No more. Conservatives should be done with Michele Bachmann.
Over the past year Bachmann has snake-charmed many conservatives into thinking that she – and only she – is dedicated to conservative principles. But almost every time she speaks, she shows ignorance and infidelity to concepts such as free market capitalism (promises of two dollar gas), constitutional federalism (proclaiming state mandates unconstitutional), governance (never ever raise the debt ceiling), medicine (Gardasil causes retardation), and leadership (staff turnover).
Let me explain.
(I realize that Bachmann is a popular guest on the Glenn Beck Show. But this is the evidence as I see it. And I welcome your disagreement and comments after the jump.)
NEVER RAISE THE DEBT CEILING (July 2011)
Never, ever, ever raise the debt ceiling. That was Bachmann’s position throughout the debt ceiling debate this summer. Her position wasn’t: let’s get a good deal. It wasn’t: let’s cut as much as possible. It was never, ever, ever raise the debt ceiling. (At one point she told Bill O’Reilly she would vote to raise the ceiling if it included defunding Obamacare. Which was impossible. Which means: never, ever, ever raise the debt ceiling.)
People can disagree about whether the debt ceiling deal was worth a damn. And Bachmann was right that “default” wouldn’t have occurred right away. But it would have occurred eventually. And even without default, failing to raise the debt ceiling would have required paring back government spending by 40% overnight. This is not a responsible way to cut government spending. And it’s not responsible governing.
BRINGING BACK $2 GAS (August 18)
"Under President Bachmann you will see gasoline come down below $2 a gallon again. That will happen." That’s what Bachmann told a South Carolina crowd in mid-August. This is patently absurd.
At best Bachmann’s position shows ignorance of the complexity of free markets. Regulations, oil and gas production, crude demand, refining capacity, macro-economic conditions…and most of all…the whims of Saudi oil princes effect the price of gasoline.
Worse, by guaranteeing a specific price of gasoline, Bachmann shows a progressive inclination that by pulling a few economic levers she can dictate the point-of-purchase price of a free market product. Politicians set the conditions for the free market. Politicians don’t set the market. At least not free market politicians.
And that leads me to a caveat…because, worse yet…Bachmann's position suggests gasoline price controls or heavy subsidies to literally dictate the price of gas. Short of these...not exactly free market tools... I don’t know how you can promise $2 gas.
ROMNEYCARE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL? (September 5)
Michele Bachmann spends a lot of time (appropriately) talking about the United States Constitution. But she doesn’t seem to understand the “sacred document.”
At the Palmetto Freedom Forum, Robert George of Princeton asked Bachmann whether the Constitution prohibited an individual mandate (like the one in Obamacare) if enacted by a state (like the one in Romneycare) as opposed to the federal government. Writing on NRO, Charlotte Hayes described Bachmann’s response. “She said such a mandate would also be unconstitutional if enacted by a state. But she obviously didn’t know why. After fumbling, Bachmann said that the prohibition against such a mandate on a state level is “inherent.” “Where is it?” persisted George, who had been so nice and smiley up to now. Uh-oh. Bachmann tried to wiggle off the hook by saying she was sure George could “enlighten” her.” (video here)
Bachmann’s position didn’t just show an ignorance of the document she professes to love. Her position showed a lack of respect for one of the core concepts within the Constitution: federalism. Whether it is abortion, gay marriage or state health care mandates, Bachmann seems all too happy to use the power of the federal government to control things she doesn’t like.
GARDASIL AND RETARDATION (September 14, 2011)
On Monday night, Bachmann came out swinging in the CNN-Tea Party GOP Debate. Unfortunately she kept swinging so wildly she repeatedly hit herself in the face. First landing valid punches on the chin of Rick Perry over his government mandate that all sixth grade girls in Texas be vaccinated for HPV and its “big brother problem” and Perry’s crony-capitalism problem.
But she moved from valid to demagoguery using language like “government needle.” And she moved from demagoguery to irresponsibility using language like “innocent children” and “damage” and “very dangerous consequences”. Finally…she knocked herself out by aligning with the anti-vaccine loons… suggesting Gardasil can cause retardation…with no medical evidence.
STAFF TURNOVER (Ever Present)
In early September Bachmann’s campaign manager Ed Rollins and her deputy campaign manager David Polyansky announced they were stepping down from their positions in her campaign. Rollins and Polyansky’s departure follows a trend within Bachmann’s staff.
“People leave her,” Major Garrett of the National Journal told Chris Matthews earlier this year. “They work for her for a little bit of time and they quit. She’s had five or six chiefs of staff – at least four at her time in Congress. That’s a problem.”
In 2009, after one of the congresswoman’s chiefs of staff quit, Politico reported an unnamed Republican House member saying in reference to Bachmann, “When your captain’s crazy, it’s time to find a new ship.” I don't know what her staff turnover says, but it doesn't suggest leadership.
You can disagree with me on some of the issues I have with Bachmann. You can make excuses for some of her statements. But you’re really reaching to defend or excuse ALL of any of Bachmann’s positions. And should you have to? After awhile you sound like a cheerleader pumping up a candidate, not someone looking for the best candidate to lead the country.
I don’t know how to explain Bachmann's positions. I dont't know if Bachmann is a populist simply trying to run out in front of the lemming pack to get elected…or if she is stupid. But I know from her record that she is not a leader….much less, a conservative leader. And it’s time to say so.