Crossing the media transom this week comes a story brought to us by the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and not, I should point out, from The Onion. Michele Bachmann is considering a run for the White House.
I’ll just give you all a moment to let that sink in.
At first blush, the idea might not seem all that far-fetched. We may begin by considering that two of the most daunting hurdles a prospective presidential candidate must overcome are the need (and proven ability) to raise massive amounts of money and establishing national name recognition. These are bars which Ms. Bachmann has already surpassed with ease.
She was able to raise nearly $14M in rapid order, a level rarely achieved by someone who was recently described on MSNBC as a “two term, back bench member of Congress.” And she’s been spreading that money around in all the right places, including tens of thousands dumped into Iowa.
As for name recognition, that particular check-box has already been ticked. Bachmann is a staple of the cable news shows and regularly garners ink in publications far from her home stomping grounds. She’s also well known as a provider of highly inflammatory quotes, feeding plenty of grist into the media mill.
Further, she comes pre-packaged with a compelling back story, critical to building the national buzz required for such an endeavor. Michele was the consummate soccer mom, back when politicos were scrambling for the attention of that media generated demographic. She left a lucrative career as a government tax attorney to raise her own five children, while also providing foster care for 23 more. It’s a touching story, and just the sort the media loves to highlight.
But circling back to the name recognition issue, she hasn’t exactly developed the type of brand which makes campaign consultants weep with envy. During her two terms in Congress she has, by her own admission, not amassed much of a body of work. She has authored a total of zero bills which have been passed into law, fueling the impression that most of her accomplishments have come in the media, rather than on the floor of the people’s house.