalized world. Thomas Friedman called it a flat world because we're so interconnected. Insensitivity might be a fun talking point for Fox News to poke at, but the reality is that an isolated nation is an endangered nation. We have more at stake than hand shakes and photo-ops. Trade, security, not to mention arms dealing are all things that our country should have a secure handle on at all times. If we have a leader that doesn't care about the cultures of other nations we run the risk of alienating those nations and isolating the U.S. at our own peril.
2. "If we took away the minimum wage - if conceivably it was gone - we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level." Bachmann 2005.
Let's go beyond the fact that this is a classist statement that throws the poor under the bus. Instead, I would like to look at the lack of understanding today's tea party Republicans seem to have about basic economics. Corporations are not your best friends who believe that you and your family should be taken care of. Instead the minimum wage is so-called because it is the basic minimum that an employer is allowed to pay his employee. If they could get away with paying you a quarter, they would because it means larger profits for them. In these tough economic markets there would probably be a worker willing to work for 25 cents an hour. If the competition of a corporation is getting away with paying people only 20 cents the pay could drop lower to allow for even greater profits. This results in a race to the bottom.
While many believe the minimum wage was created just to help eradicate poverty (which it does help with), the reality is it's about fairness and how we value work in a modern society. If we decide as a country that we don't value work above a quarter then suddenly people can make more money scavenging through a stadium after a game than they would serving you food at Denny's.
In the massive economic recession we're experiencing it's not only important, it's critical to have a President who understands the fundamentals of pocketbook issues. Families are hurting and unemployment is high; now more than ever we need a President who will put people first over the needs of corporations.
3. "Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful but there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas." Bachmann said on the floor of Congress in 2009.
After the President selling us out on pollution caps I think we can all agree we're screwed on reducing CO2. Municipalities and insurance companies are already preparing for what they believe will be the impacts of global climate change. But, let's forget that this is a critical issue for a minute and focus on the fact that Bachmann doesn't know what CO2 is. Not even that she doesn't know, but that a professional Congressional staff allowed their member to go onto the floor of the House of Congress and say this.
It's more concerning that someone who is believed to be qualified to serve as a President of the United States and doesn't know that you don't sit in a garage with the engine running.
4. "Gay marriage is probably the biggest issue that will impact our state and our nation in the last, at least, thirty years. I'm not understating that." See the video above.
We all know that Bachmann has a difficult time with the LGBT community. In efforts not to understate it, let's just say Bachmann doesn't like the gays. But it's more concerning that she thinks this is the issue that will impact us over the course of 30 years. This is on the Sally Kern level of belief that the LGBT community is more dangerous than terrorism.
We have serious problems when it comes to protecting our nation and stabilizing our economy. People who believe that social issues are more important are terrifying not just to American voters but also to people trying to do business in our country or with our country. Similarly, there's a problem with a potential President who believes that Gay Rights are more historic than 9/11. I don't mean to belittle our equality movement, but we're talking about a defining moment in our country that is lessened by people like Bachmann and Kern. As Wanda Sykes suggested about Sally Kern's comments about gays being more dangerous than terrorists, perhaps someone like Bachamann will pull our troops from the bases across the world and parachute them into West Hollywood. This might not be the best strategic operation for strengthening a nation's security.
5. "I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending." –Rep. Michele Bachmann, suggesting at a presidential campaign event in Florida that the 2011 East Coast earthquake and hurricane was a message from God (Aug. 2011)
Bachmann later said about this quote that she was joking then tried to say that it was a metaphor. If it was a joke or a metaphor it's in bad taste to be so insensitive to so many people who lost lives and property in a natural disaster. That's not acceptable from a President. Beyond that, someone who thinks that God is enacting retribution on Congress when they're not even in session is to careless even for a joke. Finally, if a deity of any kind were trying to send a message to put America on a spending diet why would that deity send a costly natural disaster? Wouldn't "God" send a stabilization of the economy in efforts to encourage us to cut spending?
With so much insensitivity and disconnection toward American families it's hard to imagine Bachmann being a viable anything.