Smerconish on Bachmann’s blunders

Updated
 

by Hardball guest host Michael Smerconish

Let me finish tonight with Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and her tendency to commit gaffes on the campaign trail. Her public pronouncements made waves yet again over the weekend, this time in Florida.

She said “I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’  Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

Bachmann later insisted that she was joking, but that hasn’t stopped critics from piling on.

I’m probably more sympathetic than most when it comes to a public political faux pas. I know how dangerous sitting in front of a microphone can be, because I do it for 20 hours each week for my radio program. 

During an interview with famed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, who had both legs amputated after a car accident when he was 20 years old, I took the unfortunate step of asking him to “walk us through” the “tremendous adversity” he encountered in his life. The columnist Michael Kinsley famously said a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.

Everyone makes mistakes - Rs and Ds.  The question is: When do the inevitable verbal miscues cross the line from harmless to a trend worth monitoring? 

Before last weekend’s attempt at Category 1 comedy, Bachmann had mistakenly said the Revolutionary War began in Concord, New Hampshire (as opposed to Massachusetts) and mixed up the birthplace of film legend John Wayne with that of serial killer John Wayne Gacy and encouraged supporters to celebrate Elvis’ birthday on the anniversary of the King’s death and lamented the rise of the Soviet Union, despite its collapse in 1991.

It’s true that Bachmann isn’t the only candidate capable of offering silly public statements that require embarrassing “clarifications” later. What should be concerning is the nature of her blunders.  Unlike many of her peers, Bachmann consistently errs in her presentation of simple facts.  Hers are usually mistakes, not a function of misspeaking.

Yes, there is a difference. And if the faux pas parade continues throughout the rest of the campaign, it would be fair for voters to reconsider their support for Bachmann due to her gaffe-prone tendencies.

Or as George W. Bush would say, it would be understandable if these regular inaccuracies come to “resignate with the people” enough to affect their decisions in the voting booth.

Michele Bachmann

Smerconish on Bachmann's blunders

Updated