COMMENTARY | There’s a strange thing going on with Michele Bachmann. Not only is she careless with facts and statistics and irresponsible with presenting information designed to incite fear against whatever she opposes, but the Minnesota congresswoman also embraces the positive in her presidential campaign to the point of denying reality. Her most recent verbal mistake in a long, long line of gaffes and misstatements came in an interview with Fox News on “On The Record with Greta van Susteren” where Rep. Bachmann denied she had made any gaffes that had caused her to drop in the national presidential preference polls.
“I haven’t had a gaffe or something that I’ve done that has caused me to fall in the polls,” she told van Susteren. ” People see in me someone who’s genuinely a social conservative, a fiscal conservative, a national security conservative and a tea partyer. I’m the whole package….”
She said she didn’t have “clunkers” in her record and would be the best candidate to take on President Obama in the upcoming 2012 election.
But van Susteren, who seemed to find Bachmann’s faulty memory of such a long list of gaffes in need of refreshment, pointed out that she ” had a few little gaffes, maybe not recently, but you had the historic reference in Massachusetts, I think, and I think you had one…”
Bachmann interrupted the Fox News host. ” Well, I got Elvis Presley’s birthday wrong, but I don’t think that’s a disqualifying factor for being president of the United States.”
The congresswoman immediately changed the subject to her stances on the debt ceiling and other things, but she was correct about her gaffes — to an extent. Getting Elvis’ birthday confused with the anniversary of his death is most likely not a “disqualifying factor” for most Republicans who might consider voting for her (with perhaps the exception of Elvis fans). However, the Elvis gaffe was not her first, nor was it the second after the “historic reference in Massachusetts,” which was actually an historic reference in New Hampshire about the shot heard around the world, which occurred in Massachusetts. She’s made gaffes about her home state of Iowa and John Wayne , how the Founding Fathers worked “tirelessly” against slavery, that John Quincy Adams was a Founding Father , that Americans should remain wary of the nonexistent Soviet Union, and many others. None of which should be a disqualifying factor for being elected president.
But coupled with Bachmann’s propensity for twisting facts to fit her worldview and displaying herself as an individual that does not concern themselves with actualities and easily obtained information, she provides voters with a portrait of irresponsibility. And then to say that she had not made any gaffes that might have caused her drop in the polls seems to offer signs of disconnectedness with reality or the inability to admit that she has made mistakes, even verbal mistakes that have no direct bearing on her ability to be president.
Such intractableness and denial and distancing from reality can and should be disqualifying factors for being president of the United States. Being unable to compromise, admit mistakes, or allow for self-improvement (or even corrective self-assessment) can be harmful to negotiations, something presidents are constantly engaged in, and a detriment to creating personal and professional relationships necessary in running a nation.
Bachmann couldn’t even admit to the press that staffers walked out on her en masse in New Hampshire last month. She simply insisted that it did not happen.
And Bachmann could be correct in her assessment that she hasn’t had “a” gaffe that has caused her to go from a poll frontrunner to barely showing in the polls at all. She has had many. Added to her numerous falsehoods, such as claiming President Obama had issued only one off-shore drilling permit since taking office, and unsubstantiated remarks, like the passed along anecdotal claim that the HPV vaccine caused mental retardation , Bachmann has made odd statements, like claiming Glenn Beck could solve America’s economic problems with his chalkboard , along with gaffes that have had to have contributed greatly to her drop in the national polls .
But denial seems to be part of the congresswoman’s character.
Given Rep. Bachmann’s history, she will most likely remain in denial throughout the presidential campaign. Greta van Susteren didn’t stand a chance convincing Bachmann that she had made quite a few gaffes, nor that being seen as a person who makes far too many mistakes might cause voters to lose confidence in their ability to be president. For Bachmann, they simply didn’t happen.
As for Bachmann’s chances of becoming president, in denial or not, the reality is, simply, that it is not going to happen, either.