SAN DIEGO, July 2, 2011 —
Starting advantage for Michele Bachmann’s campaign: She reminds the powerful Tea Party movement of Sarah Palin!
Starting disadvantage for Michele Bachmann’s campaign: She also reminds the rest of the country of Sarah Palin!
Unfortunately for our forthcoming election, important similarities between Bachmann and Palin, such as their conservative stance on issues, will play second fiddle to a reputation of gaffe making. In the tradition of Palin’s Paul Revere commentary, Michele Bachman is offering controversial history comments of her own, with a sprinkle of geography mixed in.
As reported by Carl Cameron, “Speaking on Fox News Sunday evening in front of her modest childhood home, Bachmann said she’s a natural fit for the state’s first-in-the-nation caucus voters.” I want them to know just like John Wayne is from Waterloo Iowa, that’s the spirit I have too,” Bachmann said. ‘It’s embracing America. It’s sacrificing for America.’
Fans of the Duke immediately spotted the error, however, and called to point out that John Wayne was born 150 miles away in Winterset, Iowa. Serial killer John Wayne Gacy lived and worked in Waterloo.
The Bachmann campaign quickly responded by noting the parents of John Wayne the iconic American actor, did live in Waterloo for a time “(Carl Cameron, Fox Nation, June 27, 2011).
A day later, Bachmann admitted that she misspoke (Daily News, June 28, 2011). It would have been easier had she faced up to the gaffe immediately, just as it would have been easier for her die-hard apologists to concede that John Quincy Adams was not the best example of our abolitionist Founding Fathers to share with ABC News host, George Stephanopoulos. Granted, the exact cut-off year for a “Founding Father” may be a matter of debate in some circles, but there were far better examples to share and Bachmann’s answer was a stretch at best, not unlike fitting a square peg into a round hole. Indeed, by an incredible coincidence, the description of Quincy as a “Founding Father” appeared not long afterward on Wikipedia and was promptly changed back (John Quincy Adams, Wikipedia, June 28, 1011 Revision 16:13, Line 83).
Historical revision through the easy access of Wikipedia is about as effective as trying to make a real DeLorean perform like Doc Brown’s flying machine with John Quincy Adams as a passenger traveling back through time for an opportunity to influence his elders as a peer.
Perhaps it cannot be proven that this change came from a Bachmann groupie, but believing an Obama fan attempted to help the congresswoman is a greater use of our imagination than the flying DeLorean. We’d be better served by simply agreeing that all politicians have a variety of fans, stupid as well as intelligent. Bachmann should not be blamed. Neither should her more level headed supporters be ridiculed for objecting when the main stream media reports a mere misstatement as an Earth shattering news story.
How often do the rest of us Monday morning quarterbacks make gaffes when we speak? And how many such vocal blunders would be preserved for posterity if cameras were following our every move?
While flooding the airwaves with discussions of that charming Bachmann/ Palin foot-in-mouth phenomenon, does the conventional media talk as much about President Obama’s description of our “57 states” on his Beaverton, Oregon 2008 campaign visit? OK, the poor guy was probably just tired. Maybe Vice-Presidential nominee Joe Biden was also tired when he reminded Americans how President Roosevelt went on television to talk to the country right after the stock market crashed. Remember? Our understudy for the Oval Office seat took his brilliant trip down memory lane during an interview with Katie Couric.
“Part of what a leader does is to instill confidence is demonstrate that he or she knows what their talking about and communicates to people, if you listen to me and follow what I’m suggesting we can fix this… When the stock market crashed Franklin Roosevelt got on television and didn’t just talk about the you know,the princes of greed he said look this is what happened” (CBS Evening News, Sept 22, 2008).
How much did the mainstream media stress good ol’ Joe as opposed to Couric’s far more famous interview where she supposedly nailed Palin for giving only one example of John McCain requesting Wall Street oversight, rather than two?
Palin had said to Couric, “I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie - that, that’s paramount. That’s more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.”
Couric was not satisfied. “But can you give me any other concrete examples?”
Later she returned to the subject again. “…I’m just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation” (CBS Evening News, Sept 30, 2008).
Translation: “Not to belabor the point but, OK, let’s belabor the point.”
Wow Katie! Only one example from Sarah Palin instead of two? Gee, that Palin sure is dumb! All Biden did was confuse radio with television. Well, OK, he also confused Hoover for Roosevelt. But he’s in good company with former Vice-Presidential candidate Al Gore who said, “a zebra does not change its spots” (Ronald G. Shafer’s “Washington Wire,” Pg. A1. The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 1991).
We didn’t hear as much about Gore and zebras in those days. A potato upstaged them. During the election year which followed, while listening to a friend explain to me why she was not going to vote for George Bush Senior as president, I became somewhat disenchanted to hear the entire case hinging upon his running mate, Dan Quayle. “There’s no way I’m voting for him. He can’t even spell the word, potato.”
Now mind you, this woman knew nothing about what was going on in the country and would have been unable to explain the philosophical difference between a Democrat and a Republican. The only thing she comprehended about this election was that Quayle couldn’t spell the word potato. The very idea of people with such shallow reasoning abilities rejecting a candidate who graduated law school and served in the National Guard before becoming a US Senator, all the while smugly patting themselves on the back, saying “He’s too stupid for my vote,” suggests a rather scary future for our nation.
Reality check: We all make typos and speak their verbal equivalents. We also spew forth incorrect facts even when we know the truth. I am often amazed at what comes out of my own mouth. No thinking person truly believes President Obama was ignorant of the correct number of states in our union. 60, right? OK, 50. He made a slip of the tongue. Why waste your critique of Obama or Biden on late night comedy material when we can instead key in on their incredibly poor policies?
Unfortunately, if gaffes themselves are not dangerous, the emphasis on a gaffe can actually be quite lethal politically. It’s chilling when people respond to quick sound bites, jokes, or 30 second ads, choosing presidents with the same amount of information as a toothpaste commercial. This is something our Founding Fathers never intended, no matter what kind of letter grade they receive for abolition.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: It can certainly be argued that Michele Bachmann’s interview with George Stephanopoulos contained a far more important topic than discussions of her other gaffes. Bachmann’s statement about our Founding Fathers working against slavery is subject matter for a separate article and will be my next feature in Forbidden Table Talk.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net. Comments to posts are discussed by Bob over the air where anyone is free to call in and respond/debate. Call in toll free number: 1-888-344-1170. Read more Forbidden Table Talk in The Washington Times Communities.
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