You know ? stuff like the slip she made Monday about John Wayne. In an interview with Fox News, she said that the iconic movie star was from Waterloo, Iowa, as she is, and that she?d run her campaign in his spirit.
But Mr. Wayne wasn?t from Waterloo. He?s from Winterset, Iowa, which is close to Waterloo, but not the same place, apparently. Notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy is from Waterloo, though.
RECOMMENDED: Ten facts about Michele Bachmann
As comedian David Letterman noted on his show Monday night, this was not a big slip, but it was a mistake right out of the box, as she just officially kicked off her candidacy Monday.
?Do a little homework, just a little bit of homework,? was Mr. Letterman?s advice to Representative Bachmann.
Letterman added that he himself remembers two things about the Duke: He was in a lot of westerns, and he was a heavy smoker.
?I?m not sure how many votes that?s gonna get you,? he said.
Bachmann spent Tuesday morning making the rounds of network news shows, and she wasn?t really pressed about the Wayne thing. But on ?Good Morning America,? George Stephanopoulos asked her about something else: her past statement that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery.
That?s something most historians would question, seeing that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, among others, owned slaves. But Bachmann defended it, saying that one of the Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams, worked throughout his life to end the evil practice.
Of course, Adams was not technically a Founding Father. He was more of a founding son: It was his dad, John Adams, who was the second president. Bachmann said he counted anyway.
?He was a young boy, but he was actively involved,? she said.
Anyway, we?ll return to the initial question: Are slips of the tongue going to hinder Bachmann?s progress?
They haven?t so far. Many commentators thought she won the first big debate among GOP presidential contenders earlier this month in New Hampshire. Recent polls show that the Minnesota congresswoman is tied with Mitt Romney for first place among GOP candidates in Iowa, that all-important first caucus state.
And flaps about her grasp of Colonial history and/or movie-star birthplaces probably are not going to mean a lot to many voters. Plus, she doesn?t dwell on them, unlike Sarah Palin. Bachmann moves on, apologizing for a mistake and then pivoting to criticize President Obama?s economic policies.
But there is another aspect of Ms. Palin?s rhetoric that might come back to haunt Bachmann, and that is her out-and-out misstatements of fact about current political history.
On Sunday, for instance, Bachmann said that Mr. Obama had released all the oil from the nation?s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. As the fact-checking site PolitiFact notes, that?s not true. He released 4 percent.
PolitiFact on Monday noted dryly that Bachmann is ?no stranger? to its researchers. Eleven of her recent statements are rated ?false? by the website. Seven earn an even worse rating, ?pants on fire.?
Perhaps her handling of facts reflects her general approach to political life. On Tuesday, her former chief of staff published an opinion article in The Des Moines Register that questioned her ability to run the country.
?The Bachmann campaign and congressional offices I inherited were wildly out of control,? wrote former staffer Ron Carey, who is now a supporter of her rival Tim Pawlenty.
Mr. Carey said that he found stacks of unopened letters containing contributions filling her campaign headquarters, and that there were thousands of unanswered communications from constituents in her congressional office.
?If she is unable, or unwilling, to handle the basic duties of a campaign or congressional office, how could she possibly manage the magnitude of the presidency?? wrote Carey.
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost
(Reuters) - Some of the wild statements uttered by Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann are coming back to haunt her now that the Tea Party favorite faces greater scrutiny as a top-tier 2012 candidate.
Bachmann, a conservative member of the House of Representatives, is on a roll due to rising poll numbers and a strong performance in a debate with Republican rivals.
She launched her campaign for the nomination on Monday, trying to position herself as the main challenger to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, to take on President Barack Obama.
But Bachmann's nascent campaign will have to persuade her to show more discipline and try to stick to the facts.
In a television interview around the campaign launch, Bachmann said that iconic American movie star John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa, where she herself was born.
"What I want them to know is just like John Wayne is from Waterloo, Iowa, that's the spirit I have too," she told Fox News.
Fact-checkers quickly pointed out that Wayne was born 150 miles away in Winterset, Iowa, but that serial killer John Wayne Gacy had made his home in Waterloo for a time.
Bachmann was asked about the gaffe on CNN on Tuesday.
"Well again, John Wayne's parents' first home was in Waterloo, Iowa, and he was from Iowa. And of course the main point that I was making are the sensibilities of John Wayne, which was patriotism, love of country, standing up for our nation, that positive enthusiasm of what America is all about," she said.
