James Joyner thinks Michelle Bachmann’s almost-certain entry into the race will make the David Brooks approved candidates rubber because she’s glue:
But having her in the race might well be helpful to Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Mitch Daniels, and other comparatively mainstream Republicans. If they can resist the lure of moving right to compete for her base, which would backfire, she’ll serve as a lightning rod and make them more appealing to general election voters.
First, I’m skeptical that “her base” isn’t “the base”. It may be true that there’s a huge silent majority of Republican primary voters energized to vote for a wimp, Mormon or Arab, but so far they’re far under the radar. Current polling shows Romney at the top, but the number two and three are Palin and Gingrich, and those two combined beat Mitt by 10 points. Bachmann and Palin combined also beat Obamacare Mitt. So, when Palin inevitably bows out, Bachmann will be there to pick up her followers and give the others a good run for the money.
Second, even if she’s merely a lighting rod or shit magnet, James really misunderstands the press if he thinks there won’t be any collateral damage from her presence. As we’re seeing with Newt’s flailing walkback of his Ryan critique — his latest is that quoting anything he said on Sunday is a lie — once a crazy candidate utters something stupid, it gives the media a giant opportunity to ask a “do you agree” question.
Do you agree with Newt Gingrich that the Republican budget is radical social engineering?
Do you agree with Michele Bachmann that regulating potatoes in schools is unconstitutional?
This is the favorite kind of media question, because they can’t be accused of bias when they ask a Republican to comment on what another Republican said, and because it makes candidates squirm.
So, instead of telling us how they’re going to cut taxes on the rich, fuck the poor out of Medicaid, and protect us from brown people, the serious candidates will be responding to all the dumb shit that Bachmann and Gingrich bring to the table. I don’t see how that helps the other candidates, especially if she wins Iowa, which is a real possibility since her supporters are the kind who show up at caucuses.