Friday, September 02, 2011

Word Salad

Michele Bachmann is discovering just how difficult campaigning for the presidential nomination can be. After breaking into the top tier of candidates with a very good showing in the Iowa straw poll, Ms. Bachmann now finds herself relegated to the back seat again as Rick Perry gets all the love and media coverage. I will say this, however, she's working hard to get back into the limelight, and she's made at least one very astute shift in her campaign.

Bachmann and Perry share the same base constituency: Tea Party, small-government, conservative Christian Republicans. That means they are dueling for the same people. To win, one of them has to move outside that limited arena and grab some votes from other blocs within the party. Michele Bachmann appears to be doing just that. In a speech given before veterans in her home state of Minnesota, she sounded a foreign policy theme, which is a new one for her.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Is the candidate with the "titanium spine" comparing herself to the Iron Lady? Michele Bachmann drew a connection with Margaret Thatcher in a speech to a veterans group today, praising the resolve of the former British prime minister along with another GOP icon, Ronald Reagan.

"It took two very strong leaders on the world stage, one a woman and one a man, to reverse the course of their respective countries," Bachmann said at the American Legion convention in Minneapolis.

Harking back to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher is a natural for a Republican candidate, and doing so within the context of foreign policy is not such a bad idea for Michele Bachmann. Up until now, most of her speeches have dealt solely with domestic issues, as have the speeches of Rick Perry. Presidents also have to deal with the rest of the world, however, and it makes sense that Bachmann would start weaving that aspect into her narrative.

The trick is to make this new thread intelligible and meaningful. Bachman has to do more than note that she could see Canada from her kitchen window. I'm not so sure that she has that part down yet.

Asked by a reporter after the speech whether she modeled herself as a modern-day Thatcher, Bachmann said, "Both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher contributed mightily to restoring the economic greatness of the nation during their respective time periods."

"We're in a similar time period and we need to have strong viable leadership to see that return again today," she said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Both with military and with our economy, they are both tremendous examples."

I have absolutely no idea what that means, even though I recognize the vocabulary and sentence structure as American English. I'm sure those around her nodded appreciatively, perhaps even applauded, but I'm also sure that if those around her had been pressed for a brief description of just what Bachmann was saying they'd be as stymied as I am.

While this word salad isn't quite as obvious as her other gaffes (confusing Elvis Presley's birth date with the date of his death, e.g.), it certainly isn't going to be particularly helpful when it comes up during a debate where a nimble opponent can jump all over it.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is being fairly quiet these days, which means his gaffe-a-day ratio is down. Right now, that might be a tactic Michele Bachmann should consider.

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