"I Haven't Had a Gaffe," Says Michele Bachmann

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 18 2011 3:34 PM

"I Haven't Had a Gaffe," Says Michele Bachmann

Well done, Greta Van Susteren, for tripping up Michele Bachmann on the strangeness of her argument that she's the most reliable Republican candidate.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

BACHMANN: I haven't had a gaffe or something that I've done that has caused me to fall in the polls. People see in me someone who's genuinely a social conservative, a fiscal conservative, a national security conservative and a Tea Partier. I'm the whole package...
VAN SUSTEREN: So you're talking about clunker -- you mean the allegations -- underline allegations, no proof of Mr. Herman Cain that there were two women who said that they were sexually harassed, and you had the Governor Perry's unfortunate 53-second gaffe at the -- one of the debates -- is that the clunker that brings people down?
BACHMANN: Those clunkers show that people -- that that hurts candidates in the polls. I haven't had something like that. But what I've been...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you've had a few -- you've had a few little gaffes, maybe not recently, but you had the historic reference in Massachusetts, I think, and I think you had one...
BACHMANN: Well, I got Elvis Presley's birthday wrong, but I don't think that's a disqualifying factor for being president of the United States.
Advertisement

In case you've forgotten, "getting Elvis Presley's birthday wrong" meant wishing Elvis "happy birthday" on the anniversary of his death. Stupid, because Bachmann comes out at campaign stops to the tune of Presley's cover of "Promised Land." Dumb, trivia, sure. And I'm sort of sick of "gaffe" being used when people clearly mean "flub." But what this reminds me of is a liberal theory about Bachmann that has been comprehensively debunked during the campaign. Matt Taibbi got at it in his preview of the Bachmann campaign. She was invincible, he claimed, because Republicans were angrier at the media for reporting her flubs than they were at her for making them. "When you laugh at Michele Bachmann for going on MSNBC and blurting out that the moon is made of red communist cheese," wrote Taibbi, "these people don't learn that she is wrong. What they learn is that you're a dick, that they hate you more than ever, and that they're even more determined now to support anyone who promises not to laugh at their own visions and fantasies."

That's clearly not true, is it? Bachmann, Cain, and Perry have engendered the exact same reaction to their screw-ups. There's a wave of media-bashing from the base, collect-a-quotes from Tea Party leaders who say the media is unfair. And then the lights go elsewhere, and there's a slow, quiet, walk-away from the damaged candidates. In today's NH Journal poll of the Granite State, all three of the candidates I mentioned are deep, deep underwater on favorability. It's almost like Republican voters still pay attention to the media.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.