Friday, March 11, 2011


This story pleases me for a couple of reasons:

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is increasingly serious about joining the wide-open race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

And a growing number of conservative activists, legislators and political operatives in key states stand ready to help her if she does.

... A Bachmann-headlined fundraiser Saturday for the New Hampshire GOP was re-located to a larger venue because of "a very strong initial interest in this event," according to a state party official.

Bachmann has already met with prominent interest groups and well-placed officials in early caucus and primary states of Iowa and South Carolina, where both Tea Partiers and Republican regulars have been impressed by her easy rapport with conservative crowds....

"She is leaning more toward doing it," one Republican close to Bachmann told CNN. "The people she's meeting on the ground, they love her. She is definitely more encouraged when she makes these trips." ...

First of all, I think it's terrific that the public face of the Republican Party during primary season is going to be that much crazier. I really want America to see the crazies. In 2010, I wanted soundbites of the craziest Republicans to show up in TV ads in districts where crazy Republicans weren't running, so swing voters in those districts could see what Republican governance would really look like. The Democratic Party, of course, didn't see the point of showcasing those soundbites nationwide. And you see the results.

Beyond that, I'm delighted that folks like George Will are going to learn that they can't just decide who is a credible candidate in this cycle (any more than they could in the last cycle). Will, of course, wrote recently that only five Republican candidates should be taken seriously -- Romney, Pawlenty, Brabour, Huntsman, and Daniels. Everyone else, in Will's eyes, is beyond the pale. But polls show that at least half the GOP electorate wants someone Will thinks is beyond the pale -- wants Huckabee or Palin or Gingrich. Huckabee and Palin are especially popular, and it seems quite possible right now that neither one will run; George Will, knowing that, must feel that the rabble are under control and the center will hold.

But if Huckabee and Palin don't run, where are their votes going to go? Will thinks these voters are going to listen to their betters and vote for sensible men saying sensible things. That's delusional thinking. These people are crazy. They're creationists and Beckite conspiracy theorists and people who live on revanchist resentment. If their preferred crazy candidates don't run, they're going to vote for other crazy people, or they're going to vote for non-crazy people who say crazy things. In other words, they're going to vote for Bachman or Gingrich or Santorum or Cain ... or they're going to vote for Will's "acceptable" candidates only if those guys make a great show of embracing crazy ideas, like birtherism and climate change denialism. (Pawlenty, as I said yesterday, seems to be grasping this.)

Either way, George Will, your precious center is not going to hold. In fact, if Bachmann decides to run and Palin and Huckabee don't, I think she could be a top-tier candidate instantly -- she could pick up Palin's you-go-girl resentniks and Huck's God-botherers. Those folks ain't gonna vote for technocrats and Mormons.

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