It was a straightforward question. All she had to do was say, "No," or laugh it off. But Rep. Michele Bachmann said she found the question "insulting" of whether or not she was an "eccentric" or an "oddball" (as "flake" is defined by Merriam-Webster). The 55-year-old Minnesota Congresswoman also felt the need to explain herself to Chris Wallace, the "Fox News Sunday" anchor who had just asked her a simple question.
"Are you a flake?"
She would have made things a lot simpler for everyone had she said, "Yes." Instead, she decided to recite her official biography.
"I'm 55 years old. I've been married 33 years," she told the Fox News anchor. "I'm not only a lawyer, I have a post-doctorate degree in federal tax law from William and Mary. I've worked in serious scholarship…my husband and I have raised five kids, we've raised 23 foster children. We've applied ourselves to education reform. We started a charter school for at-risk kids. I've also been a state senator and member of the United States Congress for five years."
Regardless, Michele Bachmann is considered a flake by many, even though she told Chris Wallace she considers herself a "serious person." Despite her popularity amongst the evangelicals and ultra-conservatives, she is aligned with the dissolve Social Security and Medicare crowd, those that want to eliminate the Department of Education, and has vowed that if she becomes president, she would move to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. She is avidly anti-Health Care Reform, anti-Union, and anti-tax. She is gaffe-prone and makes anti-gay statements that make her sound at least borderline homophobic. And, last but certainly not least, Bachmann enjoys exaggerating many of her remarks on her political positions to the point of alarmism, rarely (if ever) bothering with substantiating facts.
But she takes herself seriously -- which is probably why most people do not.
So Chris Wallace, who gave her couple examples of her "questionable" remarks when he asked her if she thought she were a flake, offered her some advice in the form of a question. "Do you recognize that now that you are in the spotlight in a way that you weren't before that you have to be careful?"
"Of course a person has to be careful with the statements they make," Bachmann said. "I think now will be an opportunity to speak fully on the issues. I look forward to that."
People no doubt would like to hear Bachmann "speak fully on the issues." Consider that she rarely does, far more comfortable slipping into catchphrases, platitudes, and exaggerated statistics. Take for instance her story on how doing nothing to prevent the Holocaust was somewhat akin to voters and politicians today not doing something about the impending tax burden (which she estimates at an exorbitant 75 percent within the working lifetime of those now entering the workforce), probably one of her worst analogies and exaggerations rolled into one. And there is little doubt people would like to hear her speak more about all the anti-American sentiment in Congress. And she could use her knowledge of American history, like how it all started in New Hampshire, to highlight some intentionally misdirecting point or other.
She could also explain how Intelligent Design is a science and should be taught with "other sciences," whatever that is. Or perhaps she could elucidate on a remark she once made on how teaching someone that Elton John co-wrote the music of "The Lion King," you were also teaching that same student that being gay was better. And then there are all those problems she has with numbers and percentages (like the aforementioned 75 percent tax burden, the hundreds of millions it cost taxpayers for President Obama's last trip to India, and the massive numbers of dead killed in airstrikes by NATO in Libya), which is a strange problem to have when one has a doctorate in Federal Tax Law, a subject that is enhanced by mathematics.
But is Michele Bachmann a flake?
She certainly doesn't think so. And after her participation in the Republican Pesidential Debate in New Hampshire nearly two weeks ago, it would appear that many Iowans are beginning to take her seriously as a presidential candidate as well. In a recent Des Moines Register poll, 22 percent of Iowans support her for the 2012 GOP nomination for president, only one percent less than frontrunner Mitt Romney.
It only remains to be seen how sustainable her poll numbers will be when reporters and her fellow Republican politicians begin going after her for those flakey comments.
(photo credit: bachmann.house.gov)