Beyond John Wayne, there have been a host of other comments Bachmann has made recently that do not hold up to closer scrutiny, such as a comment about food prices made in New Hampshire earlier this month.
"If you threw a barbecue yesterday for the Memorial Day weekend, it was 29 percent more expensive than last year because Barack Obama's policies have led to groceries going up 29 percent," she said.
Political fact-checking website PolitiFact.com said the actual increase in food prices has been about 10 percent.
Bachmann's gaffes and habit of being loose with facts have drawn comparison to fellow conservative and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who made a number of misstatements in the campaign and after.
Beyond gaffes, Bachmann is facing scrutiny elsewhere.
The Los Angeles Times said an examination of her record and finances showed that a counseling clinic run by her husband received nearly $30,000 from Minnesota and the federal government in the last five years.
The newspaper also reported a Bachmann family farm in Wisconsin, where she is listed as a partner, received about $260,000 in federal subsidies.
This from a candidate who argues vehemently on the need to cut government spending.
Bachmann told Fox News Sunday that she and her husband did not get the money to the clinic which she said was training funds for employees, and that the farm had belonged to her father-in-law and she and her husband "have never gotten a penny of money from the farm."
Jennifer Duffy, a political expert at the non-partisan Cook Political Report, said Bachmann, after rising to near the top of the Republican 2012 field in a Des Moines Register poll of Iowa Republicans, will face greater scrutiny from the news media.
"She hasn't really been vetted by the national press corps and that's going to start happening, and it happens starting today," she said.
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost
Let?s look at the critical elements that differentiate Bachmann from Palin:
* Outside the inner circle: After the 2008 election, Palin was the hottest commodity in Republican politics. She briefly sought to expand her decidedly narrow inner circle ? hiring on the likes of GOP fundraiser Becki Donatelli ? but those relationships quickly frayed, leaving Palin on a bit of a strategic island. (Palin?s closest political adviser, according to everyone familiar with her, is her husband Todd.) Contrast that with Bachmann who brought in longtime GOP operative Ed Rollins to manage her presidential campaign and hired a well-regarded pollster she hadn?t worked with before in Ed Goeas. To be sure, Bachmann still has some longtime loyalists ? former chief of staff Andy Parrish and fundraiser Guy Short ? in her inner circle. But her willingness to look outside of her comfort zone for people with know-how at the presidential level is something Palin has never exhibited.
* Not debate-able: Palin has never squared off with other top Republicans in a debate format. Bachmann has ? and she shined in the New Hampshire debate earlier this month. The ability to stand on a stage and look like you belong matters in a presidential race. Palin seems largely content to communicate with her supporters ? and wade into political and policy fights ? via Facebook and Twitter, two decidedly one-way conversations. Ultimately in an presidential primary (or any race), you have to show and prove to voters why you and not the other guy (or gal) should be party?s nominee. Bachmann has shown a willingness to put herself on the line ? and win. Palin, since the 2008 race, hasn?t.
* The importance of Iowa: Every candidate needs a state early in the nominating process where she (or he) can score a win. That?s Iowa for Bachmann. Not only is she already in a statistical dead heat with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in a new Des Moines Register poll but she was also born in the state ? a fact she mentioned no fewer than 400 times in her announcement speech on Monday. (Ok, it was slightly less than 400 but not by much.) Palin doesn?t sit in the pole position in any early state and, in a Register poll conducted in late February, her approval rating in Iowa had slipped from its heights in November 2009. Her situation in New Hampshire may actually be worse. Palin?s visit to the state earlier this month was her first since late 2008 and polling reflects a lack on enthusiasm for her. In a May WMUR/CNN survey, Palin took just five percent in a hypothetical 2012 New Hampshire primary ballot ? well behind the frontrunning Romney who received 33 percent.
* Reaching out, not doubling down: The confounding thing for many political strategists who have watched Palin over the past few years is her seeming refusal to reach beyond her core supporters. The result is that people who love Palin really love her but that is not a large enough group to win her a single state much less the GOP nomination. Bachmann has similarly fervent support among those who identify themselves as ?very conservative? politically but, rhetorically at least, seems to understand the need to grow beyond that base. In her announcement speech, Bachmann bear-hugged the tea party but she also sought to redefine what it meant to support the movement; ?It?s made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who?ve never been political a day in their life, libertarians, Republicans,? said Bachman. ?We?re people who simply want America back on the right track again.?
