June 28, 2011

The biggest hurdle for Michele Bachmann to overcome in running for the Republican nomination is her penchant for making over-the-top statements for political effect which turn out not only to be untrue but ill-advised as well. She could get away with this as a backbencher in congress but now message discipline is paramount, as is focus. Her appearance on Fox this weekend was focused, and she benefitted a lot from being able to play the victim from Chris Wallace's clumsiness of calling her "a flake". Another appearance on CBS's Face The Nation was less assured, and at times cringe-worthy. This one with George Stephanopoulos today on Good Morning America casts real doubts whether she can handle the scrutiny from being seen as a legitimate presidential candidate, as ridiculous as it is to even write those words in connection with Michele Bachmann.

Her defensiveness and unwillingness to ever, ever admit wrong is Palin-esque. It's not a trait or a habit Americans will find endearing.

Stephanopoulos: But that’s not what you said. You said that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery.

Bachmann: Well if you look at one of our Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams, that’s absolutely true. He was a very young boy when he was with his father serving essentially as his father’s secretary. He tirelessly worked throughout his life to make sure that we did in fact one day eradicate slavery….

Stephanopoulos: He wasn’t one of the Founding Fathers – he was a president, he was a Secretary of State, he was a member of Congress, you’re right he did work to end slavery decades later. But so you are standing by this comment that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery?

Bachmann: Well, John Quincy Adams most certainly was a part of the Revolutionary War era. He was a young boy but he was actively involved.

She said that with a straight face.

On abolishing the minimum wage:

Stephanopoulos: Let me try one more time, so you are saying that the minimum wage is one of those regulations you’d take a look at, you’d try to eliminate it?

Bachmann: Well what I’m saying is that I think we need to look at all regulations, whatever--whatever ones are inhibiting job growth that’s what we need to --

Stephanopoulos: And the minimum wage is one of them?

[Long pregnant pause here.]

Bachmann: All regulations George. I think every department. We have just too much expansion of government and so what we need to do is tamp that down so that the American people can keep more of what they make.

Such performances cast real doubts whether she can last through to the primary season. That would be a real shame because she, like few others, illuminate what the modern-day Republican party has become.

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