I’ve been away,
1. How come this hasn’t gotten more play? In an interview where Palin was asked who she would support for President she said:
You know, if there are those who are out there willing to serve, with good executive experience, who have that servant’s heart and — and know not to be so excessively partisan that they can’t just do what’s right for the people who have elected them, then I would certainly find that person and support them and do all that I could to make sure that they defeat Barack Obama in 2012.
Palin seems to rule in candidates with “good executive experience” like Pawlenty, Romney, Palin herself (and even pizza executive Herman Cain) while ruling out Bachmann (along with no hopers like Gingrich, Santorum, and Ron Paul.) I don’t think shots like this from Palin - even if they become more explicit - will do much to hurt Bachmann with her target demographic (those looking for conservative authenticity.) Bachmann hasn’t built her following from third party testimonials and won’t be taken down by them. She has earned her support through constant effort. Direct Palin attacks on Bachmann would likely do more harm to what remains of Palin’s reputation than it would to Bachmann. Bachmann could still lose much of the support she has gained, but she would have to lose it based on the things she says and does rather than the criticism of fellow politicians.
2. Will Wilkinson argues that “Michele Bachmann’s lack of relevant experience makes it unlikely she’ll win the Republican nomination.” Fine, as long as we stipulate that Obama was similarly (if not exactly) underqualified in 2007-2008 and that the different voting habits of Democratic and Republican primary voters means that lack of either executive or long Washington experience is a bigger problem for Bachmann than it was for Obama. Prior to running for President, both Bachmann and Obama were state legislators turned members of Congress. I’m not sure that Obama’s 3+ years in the Senate count for that much more than Bachmann’s 5+ years in the House. Obama had won a statewide election, but I’m not sure how beating Alan Keyes helps prove that Obama was better qualified to be President than Bachmann.
Part of it comes down to the problem inherent in the word qualification to the extent that it is linked to terms of service. This gets back to Ross Douthat’s point about qualification vs. “preparation.” Douthat described preparation as “the hard work of scaling up one’s understanding from state-level challenges to national issues that any aspiring candidate needs to do.” Does Bachmann pass that test? I dunno. The Barack Obama of 2007 and 2008 had thought long and hard about how to make his social democratic-leaning politics palatable to enough of the public to see some version of his policy preferences enacted. Bachmann has political talent, but so far that talent seems to have been focused on winning over that fraction of the Republican electorate most focused on one’s conservative authenticity rather than in finding ways to talk to one’s base and swing voter simultaneously.