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Bachmann tells all or nothing

Undeclared presidential candidate Michele Bachmann sat still for a 30-minute interview on Iowa Public Television and managed to make no news at all, except perhaps that after extensive praying over whether to run for president she has had “that calling and that tugging on my heart that this is the right thing to do.”

But even that quote illustrates my main takeaway from the interview, which is that Bachmann has really worked on toning it down and staying away from the kind of fact-challenged crazy-talk that both got her noticed and got her in trouble in earlier stages of her political career.

You can read or watch the whole thing here. But it’s not exactly the Bachmann that Minnesotans have come to know in the past. Despite the various fairly obvious invitations from her two questioners to say something that she would regret, or something that would just make a teensy bit of news — about any of her Republican opponents, about Obama’s birth certificate, about Medicare, about any issue at all — she just stayed on ground that (especially compared to some of her past performances) was incredibly safe.

Here’s the full quote on the calling to run for prez:

Henderson: You recently referenced your Christian faith.  Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, when he announced he would not run, said that he just didn’t feel called to do that.  Have you had that sort of calling to run for president?

Bachmann: Well, every decision that I make I pray about as does my husband and I can tell you, yes, I’ve had that calling and that tugging on my heart that this is the right thing to do and because it’s such a momentous decision, not only for myself, my husband and our 28 children, it is a momentous decision what ideas will I bring to bear?  What are the resources that I have to marshal in terms of people, assets, the message and also the finances, the amount of time this will take, what this will mean for the nation. Am I the right person for the job? Every decision and every endeavor my husband and I have made we think it through, we’re not rash people. We make a plan because we want to succeed, we don’t want to fail and so we’ve been very deliberative in this process and that’s why we’re now coming to the culmination and next month, as I announced last night, I’ll make that decision right here in Waterloo and the world will know.

And here’s one of several versions of what she wants Iowans to know about her:

Glover: What should Iowa republican activists know about Michele Bachmann?

Bachmann: What they should know is that I’m an Iowan, that I was born here and that I’m an optimist. I came from a lower-middle class family, I had to work my way through college and through life. My husband and I we’re very modest means and we live the American dream. We worked extremely hard. I want them to know I’m a very hard worker, I’m committed to my faith, I’m committed to our family but I’m committed most of all to the ideals that created the nation. I love the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, I stand on those ideas and those values. The founders wrote in the Federalist Paper that the greatest quality for a president of the United States would be their character and not that I’m a sinless individual, I’m a great sinner, that’s why I became a Christian, I needed forgiveness from a Holy God but what I want people to know is that I value life, I’m 100% pro-life, I’m pro-marriage, pro-family and I’m 100% pro-American jobs.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by James Hamilton on 06/01/2011 - 09:37 am.

    As someone who prizes reason, it disturbs me greatly that it’s considered acceptable in some circles for a candidate to hear a voice telling her to run and claiom it’s the supernatural rather than hubris. I, who am not at all qualified for the position, am far more capable of being president than Michelle Bachmann. The fact that she can be considered an even marginally acceptable candidate chills me to the core.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/01/2011 - 10:55 am.

    “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

    – Thomas Jefferson, January 4, 1786

    Fortunately for people like Mr. Hamilton, we live in a free society and so there are candidates and parties he can support who don’t share Thomas Jefferson’s views.

  3. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 06/01/2011 - 11:45 am.

    Mr. Black, I’d like you or someone to fact-check a few items in Bachman’s background that SHE’S made an issue:

    1. “28 children”? Look, I’ve been a foster parent. I wouldn’t claim that any of these children that resided with me were “my children” or that they would be affected by my career decision long after they’ve moved on. What, exactly, is the history of these 28 children?

    2. “Michelle Bachmann, noted tax attorney.” What was the nature and extent of her practice? Who were her clients? In what courts did she appear? What significant cases was she involved in?

  4. Submitted by Doug Seitz on 06/01/2011 - 12:19 pm.

    I agree totally with Mr. Cage. Someone needs to investigate the accuracy of Bachmann’s claims. She may have had 20-some foster children, but was it for love of children or the money she was paid? And did the children find it such a wonderful experience, also?

    And as for being a tax attorney, where and when was this and why did she stop?

    I’m from Stillwater, and she suddenly appeared here. Why, and from where did she come?

    There is very little documentation of any of the claims she makes, and from what I hear, those looking are having a hard time finding any. It’s time to do some serious questioning of her as to her background.

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 06/01/2011 - 01:49 pm.

    “Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, August 10, 1787

    “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”

    – Thomas Jefferson, March 17, 1814

    Fortunately for Mr. Tester, Thomas Jefferson was a deist, not a Christian. Even more fortunately, we live in a free society, so there are candidates and parties he can support who don’t share Thomas Jefferson’s views.

    Be that as it may, I, too, would like to know more about Mrs. Bachmann’s background. My impression is that being a foster parent doesn’t entitle you to call a child “yours” in the sense that Bachmann is using it in the quoted passage, and I’d like to know the context in which she was a tax attorney, as well. For someone who purportedly passed the bar exam, she has displayed a surprising lack of knowledge, whether the topic is tax law, history, or the Constitution.

  6. Submitted by James Hamilton on 06/01/2011 - 07:19 pm.

    Rep. Bachmann received her law degree from the now-defunct Oral Roberts University School of Law. As best I’ve been able to determine, her time as a tax attorney was limited to 5 years employment by the IRS in its Saint Paul office. (1988-1993). She reportedly quit the practice of law to become a full-time mother. Unfortunately, information on the number of children she and her husband fostered, for how long and with what result is not available to the public from either Washington County or the state.

    As others have pointed out, Mr. Jefferson was a far more complicated man than might be revealed by a single quotation. I can offer this, however:

    “Fix Reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason than of blindfolded fear. … Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences.” (Jefferson’s Works, Vol. ii., p. 217)

    Those interested in more on TJ’s beliefs might start here:

    http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/jeffersons-religious-beliefs

    I can only wonder what he might have had to say about someone who claimed to have been annointed by god. But then, King George did, didn’t he?

  7. Submitted by Susanna Patterson on 06/03/2011 - 04:36 pm.

    To the best of my knowledge, there is no record of any foster children having been placed in the Bachmann home by Washington County (where she makes her home) or by any other county. None have ever come forward, either to sing her praises or to condemn her as the archtypal “wicked stepmother,” so it is reasonable to assume that they simply do not exist.

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