When news broke last Friday that the five members of Michele Bachmann’s New Hampshire team had resigned, Bachmann’s national campaign manager Keith Nahigian said, “We have not been notified that anyone is leaving the campaign.” Today, Team New Hampshire issued a statement to clarify that they have, in fact, departed — and to explain why:
Team-NH of the Bachmann Campaign has decided to disband. This decision comes after much soul-searching by each individual and after countless hours of discussion as a team. Although the team members regret our departure from the campaign, we know there was very little choice. …
The manner in which some in the national team conducted themselves towards Team-NH was rude, unprofessional, dishonest, and at times cruel. But more concerning was how abrasive, discourteous, and dismissive some within the national team were towards many New Hampshire citizens. These are our neighbors and our friends, and some within the national team treated them more as a nuisance than as potential supporters.
Through all this chaos, Team-NH was never involved in the shifting strategy discussions. Team members were repeatedly ignored regarding simple requests, sometimes going weeks with little or no contact with the national team. Yet the members of Team-NH remained committed to Congressman Bachmann, often at peril to their own personal and professional reputations within New Hampshire.
Sadly, all of this could have been avoided. It saddens this team to see a dedicated patriot — a person so desperately needed in the White House — sequestered behind a wall of pretense, guarded by political operatives consumed by their own egos.
Nahigian’s ignorance last Friday underscores their gripes: If he didn’t even know they’d resigned, it’s not hard to believe communication between the national camp and Team New Hampshire was a problem.
Team New Hamsphire’s searing indictment of the mismanagement of Bachmann’s campaign is not the first report to suggest Bachmann isn’t the best manager. (Keep in mind that she chose her national team, after all!) Remember the stories from former staffers that indicated she let mail pile high in her Congressional office, rarely returned communications of any kind and could be a little cranky with her crew?
Given that, Team New Hampshire’s respectful mention of her as a “dedicated patriot” and a person “desperately needed in the White House” is particularly interesting. What has enabled her to be such a “dedicated patriot” might very well be the capacity to prioritize speaking appearances, media hits and other image boosters ahead of mundane responsibilities. No doubt it’s difficult for a person with all the right ideas to know when to prioritize the big picture and when to zero in on all the little details. Tim Pawlenty reportedly struggled because he liked to micromanage too much. (“He did everything right. And that was the problem.”)
Incidentally, this makes me think of nothing so much as of this reality: Sometimes, all the technological means at our disposal to deliver messages make it harder to communicate rather than easier. Cell phones, e-mail and social media have taught us to expect incessant and immediate communication, such that, at times, we’re overwhelmed by information and unsure of how to process it. The national team might not have intentionally ignored Team New Hampshire — and Team New Hampshire might actually have done little to seek direction from the national team. Either way, the statement from Team New Hampshire isn’t good news for Bachmann, who must know at least a few voters look to campaign management for a clue as to how a presidential contender might occupy the Oval Office.