You can tell Michele Bachmann had a great debut at the Republican primary debate in New Hampshire last night, because swarms of liberal writers are breaking off from their pursuit of Sarah Palin’s tour bus to dive-bomb her.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post decided to headline a basically complimentary assessment of Bachmann’s debate performance as “Bachmann assumes the position.” He was riffing on CNN moderator John King’s instruction for the candidates to assume their positions at the lectern, which he turned into a rather tortured metaphor for the entire debate. (Milbank was watching a different debate than the rest of the country if he thinks Newt Gingrich’s position was “a bored college professor.”)
Just try to imagine anyone at a liberal paper headlining a story about one of the 2008 Democrat debates as “Obama assumes the position.”
Milbank also couldn’t resist mentioning how Bachmann was shorter than the other candidates, carping about which camera she was looking into when she gave her response to Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, dragging out a weird liberal obsession with something she said about the abolition of slavery in Iowa six months ago, and demeaning her with the wholly inaccurate designation of “back bencher.” He thinks she did great in the debate, mind you. He just wanted to drop the standard payload of snotty liberal conventional wisdom that makes the Washington Post so boring.
Bachmann got slapped with another round of backhanded compliments from E.J. Dionne of the Post, who generously allowed that “she was at ease and forceful without looking crazy or out-of-control.” Wow, Michele Bachmann got through a whole debate without needing a straitjacket! Stop the presses!
“It’s a sign of how far to the right the Republican Party has moved that she didn’t stand out for her extreme views,” continued Dionne. No, Mr. Dionne, it’s a sign of how far your corrupt and demagogic Democrat Party has dragged America to the left edge of ruin that a simple common-sense defense of capitalism and liberty sounds “extreme” to you. Departing a large, luxuriously appointed ship to clamber into a little wooden boat is a “radical” thing to do, but it’s also the right thing to do, when the ocean liner is sinking.
Dionne concludes by speculating that “if President Obama was watching, nothing that happened tonight made him quake in his boots. On the contrary, it was striking that the ideas on offer were largely conservative boilerplate.”
Of course President Obama wasn’t watching. He’s got fundraising to do. That is his sole concern for the remainder of his disastrous first term. Yesterday he was flopping horribly at a Miami arena, where he couldn’t fill a thousand seats at $44 a head. Note to tired lefty hacks like Dionne: you’re not going to be able to dismiss conservative ideas by yawning and claiming they’re all “boilerplate.” Obama is the one America is bored to death of. The vast numbers of unemployed people produced by his policies have lots of time on their hands to be bored.
It’s also funny to hear the answers to a 30-second debate format dismissed as “boilerplate.” How were these folks supposed to cram nuance into their answers? Hold up flash cards covered with telemetry and bar codes?
No one in Bachmann’s camp can be surprised at the kind of attacks coming her way. Much of the media will just scribble her name over “Sarah Palin” on broadsides they have already written. Forensic gynecologist Andrew Sullivan will soon be demanding DNA samples from the children she claims issued from her loins. It’s not just Bachmann’s superficial similarities to Palin that make the attacks so predictable. It’s that she also represents the views, concerns, and aspirations of normal people. Liberals hate the views, concerns, and aspirations of normal people. They require obedience to an agenda designed by superior minds. Bachmann made it clear she aims to misbehave.
After last night’s debate, the Republican primary boiled down to a Rocky IV contest, with Mitt Romney in the Ivan Drago role, while Michele Bachmann is jogging through the snow with a log on her back. She’ll draw more fire in the short term, because the Left will react more viscerally to her. They won’t be able to stop thinking about the positions they want to see her in.
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