EASTON, Md, June 14 2011 — Last night at the New Hampshire debate, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the Tea Party’s darling, successfully rebranded herself for the voters as a sunny, upbeat Conservative. She was more Michelle Obama and less Michelle Malkin.
Former Governor Mitt Romney went into the debates the front runner and he emerged unscathed, clearly in command. No one laid a mitt on Mitt, not even T-Paw.
But it is Bachmann who generated news by announcing she’s definitely running for President.
Yet that’s not the big story. Her reinvention of herself is, and it’s stunning.
Here is this notorious political bomb thrower suddenly selling a sweet package of social conservatism. After all, as she reminded us over and over, she’s the mom of 28 children (five her own and 23 foster children). Not even Old Mother Hubbard could beat that.
Then she went beyond her domestic talking points on anti-abortion and anti-taxes, stressing several times that she sits on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, hinting that she really knows more about what is going on in the world than the men on the stage with her.
With that she lobbed pot shots at President Obama’s foreign policy by slamming the US role in NATO, criticizing America for taking a back seat to France in the Libyan air strikes, and lambasting the Obama administration for not knowing who the Libyan rebels truly are.
Yet for all her criticisms, she was not the wild-eyed Right Winger whose incendiary comments can torch the room but never illuminate it.
Don’t forget this is the woman who once suggested that members of Congress should be investigated for anti-American tendencies.
I miss the old Michele. But now that she is an official candidate we will probably see more of the Mom as Stateswoman than the Minnesota Wild Woman.
Romney Stands Tall
The big surprise of the evening, besides Bachmann’s solid performance, was how tall Mitt Romney actually is. He truly stood above the crowd. And he smiled pleasantly at his opponents, never condescending, but listening thoughtfully as they prattled on.
Next to Mitt, everyone else on stage looked like the cast of an Our Gang comedy with the benign teacher. There was the pretty, perky girl, the whiney kid, the sullen kid, the rebel, the clueless kid, and the wannabe.
And there was Mitt, smiling and smiling, agreeing with his opponents, and gently brushing off criticism of Romneycare, even handling former Governor Tim Pawlenty by not taking his criticism seriously.
“It’s all right, Tim, I know you didn’t mean to insult me by calling my reform of health care in Massachusetts Romneycare. Such slips happen in campaigns.”
Ok, he didn’t say those words, but he might as well have.
Pawlenty went into this debate having to prove he had the Right Stuff, literally. He tried hard, but he’s no Bachman, much less a Rick Santorum.
I hate to write anyone off this early in the game, but T-Paw just didn’t make the case for why he’s the antidote to Romney. Without doing that, there will be no cash flowing in from big donors. Without dollars there is no campaign.
Gingrich More Grinch Than Newt
Last night, Newt Gingrich was so crabby on stage that I wondered if he suffered from irritable bowel syndrome. He was snappish with the moderator CNN’s John King and scowled most of the two hours.
Where was his charming, boyish smile? It was as though since his campaign staff fired him as a candidate, he had become defensive and churlish.
If he wanted to be Mr. Nasty, he succeeded.
With rapid-fire delivery, Newt inveighed against the Obama adminstration as “an anti-jobs, anti-business, anti-American-energy, a destructive force.”
He stopped short of calling Obama the anti-Christ, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had. Newt was that wound up.
As for the others, it was what you’d expect: former Senator Rick Santorum was steely-eyed in his support of what he thinks are American values, former CEO of Godfather Pizza Herman Cain still would question Muslims about loyalty to America if he hired them, and Libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) espoused no government as even better than small government, whenever possible.
Republican Blue Print for America
The theme of the evening was President Obama is the worst President ever in the history of the world and we are doomed if we don’t elect a Republican.
The sub-themes were:
* Regulations ruin businesses, even though it was no-regulations that got us in this pickle.
* The Ryan Plan is brilliant.
* Medicare vouchers are the only way to save Medicare, despite voters outrage at this proposal.
* Government is the bogeyman. Big Business is the savior.
* Taxes are evil, destroying our economy, so roll them back to the good old days of the Gilded Age.
* Patriotism is wonderful. America is wonderful. Republicans are wonderful.
* Right to work is the American way. Unions are bad.
What wasn’t said is interesting to note:
* Nothing about the Middle Class.
* Nothing about Small Business.
* No job plan.
* No solutions, except to starve the Beast, aka the Government.
If you missed the official roll out of the Republican campaign, you missed all the fun. But there will be plenty more GOP high jinks for you to enjoy, starting with the Iowa Straw Poll in August.
And the Tea Party is already gearing up a three week Iowa bus tour with Bachman, Cain, Santorum, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, and Gingrich already signed up.
I can’t wait to hear how they handle the big issue being pushed on this tour: the return to the gold standard. I bet Glenn Beck is already smacking his lips with glee.
See, I told you it would be fun.
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