Did you catch the response by Rep. Michele Bachmann to the State of the Union address Tuesday night? Yes, somebody else delivered the official Republican remarks (Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the Budget Committee), but Representative Bachmann spoke to Tea Party Express activists in a kind of unofficial yet semi-important role.
She was the one with the charts and the hand motions who sounded and looked vaguely like Sarah Palin, but wasn’t Sarah Palin. She was pretty good – crisp, and well practiced in pivoting from point to point. As we’ve noted before, we believe it is possible that Bachmann is positioning herself as a Palin understudy, preparing for a presidential bid if the ex-governor of Alaska decides not to run herself.
As for Bachmann’s speech, it was a lot tougher than Representative Ryan’s. She talked about the “failed” trillion-dollar stimulus and how all it got America was “a bureaucracy that now tells us what light bulbs to buy.” She had a chart that showed how the unemployment rate had spiked after Barack Obama took office. She was unapologetic about getting rid of Mr. Obama’s health-care reform initiatives, as the House has already voted to do.
“Unless we fully repeal Obamacare, the nation that currently enjoys the finest health care in the world might rely on government-run coverage that will have a devastating impact on our national debt for generations to come,” she said.
But here’s the thing we found surprising: There were also things on which it seemed that Bachmann and Obama agree.
First of all, she complained that America has the highest corporate income tax in the world. Obama brought that up, too! Well, kind of. He said taxes on corporations should be lowered as part of comprehensive tax reform.
Second, Bachmann said she believed in American exceptionalism – the United States is No. 1, and so forth. “I believe America is the indispensable nation of the world,” she said.
Third, both Bachmann and Obama think the nation is at a crucial moment. The Minnesota lawmaker said, “We are in the early days of a history-making turn in America.” Obama said we are at a “Sputnik moment” in which the US needs to redouble efforts to teach math and science to its kids.
Of course, Bachmann’s “history-making turn” refers to the tea party movement and its drive to cut US spending and government. Obama’s “Sputnik moment,” meanwhile, argues for more government support for education. So they’re both turning here, but in different directions.
Finally, both asked for God to bless the US at the end of their speeches. But that doesn’t really count as a similarity: Every State of the Union and SOTU response ends that way, pretty much.
Still, there were similarities, we think. Not that Bachmann is suddenly going to end up in Obama’s Cabinet as the secretary of Token Republican Representation. She’s too busy making her second political trip to Iowa in recent weeks for that.
We’ll wrap this up by asking the question that all Washington is chattering about on Wednesday morning: Who is going to play Bachmann on "Saturday Night Live"? Will Tina Fey make an appearance as Ms. Palin so they can have a dueling, northern female, GOP-semipresidential-candidates ski?
We live in hope.