Bachmann Was Right (Sort of)

Bachmann Was Right (Sort of)

Bachmann Was Right (Sort of)

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 27 2011 4:08 PM

Bachmann Was Right (Sort of)

Ah, I'm glad I was otherwise occupied when everyone decided to pile on Michele Bachmann for saying John Wayne -- Marion Robert Morrison to his parents -- was from Waterloo, Iowa. Serial killer John Wayne Gacy moved there and committed some crimes there (though he did much of his killing in Illinois.*) Wayne wasn't. But Alex Burns points out that Marion Morrison's parents met in Waterloo, and I consulted another Wayne bio, The Man Behind the Myth (2005), which says the same.

Just a few years after Clyde [Morrison's] birth in 1884, his family moved to Iowa where he grew up and served an apprenticeship as a pharmacist in Waterloo. It was there that he met Molly, who worked as a telephone operator.

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Look: I'm not from a small town, but I'm from a pretty anonymous place (Wilmington, Delaware), and I know that when you've got a tenuous local connection to a celebrity, you flaunt it. Bachmann's problem, if we even want to call it that, is that she's been hopelessly defined as a gaffe-machine who flubs silly things. But she didn't pull this out of thin air! Waterloo has more of a claim on John Wayne than most other towns in America, excepting Winterset, Iowa and Los Angeles.

*I was wrong -- Gacy's muder spree began in Waterloo, but was interrupted.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.