Blue City Politics & Commentary

Steven J. Gulitti

Steven J. Gulitti

Steven J. Gulitti
New York, New York, USA
March 27
I am a resident of N.Y.C., and a political independent. I attended SUNY Buffalo (BA) and University of Illinois (MA) and NYU (Professional Certificate). I am a retired commissioned Chief Warrant Officer and 25-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. I am member of the Iron Workers Union and a freelance writer who has been published in textbook, periodical and professional venues. I contributed a subchapter to the textbook The Tea Party Movement, part of the Current Controversies Series.

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JUNE 28, 2011 10:09PM

Michele Bachmann’s New Normal: Damage Control

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Michele Bachmann came out of the last G.O.P. debate of presidential hopefuls smelling like a rose having favorably impressed the national media with her serious demeanor and lack of excited partisan rant. Presently she finds herself in a dead heat with Mitt Romney among Republican voters in Iowa and with neither Rick Perry nor Sarah Palin currently in the race, Bachmann will surely gain momentum from her Tea Party backers. Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks says that Romney has created a political vacuum which Bachmann has easily filled. However this newly enhanced stature and popularity among America's ultra-conservatives presents a particularly vexing problem for Michele Bachmann. That problem has nothing to do with Bachmann's conservative views and everything to do with her penchant for publicly misspeaking and confusing and conflating important historical facts. The net result of all of this is the prospect of having to engage continually in damage control due to her past gaffes, pratfalls,misstatements and misinterpretations of American history.  

As far back as the 2008 elections, while appearing on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Bachmann had made such wild eyed claims that candidate Barack Obama was anti-American. To wit: "CHRIS MATTHEWS: --so you believe that Barack Obama might have anti-American views? BACHMANN: Yeah, absolutely I-- I-- I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views. That’s what the American people are concerned about." Moreover, Bachmann went on to say that so many members of Congress could be considered "anti-American" that a media investigation of the institution was more than warranted. While such absurd statements were easily dismissed at the time as Bachmann was nothing more than a solitary Congresswoman parroting far right talking points, today those very words have now come back to haunt her.  

Since 2008 Bachmann has amassed a track record of misstatements ranging from where the American Revolution actually started to assuming that the founding fathers had eliminated slavery during the framing of the Constitution to claiming that before the inauguration of President Obama America had a one hundred percent free market economy and that presently the federal government controls almost half of it. Apparently this sort of misstatement is nothing new, when Michele Bachmann was in the Minnesota Senate she claimed that by eliminating the minimum wage "we could potentially virtually wipeout unemployment." 

This past Sunday Bachmann appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. On both programs, Bachmann was forced to engage in damage control so as to address her earlier comments about Barack Obama being anti-American as well as other glaring gaffes. Asked by Schieffer about Obama's anti-Americanism: "So what does that mean, congresswoman? Did you mean he was unpatriotic, that he didn’t love this country?"; Bachmann answered:” I don’t question his patriotism. I think what’s most important is how has the President performed? I think quite simply, the President has been wrong in his policy prescriptions for the country, that’s really what is important right now because we’re in serious times and we’re in trouble." Schieffer went on to ask:" Well, would you wish you’d put it a different way when you said he had anti-American views?" to which Bachmann replied: "Oh, sure, there’s a lot of things I wish I would have said differently, of course." Considering the exchange between Schieffer and Bachmann, it’s obvious that the candidate's damage control techniques are now in place and being employed so as to deflect the mistakes of the past from the present business at hand.  

However it was on Fox News, a venue that one would consider more than friendly to conservative candidates that moderator Chris Wallace leveled the most damaging blow of all: "Finally, let's talk about Michele Bachmann because -- and you say -- it's interesting. You say that the people saw in the debate and saw you as a serious person. I don't have to tell you that you have -- the rap on you here in Washington is that you have a history of questionable statements, some would say gaffes, ranging from -- talking about anti-America members of Congress -- on this show -- a couple of months ago, when you suggested that NATO air strikes had killed up to 30,000 civilians. Are you a flake?" While Wallace would later publicly apologize to Bachmann, the fact remains that even serious commentators on the right have questions about Bachmann's past misstatements and gaffes and when you combine that with the savaging she can expect from the left and from her political opponents within the G.O.P. it's impossible to see a Bachmann candidacy that isn't characterized in a large part by a continual damage control program that seeks to protect the candidate from her own self inflicted mistakes. 

However, when one surveys the American political landscape one comes to the conclusion that no amount of effective damage control on the part of the Bachmann campaign will even matter in the final analysis. Summarizing the commentary of Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register, "Bachmann plays very well with the very right wing elements of the Iowa Republican Party but she can't secure the nomination without the more moderate elements within the G.O.P. Moreover, Bachmann can't hope to win the general election without the support of independents." Presently Bachmann polls very poorly with the wider electorate and she is unlikely to overcome that favorability deficit when the media and her opponents are constantly reminding the voters of her past gaffes, pratfalls, misstatements and misinterpretations of American history. 

Steven J. Gulitti



Hardball with Chris Matthews, October 17, 2008 

Bob Schieffer, CBS Face the Nation; June 26, 2011 

Chris Wallace, Fox News Sunday 

Kathie Obradovich on PBS News Hour 6/27/2011 

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Bachmann, Palin, et al, all share the same insurmountable problem: in order to win the nomination, they have to make such outrageous statements that, in the general election, will come to back to haunt them to the point the democratic candidate will be easily able to make mince meat of whichever candidate the Republicans finally put up. And to make matters worse, the more moderate Republicans, the ones that actually have functional intellects, are being forced to adopt more radical positions than they would otherwise adopt.

That said, Obama can still blow more big mistake and he could turn out to be burnt toast.
Let's not overlook the damage she and Palin have done to the chances of a woman attaining a major role in politics. There I was thinking that some babe should be able to replace Palin as a hopeful that wouldn't be a quitter and make dumb comments. Now Bachmann, while not yet a quitter, seems to be reinforcing this image instead of rising above it.

I'm among those ready to vote everybody I can out of office at the next opportunity and start all over again. But these babes aren't helping me to feel any better.
I see you like to attack everybody but Obama and Bidden for their statements. What about 57 states and asking the person in a wheelchair to stand up?

You just your focus on crap like this and I think we will have another Reagan/Mondale election.
She's got damage that can't be controlled.
If you can find a politician who has never said anything inflammatory, questionable, or disturbing, you should settle in and dig a little harder. If you still can't find anything - vote against them. You can't do politics without expressing ideas. And if your ideas are so mainstream and palatable that everyone is okay with everything you say - then you're not saying anything that needs to be said.

Bachmann may not be your cup of tea, but she's not a nut either. She's just got a different perspective. In a country where diversity is supposedly a valuable asset - that should be encouraged, not discouraged.