“Now, if the Lanigan is right about Bachmann’s chances (and most commentators agree with him), Obama’s campaign managers should be trying to build her up, on the grounds that she is unelectable. However, it seems that David Axelrod and the rest of the boys in Chicago, where the Obama 2012 campaign is based, are in the dissident camp. Evidently, they believe Bachmann needs taking down before she gains more momentum.

“Why is that? My guess is that, having themselves swept from nowhere to the White House on a wave of public disgust at the Bush Administration, the Obama strategists recognize a potentially dangerous rival. On the face of it, Bachmann is a classic right-wing protest candidate. But in centering her announcement speech on a critique of President Obama’s economic record, and stating baldly that he can be beaten, she was signalling that she intends to be more than that

“Being female not only sets Bachmann apart from the field, it partially inoculates her against the charge that she’s an extremist. When Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh rave about Obama and the Democrats being godless, anti-American socialists, they come across as what they are: angry middle-aged white men. Bachmann can say equally incendiary things, but coming from the mother of five (and the foster mother of twenty-three) it doesn’t have quite the same impact.”

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“To be sure, there are doubts — many — to be raised about Bachmann’s stance on policy matters. And like many male candidates flubbing lines while running for office, the serious, repeated factual errors that come out of her mouth demonstrate that she’s either careless, factually challenged, or, as women’s advocate and author Gloria Feldt notes, living in an alternate universe.

“But why, so immediately, these questions about her brains? Perhaps one of the reasons fewer women run for public office is that they see how women are portrayed.

“There are some hopeful signs the paternalistic labeling might not fly as easily this time. Bachmann picked up on it recently and hit back, reportedly telling a voter on Wednesday that the media would like her to dive into a ‘mud wrestling fight” with potential presidential rival Sarah Palin…

“Let’s just agree: sexism transcends. The double standard is not about political parties, but about women and men. Even so, these reductive comparisons of two female candidates mark a new low for women in politics. We’re simply not seeing similar comparisons between, say, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. How ridiculous it would seem to point out their proclivity for wearing a certain pattern on their tie or a 1950s-style hairdo.”

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“In the last three months, at least 100 news stories have mentioned Bachmann’s claim that she raised 23 foster children. But the GOP presidential hopeful has provided few details about her time as a foster mom; in fact, very little has actually been reported about that period in her life. Former Bachmann neighbors and church members, according to a recent New York Times story, recalled few sightings of those foster kids.

“Actual details remain murky, and reports and accounts contradict her public statements. Bachmann has repeatedly said she took in a total of 23 foster children. But a 2001 story in The Minnesota Lawyer put the number of children at 20. A recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune quotes Bachmann as saying she raised as many as four foster children at one time. But Minnesota officials say she was only contracted to house three at a time…

“Some foster children stayed with the Bachmann family for short periods of time, Hendrickson said, while at least one stayed for close to a year. He did not recall hearing any complaints about Bachmann. ‘She was well-organized,’ he said. ‘There’s a very soft, nurturing side to her.'”

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“So Bachmann’s taking off. Can she sustain it? Who knows? That’s what campaigns are for. But a sign of how seriously she’s being taken is that aides on the Hill are now beginning—half-jokingly—to speculate about her vice presidential pick. I still think Ryan-Rubio is the most likely 2012 GOP ticket. But if not that, how about Bachmann-Lieberman?”

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