Michele Bach­mann’s mo­ment

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Min­nesota Rep. Michele Bach­mann has sin­gu­larly achieved what most of her col­leagues only dream of do­ing but never will: Break­ing out of the anonymity of 435 House mem­bers to be­come a na­tional po­lit­i­cal fig­ure in her own right and a can­di­date for the pres­i­dency.

She didn’t do it by as­cend­ing the ranks of the House Repub­li­can lead­er­ship or by cham­pi­oning leg­isla­tive cru­sades. No ma­jor piece of leg­is­la­tion bears her name. She has piled up no po­lit­i­cal IOUs by do­ing fa­vors and play­ing by party rules. She chairs no com­mit­tees.

Since she won her 6th District seat in 2006 — the first Repub­li­can woman elected to the House from Min­nesota — she has been in a hurry to make her mark. She soon learned that she wasn’t go­ing to be­come known by sitting through hours of te­dious, in­con­se­quen­tial hear­ings, or lis­ten­ing to bor­ing House de­bate or by pur­su­ing a go-along-to-get-along ca­reer and pa­tiently “wait­ing her turn.”

And she soon learned that in the Old Boys Club in the House she wasn’t go­ing to be handed any­thing, ei­ther. So over these past six years, she be­came a fix­ture on vir­tu­ally ev­ery cable tele­vi­sion and broad­cast net­work talk show in the busi­ness, de­nounc­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s health care law, bash­ing his tril­lion-dol­lar deficits and big gov­ern­ment in gen­eral.

She em­braced the Tea Party move­ment from its birth, or­ga­nized and keynoted their ral­lies at the Capi­tol, and be­came the leader of Tea Party-backed lawmakers who won House seats in 2010.

Her tire­less ef­forts made her widely pop­u­lar among the GOP’s con­ser­va­tive base, thought she still was seen as an out­sider and to some de­gree a loose can­non among many in the lead­er­ship ranks. Af­ter she au­da­ciously made an un­ex­pected bid in Jan­uary for the House Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence chair­man­ship, the No. 4 post in the party’s hi­er­ar­chy, she with- drew her name in the face of cer­tain de­feat.

When House Speaker John Boehner picked Wis­con­sin Rep. Paul Ryan, the pow­er­ful Bud­get Com­mit­tee chair­man, to de­liver the GOP re­sponse to Mr. Obama’s State of the Union ad­dress, she de­cided to de­liver her own re­sponse on be­half of the Tea Party Ex­press.

She had an­other pur­pose in mind and that was to tell her party’s lead­ers, “Don’t ig­nore me.”

With Tea Party sup­port from across the coun­try and a grow­ing cam­paign war chest (rais­ing $1.7 mil­lion in the first three months of this year, the most of any House mem­ber be­hind Mr. Boehner), she set her sights on run­ning for pres­i­dent. But could she match the heavy hit­ters in the crowded field of can­di­dates, in­clud­ing for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney, the party’s front-run­ner?

Her poised, self-con­fi­dent per­for­mance last month at the CNN pres­i­den­tial de­bate in New Hamp­shire knocked that ques­tion out of the park.

She had pol­ished her de­liv­ery on count­less TV talk shows, and it showed in her un­flinch­ing, well-thought-out an­swers.

“This elec­tion will be all about eco­nom­ics. It will be about how will we cre­ate jobs, how will we turn the econ­omy around, how we will have a progrowth econ­omy. Pres­i­dent Obama can’t tell that story. His re­port card right now has a big fail­ing grade on it,” she said.

She of­fi­cially an­nounced her can­di­dacy in Water­loo, Iowa, where she en­joys strong sup­port from Tea Party con­ser­va­tives and is vir­tu­ally tied with Mr. Rom­ney in early polls.

There are huge ob­sta­cles await­ing Mrs. Bach­mann, not the least of which is his­tor­i­cal prece­dent. No House mem­ber has won the White House since James A. Garfield was elected in 1880.

His­tor­i­cally, at least in the mod­ern era, pres­i­dents by and large have been for­mer gov­er­nors who have had ex­ec­u­tive ex­pe­ri­ence in run­ning a gov­ern­ment, bal­anc­ing bud­gets, over­see­ing an econ­omy, in­clud- ing Ge­orge W. Bush, Bill Clin­ton, Jimmy Carter, Ron­ald Rea­gan, Franklin D. Roo­sevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Woodrow Wil­son and Teddy Roo­sevelt.

Mrs. Bach­mann’s other hur­dle may be putting to­gether a heavy-hit­ting team of na­tional se­cu­rity and eco­nomic ad­vis­ers to help de­velop a gov­ern­ing agenda.

Her speeches thus far have not spelled out in any de­tail how she would ex­pand eco­nomic growth and cre­ate jobs or deal with the myr­iad for­eign pol­icy and de­fense-re­lated is­sues that await the next ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Still, she’s shown her­self to be a fiercely in­de­pen­dent woman who is run­ning on a set of core val­ues that have made Amer­ica the most suc­cess­ful coun­try in the world.

She’s not go­ing to be a pushover in the pri­maries to come.

Don­ald Lam­bro is a syn­di­cated colum­nist and for­mer chief po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent for The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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