Michele Bachmann is the Republican candidate who has snared the most media attention this summer.
The Congresswoman from Minnesota has moved into flank position on front-runner Mitt Romney. She already has overtaken in the polls a slew of male would-be presidents whose dull public performances have left a keen taste for something more spicy. Ms. Bachmann provides it.
She is a fiery daughter of the Radical Right whose lack of inhibition in speaking her feelings is matched by an implacable partisanship. She first gained national media attention after the 2008 elections gave Democrats majorities in both Houses of Congress as well as the White House. Then, she called for a purge of those “anti-American” elements who have no right to rule true blue Americans.
Although that specific remedy for what ails the Republic has been put on hold, she has continued down the Tea Party path without deviation. In so doing, she is in the process of bumping into the rail Sarah Palin who shows clear signs of flagging. Ms. Palin remains an undeclared virtual candidate.
That equivocal position has played to her disadvantage as others hog the limelight. Michele Bachmann seems to have eclipsed her as the fresh, vibrant (and attractive) Lady Liberty of the Right.
There are no other clues to Bachmann views on issues and implicit ideology than her sharp edged public comments. Her legislative record is non-existent. As a marginal Congresswomen she did nothing to draw attention outside her district. There are a few salient items on her biography that provide something of a personal portrait. She is a Christian fundamentalist who condemns abortion, homosexuality (which she equates with unnatural if not diabolical impulses), and advocate of Creationism.
She is convinced that the federal government is the cause of the troubles that beset the country and therefore should be shrunk drastically. Only the military and the intelligence services are exempt from this stricture.
As to foreign policy, she strikes the standard patriotic notes that pass for policy discourse on world affairs among the Tea Partiers. In the very unlikely event that she be nominated, she would be at sea as much as Sarah Palin was in 2008.
Might Ms. Bachmann be selected as the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee? In today’s bizarre world of American politics, never say never.
(Professor Michael Brenner teaches at the University of Texas, Austin, and at the University of Pittsburgh. He can be reached at: email@example.com)