Months before Michelle Bachmann dropped out of the Presidential race, she had an interview in which she had the following to say about Mitt Romney’s chances of winning in November: “He cannot beat Obama. . . It’s not going to happen.” Later in the interview she elaborated a bit. “No, he cannot beat Obama because his policy is the basis for Obamacare,” Bachmann said. “The signature issue of Obama is Obamacare. You can’t have a candidate who has given the blueprint for Obamacare. It’s too identical. It’s not going to happen. We have to have a candidate, a bold distinct candidate in the likeness of Ronald Reagan.”
The candidate “we have to have,” of course, was Michelle Bachmann (“in the likeness of Ronald Reagan.” No false modesty here, folks!). But that was when she was still one of the players in the game. Now, Bachman has endorsed Romney for President. That’s par for the course, as we all know, but it’s also somewhat amusing. The woman who saw how weak a candidate Mitt Romney would be on a large stage is now determined to rally to Romney’s side the support of those on the far right who backed her. It’s politics as usual, of course. But it is also a human comedy if we keep our distance and watch with suspended concern.
Failed candidates almost always rally behind the candidate who wins his or her party’s nomination. It’s all about party loyalty. But the differences within the Republican party these days are so great that the swing of support often seems like a turn-about to the rear. Michelle Bachmann leans so far to the right her shoulder often gets dirty. Romney is adept at finding some ground that appeals to everyone: he leans both left and right — often at the same time. But the change to Romney’s side on Bachmann’s part amounts to a complete abandonment of all she believes in — if, indeed, she really believes in anything. Politicians frequently do not. They prefer pragmatism whereby change can come about as the political winds alter direction. Bachmann seems to be learning the lesson.
In any event, the man who cannot beat Obama because of Obamacare is now joined by the woman who insisted a few months ago he has no chance. I dare say she would now contend that with her help he is a viable candidate, though one would think Romney would prefer to dance with someone else this time around. Bachmann is liable to drive away as many voters as she manages to bring with her. Most of those who supported her in the early stages of her campaign will find Romney unpalatable: for them politics is not a game where you switch sides depending on the way the political winds happen to blow. It will be fascinating to see how things shake out.
In many ways this will be an interesting election (if we can survive the preliminaries): the billionaire Republican who speaks out of both sides of his mouth opposed by the conciliatory Democrat who seems afraid to take a firm position on any issue for fear of alienating someone. Neither man seems to be able to take a stand on principle. Political pragmatism ofttimes looks a lot like believing in nothing, sad to say.