Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sarah vs. Michele: Let 'em rumble

By Bob Gaydos
There’s a movement afoot, apparently started by conscientious, well-meaning citizens of the liberal political persuasion to convince the mainstream media to stop covering Sarah Palin as if she is a serious political candidate. They want people to write to major network news shows to stop their “wall-to-wall coverage” of Palin and “report on issues that actually effect(sic) us.”*
Sorry friends, I couldn’t disagree more. Ignoring Palin in favor of reporting on the debt ceiling and the relative merits of Tim Pawlenty and that guy who used to be ambassador to China would not only put America to sleep, it would deprive Americans of what promises to be the top reality TV show of the summer: Female Mud Wrestling, starring the two divas of the Tea Party/Republican Party, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. This hope alone makes the whole GOP primary mess worthwhile.
Some people would pay big money to see and hear these darlings of conservative ideology (sorry Mr. Will and Mr. Krauthammer, but I didn’t pick them) go mujer a mujer in a series of debates on “the issues.” But if they’re both candidates, we won’t have to pay a dime. It will be free and in living color, with great hair and enough great quotes to spawn a hundred more web sites.
And on a practical note, as long as Palin and Bachmann are treated as serious candidates, by the media as well as followers within the Republican Party, they will generate headlines and TV coverage and make it harder for any other Republican candidate to get his views more widely known. All of which will make it more difficult for Republicans to continue to blame President Obama for the Bush recession and the two Bush wars and easier for Obama to organize his re-election campaign under the “I Got Osama” banners. And isn’t re-electing Obama what the “serious issues” people really want?
Bottom line here is that the Republicans either hate the few serious candidates they have or won’t let them venture anywhere near the truth on the budget, health care, taxes, etc. That leaves Michele and Sarah as easily the best show in town. Even Republican commentators are speculating on the showdown. Who will prevail?
Will it be the Iowa congresswoman who proclaimed that the shot heard ‘round the world was fired in Concord, New Hampshire, not Concord, Massachusetts? Or will it be the half-term Alaska governor who volunteered that Paul Revere went riding through Boston firing warning shots and ringin’ bells, warning the British that the Americans were not about to give up their guns?
Folks, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Palin, 47, and Bachmann, 55, are both attractive, family values, Christian conservatives, whose free-wheeling verbal styles resonate with Tea Party faithful. Of course, there have already been the usual charges of sexism for anyone even suggesting a GOP catfight and denials among aides in both women’s camps that there is any rivalry here. The web site Politico reported that “Publicly, Palin, Bachmann, and their top staffers have nothing but praise for one another. Palin campaigned for Bachmann last spring in Minnesota, where Palin said the women were “buddies” and Bachmann called Palin “so much one of us” and “absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.”
But this is politics, after all, and Bachmann can’t be happy that Palin launched a bus tour on the eve of Bachmann’s anticipated entrance into the campaign. And “friendship” notwithstanding, Bachmann has told an interviewer she is reading the political gossip book, “Game Change,” an insider’s look at the 2008 McCain/Palin campaign.
“Game Change' is a book that is very difficult to put down,” Bachmann said. “At least I found it difficult to put down, and it gives a person pause. But the other thing that it does, I think, is it informed me of what I don’t want to do.”
In case you’re curious, “Game Change,” which relied heavily on interviews with McCain’s campaign manager, portrayed Palin as ignorant of world events, including World Wars I and II, the Cold War, the history of Iraq and Saddam Hussein and prone to wild mood swings.
It was so friendly of Bachmann to point out that she doesn’t want to follow in those Palin footsteps. And so nice of her supporters to note that Bachman is a three-term member of Congress, former Minnesota state legislator, a trained tax law attorney and foster mother to 23 children, and Palin is not.
What Palin is is a savvy self-promoter and fund-raiser, who will have a say in Republican politics, as a candidate or not, as long as other, more knowledgeable, more qualified potential candidates allow her to parade around as if she speaks for them or their party. And so long as she does that, Bachmann, her semi-clone, will also be afforded the same, undeserved status. You want to talk abut issues? Ask them about issues. After all, their party says they are serious candidates. Or at least it doesn’t say they aren’t serious candidates. Same difference in politics.
Which is why I’m salivating at the thought of a Palin/Bachmann mud-wrestling match. Will we get more of the quotable Bachmann:
  • ''I think there is a point where you say enough is enough to government intrusion. … Does the federal government really need to know our phone numbers?''
  • “I don't know where they're going to get all this money because we're running out of rich people in this country.''
  • “There is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact ... hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes, believe in intelligent design."
Or more of the incomparable Sarah:
  • "Well, let's see. There's of course in the great history of America there have been rulings that there's never going to be absolute consensus by every American, and there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So, you know, going through the history of America, there would be others but ?" -- Sarah Palin, unable to name a Supreme Court decision she disagreed with other than Roe vs. Wade, interview with Katie Couric, CBS News, Oct. 1, 2008.
  • “I haven't heard the president state that we're at war. That's why I too am not knowing -- do we use the term intervention? Do we use war? Do we use squirmish? What is it?" -- On the U.S. and NATO bombing of Libya, March 29, 2011.
  • “It may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: 'Sit down and shut up,' but that's the worthless, easy path; that's a quitter's way out." -- Announcing her resignation as governor, July 3, 2009, midway through her term.
I strongly suspect that none of the people who want the press to ignore Sarah Palin as a serious candidate, has much respect for the opinions of other Republican candidates on “serious” issues either. And network news executives gave up covering news in favor of entertainment years ago. Better to use your energy listening to Obama and trying to influence his opinions, if you wish, and praying like the dickens that Sarah and Michele wind up on the same stage in the same debate over and over again.
Which one do you think looks better in red?

(* OK, major gripe: If you want to rally smart liberals to your cause, use the right words. It should be issues that “affect” us, not “effect.” Look it up. Even network news execs might catch the error.)

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