I proposed a few days ago that Sarah Palin write thank-you notes to her media pursuers because of their relentless crusade, finally successful, to get her emails. The emails revealed Ms. Palin as Ms. Clean, a governor with a sense of humor and also a devoted mother. Now, I am going to suggest that Michele Bachmann owes Sarah Palin a thank-you note.
I submit that Bachmann-who surged to second place in the GOP lineup after turning in a stellar performance in Monday night’s CNN debate for GOP candidates-is the beneficiary of the mainstream media’s unspoken but very real embarrassment over the emails. The media knows it has egg on its face. So they have to give Bachmann, another feisty conservative woman, a break-for a little while.
The trendsetting Daily Beast had a nasty piece (“Bachmann’s Unrivaled Extremism”), but I noticed that even Chris Matthews was refraining from taking potshots as Ms. Bachmann. Washington Post blogger Alexandra Petri examined the weighty topic of “Michele Bachmann, the GOP debate, and the Palin SNL factor.” Petri tries to look at the debate as an SNL skit (please, do it again, Alexandra, when it’s President Obama versus the eventual Republican nominee):
Bachmann was “at ease and forceful without looking at all crazy or out of control,” said E. J. Dionne. “Surprisingly un-crazy”! It’s her new trademark. Unlike Palin, whose random, roving, neologism-rich delivery was everything, Bachmann manages to sound somewhat sane and rational. Her statements may be controversial – Remember that time she suggested ways that our school systems could indoctrinate schoolchildren into homosexuality by using Elton John? Or noted that there might be correlation between swine flu and Democratic presidents? – but how she says them? Nothing there to mock. No caribou. No guns. No pageants.
The comparison to Palin is inevitable here. It is not sexist – two of these things are, frankly, not like the others. Even supporters of Bachmann have been pushing the likeness, attracting the label the “smart version of Palin” and noting, “Do we need Palin when we have Bachmann?”Pretty soon there will be a slew of ad campaigns with slogans like, “Bachmann – for when you wake up late at night craving Sarah Palin, but want something slightly more filling.” “Do you remember how much fun it was to have Sarah in the race? This is like that, but different.” She’s the Yoplait version of America’s former favorite dessert. “Craving cheesecake?” Bachmann asks. “I am like cheesecake, but later you’ll feel better about yourself.”
Just an aside: Yoplait versus cheesecake–why didn’t John King think to ask that probing question during the debates?
Part of the difference is that the two women were introduced to the public in different ways: Palin came out of nowhere and had already been misrepresented by the time she gave her dazzling speech at the Republican convention. Bachmann had the advantage of introducing herself as a tax lawyer who can think on her feet. The camera loves both women, but Bachmann, as might be expected of somebody who has served in Congress, obviously emerged better able to deal with complex national issues.
But I don’t expect the Bachmann truce to last. Soon the media will have repressed the memory of their email fiasco. And they don’t like conservative women who, they feel, should have embraced their values, being one of the designated victim groups and all. You can see that Alexandra Petri was just itching for the cease fire to end. Picking up where the last quote from Petri left off:
And it’s the second clause that matters. This is Bachmann all over. Bachmann has been careful to portray herself as someone who cares about ideas and whose credentials as a lawmaker matter. I’m not personally crazy, she insists. I just say things that appeal to crazy people. I have delivered, in a sane, slow, collected manner, remarks that would not sound out of place coming from one of those homeless men you see outside supermarkets. But only on occasion! The medium is the message, and the medium doesn’t ramble and complain about gotcha questions.
I’m one of the “crazy” people to whom Bachmann appeals, though I haven’t made up my mind about the race yet. But I’m counting on Bachmann to give the lamestream media a run for their money. But, Michele, don’t forget to thank Sarah for going ahead of you.