Michele Bachmann balks at Sarah Palin 'girl power'
Michele Bachmann says she's not a feminist. In an interview, the sole female GOP candidate for president doesn't talk about girl power the way Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton have.
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While Bachmann was dismissed by much of the punditocracy before turning in a top-notch performance in the CNN debate this month and snagging a second-place spot in a recent Iowa poll, there is no clear explanation for why she has been overlooked or underestimated—at least, not if you’ve spent any time with her.Skip to next paragraph
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True, the media have a field day playing up her every misstep—most recently her assertion that the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly” to end slavery—but we should know by now what that is about. (Hint: She’s a woman with presidential aspirations.) If Joe Biden’s gaffes had received half the attention of Bachmann’s, nobody would take him seriously, either.
In person, Bachmann seems eerily disconnected from the TV caricature. She is bright, quick, charming, and thoughtful. She will civilly and gamely debate any issue.
In a time when people are so tired of the shenanigans of the political parties, Bachmann calls herself “post-partisan.” She blames both parties for the mess the country is in. She identifies with the Republican Party as a conservative, but she isn’t going to carry water for its members or make excuses for their reckless spending.
When the Iowa native speaks of her childhood, which involved hardship, she is devoid of self-pity. After her parents divorced when she was 13, her family had little money, and she used babysitting proceeds to buy her own clothes. She told me that she was thankful that her family didn’t have money and she had to work her way through college because it taught her the importance of hard work and the value of the dollar.
In a conversation last year, she marveled to me that Democrats were bragging that their health-care plan allows parents to keep their kids on their health-care plans until age 26. “Why would any parent want their kid on their health-care plan when they are 26?” she asked. “Parents want their kids to grow up and take care of themselves. A 26-year-old is an adult.”
Bold words in today’s culture of eternal adolescence.
In late 2010, when conservative pundit S.E. Cupp told CNN’s Larry King that she thought Bachmann should run for president, the panel erupted in giggles. King was puzzled: “Are you kidding or do you mean that?”
Nobody should be laughing now.
Kirsten Powers is a columnist for The Daily Beast. She is also a political analyst on Fox News and a writer for the New York Post. She served in the Clinton Administration from 1993-1998 and has worked in New York state and city politics. Her writing has been published in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Observer, Salon.com, Elle magazine and American Prospect online.