The Republican National Convention has blown out of Tampa with a whoosh of salt air, leaving behind it only litter and fact checkers. By all accounts, it was a fine affair that Combat! blog covered not at all. I don’t go in for political kabuki. I only like political Noh, on which the RNC verged several times. A bunch of crazy stuff happened in Florida this week, and none of it was true. Super PAC and campaign operatives stayed in the same hotel, not coordinating at all. Paul Ryan blamed Obama for a bunch of stuff that happened before he was president, and Clint Eastwood did a ventriloquist act with no dummy. Also, a Montana man was killed while impersonating Bigfoot, in what for now seems to be an unrelated story. At this point, though, I woud believe anything.
Last month, Cory Booker saved his neighbor from a burning building. That’s called political capital, and it enables you to do stuff like, say, criticize an attack ad from a presidential campaign you support. Booker described the “Romney Economics” ad, which paints Bain Capital as a “job-killing economic vampire”—thank you, CBS—as “nauseating.” He was particularly bothered by what he perceived as an attack on private equity:
It’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright. This stuff has got to stop, because what it does is it undermines, to me, what this country should be focused on. It’s a distraction from the real issues.
Before you accuse Cory Booker of a false equivalence, you should see the ad, which really does portray Bain as a mad job destroyer leaving a trail of broken pension funds across the midwest. It’s also six minutes long and about a steel mill closure, so check to see if Bruce Springsteen is standing behind you before you watch it. You don’t want to wind him up.
My new favorite micro-generic hallmark of the Michele Bachmman news story is the phrase “and then she did this.” It crops up again and again in baffled coverage from veteran reporters, and I think it captures something particular about her. What Michele Bachmann says so consistently contradicts what Michele Bachmann just said that her weirdness seems inevitable, and yet it keeps managing to surprise. After a while, her political communication takes on the sort of art-for-art’s-sake quality one sees in, say, Dadaism. It makes so little sense that you must accept it only for what it is—and then she did this. What Bachmann did this time was tell The Today Show that an anonymous woman approached her after Monday’s debate to say that her daughter got inoculated for HPV, and then she “developed mental retardation.” Is Bachmann saying that you shouldn’t vaccinate your child against preventable disease? Is she saying the HPV vaccine retards you? No—that would be irresponsible. But she is saying that “this is the very real concern, and people have to draw their own conclusions.”
As Michele Bachmann’s presidential candidacy increasingly resembles a thing that is actually happening, we will probably see a surfeit of Meanwhile, Inside Michele Bachmann’s Heads. I’m basing this conjecture on the Palin Cycle, which taught us that I will lose interest in a given nutso church lady long after you guys have. I apologize in advance, both to you and to the panels before which people like me will undoubtedly be called should President Bachmann take office. You know she’s going to win, too, because she’s using a method time-honored by student council candidates across the nation: making promises about stuff she cannot control. Bachmann’s pledge to get the price of gas below $2 a gallon is the frozen yogurt machine in the cafeteria of national politics. Because she is more a bold visionary and less a person who connects her desires to specific actions, we don’t know Bachmann’s gas plan. But conveniently, Don Shelby over at MinnPost has compiled her options.