* Tabula rasa: The simple fact is that every Republican knows Palin and a significant chunk of them don?t like her. In a March Washington Post/ABC News poll, just five percent of respondents said they had no opinion of Palin. Of those who did have an opinion, 58 percent felt favorably while 37 percent felt unfavorably. Compare those numbers to Bachmann?s showing in a new Associated Press poll. Roughly one in three Republican didn?t know enough about Bachmann to have an opinion about her but among those that did 54 percent saw her in a favorable light while just 13 percent viewed her unfavorably. Those numbers mean that Bachmann has considerable room to grow as she gets better known to GOP voters. Palin, on the other hand, is, today, where she would likely end up by the time people start voting next year. There are a significant number of people who like her and a smaller but growing group that don?t. Because she is almost universally known, it?s hard to imagine her image changing in any meaningful way over the next year no matter what she does.
?Are you a flake?? Chris Wallace asked Michele Bachmann, GOP presidential candidate and congresswoman from Minnesota, during a Sunday interview on Wallace?s ?Fox News Sunday.?
?I think that would be insulting to say something like that because I?m a serious person,? Bachmann replied. She did not accept his apology, which was not delivered directly to her but appeared in a web video posted Monday.
And there?s no reason for her to do so ? this was by no stretch of the imagination something you should ask a legitimate candidate, which is what Bachmann is increasingly proving to be, polling just one percentage point behind Romney in Iowa.
But suppose she?d said yes. What?s so wrong with being a flake?
The first trouble with flakes is that the definition seems to have shifted.
According to Merriam Webster, a flake is ?a person who is flaky; oddball? perhaps from ?flake out,? first used in this sense in 1964. Flaky means ?tending to flake,? which is the sort of circuitous logic one of these oddballs would employ, or ?markedly odd or unconventional,? if you hold the dictionary at gunpoint and demand that it tell you everything it knows.
But ask most people under thirty what a flake is, and we will give you the Urban Dictionary definition, ?an unreliable person; someone who agrees to do something but never follows through.?
Urban lexicographer DirkDiggler88 apparently had a bad experience with someone of this description ? his definition elaborates: ?A useless, shady, deceitful person who is so unreliable and selfish they cause you much anger and frustration. A Flake?s only agenda is what they want to do. They have a weak character, often the products of bad parenting/spoiling kids. A Flake will make plans, never attend, and give no reason for their absence, even after they spent hours calling, texting, or emailing you.? He continues for several more sentences, but you get the gist. If you ever make plans with him, make certain you keep them!
So even if one leaps to identify as a flake, there is some ambiguity. Do you hold odd beliefs? Or do you never show up at concerts even though you told DirkDiggler88 that Mozart was your thing? Or both?
?Yes, I am a flake,? Bachmann could have said. ?Flake and proud! When I am not maintaining strange, far-out beliefs, I am failing to show up at events to which I have RSVP?ed.?
But no self-respecting flake would say that. The real charm of flakes is that they do not believe that they are flakes.
Flakes, like People Who Smell Weird, are always defined from the outside. We will admit that, from time to time, we?ve flaked on plans or held flaky notions about the moon landing. But are we flakes ourselves? Never! It?s an allegation that generally comes from people with differing opinions or plans to go ice skating that did not come to fruition after you failed to show.
And in either sense, everyone?s a flake these days. That the world revolves around us is nothing new. It?s only logical that we should be able to do whatever we want all the time ? and that equally means leaving undone whatever we don?t want to do, skipping out on that croquet evening when we see that DirkDiggler88 is less fun in person. Our culture depends on flakes. They supply most of our ideas! And if everyone always went everywhere and did everything we said we were going to do ? well, we can?t have that! We?d run out of canapes!
Besides, who asks a question that way? It wasn?t merely condescending. It was downright stupid. If you want someone to identify as a flake, maybe a more efficient query would be ?Hey, I would like to go to the Creation Museum later to discuss What Really Happened, are you game?? Asking point-blank if someone is a flake is like asking if he?s a liar ? even if it?s true, he?s not going to say yes.
By Alexandra Petri | 05:20 PM ET, 06/27/2011
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost
Due to the double standard the media and comics will not let it rest so it may hurt. The liberal media is picking up where it left off with Palin in 2008. Remember Charlie Gibson looking down his nose at Palin and asking her if she thought she was ready? Did anyone ever look down their nose at Obama like that and ask if he was ready? Palin was ridiculed for thinking being mayor and governor qualified her never-you-mind that Obama was only a community organizer. Hillary's "ducking bullets" gaffe is not what defeated her, but she was a liberal.