Michelle Bachmann

Defending McCain

I’m not usually in the habit of defending Republicans. But when Sen.

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The Heritage Heresy

Overshadowed by the immigration rumble between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in the Las Vegas debate was a string of statements that sounded awfully heretical -- a sign, perhaps, that economic anxiety and even the Occupy Wall Street protests are poking ever the tiniest holes in the bubble of GOP orthodoxy. First, there was Rick Santorum noting for the second straight debate that western Europe now has higher rates of upward mobility than the land of Horatio Alger -- and this time he didn't even blame this on Barack Obama.

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Now that the Night of the Roundtable is behind us, the primary campaign is moving into the phase when money and ads will matter more than Jon Huntsman's curious sense of humor or Michelle Bachmann's numerology.

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Sarah Palin's Cruelty

Sarah Palin finally announced that she won't run for president. Not the most surprising development, since she didn't even have the patience to complete her single term as Alaska's governor. But how can she do this to her public? I don't grieve for her supporters. They'll find solace with Rick Perry or Herman Cain or Michelle Bachmann. What I mean is: How could she do this to Joe McGinnis? (Before he writes in to point this out: Yes, I know he's been predicting for some time now that she wouldn't, in the end, run.

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In a Slate column on Tuesday, Jessica Grose asked the question of why the media covers Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann differently. According to Grose, the media treats Perry as dumb and Bachmann as crazy. As Grose says of the Texas governor, he “comfortably fits into the Republican archetype of the stupid male candidate.” The fact that he is from Texas and likes to play up his anti-intellectualism—both traits reminiscent of another former Lone Star state governor who was derided for being none-too-bright—only makes the picture easier to draw.

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The Republican catchphrase of the moment is "crony capitalism." This is odd, because Republicans don't usually like to disparage capitalism in any form.

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O Lucky Man!

President Barack Obama may have an unfavorable rating of 50 percent, but he still leads every major Republican candidate in the field, according to a new survey by Public Policy Polling. That's remarkable given the dismal state of the economy. Median household income declined in real (after-inflation) terms during the first two years of Obama's presidency, the only ones we have data for. According to a new Census study, real median household income was, at the end of 2010, down 6.4 percent since 2007 (i.e., since before the recession). Unemployment stands at 9.1 percent.

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The normal way to measure changes in the scope of taxes or spending is to account for changes in the size of population and the value of the currency. If the government creates a program to, say, give free lunches to poor schoolchildren, then that program will expend more dollars over time as things get more expensive and the number of schoolchildren increases. When conservatives tabulate the size of government, they frequently use alternate methods, such as ignoring the changing size of the population, ignoring inflation, or both.

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Ross Douthat's column today urging liberals not to overhype the theocratic roots of Republican presidential candidates has some well-taken points. But it suffers from a couple important flaws. First, Douthat doesn't provide any specific examples of liberals committing the various sins he describes. No doubt this is a function of small constraints, but it's a piece that badly needed to be a long, detail-rich essay rather than a 700-word column. The most prominent example of a study of a presidential candidate's theological beliefs is Ryan Lizza's masterful profile of Michelle Bachmann.

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I was bullish on Michelle Bachmann's chances to make a splash in the race, and possibly even win, back when she was considered a Herman Cain-esque oddball candidate, because there's a large Republican constituency for a candidate frothing with rage against President Obama. But PPP's news Iowa poll shows Bachmann losing altitude rapidly.

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