Maybe Bachmann Still Has Things to Learn About Campaigning?

I mentioned last night how professionally disciplined and polished Michele Bachmann's political operation seemed capable of becoming, at this very early stage. Certainly in comparison with the gaffes and mis-steps that have plagued Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, non-candidate Sarah Palin, and even in a mild way Jon Huntsman. Ie, just about everyone but Mitt Romney.

She joins the crowd today, with a hilariously inept comment about her kickoff speech in Waterloo, Iowa. You should read about it here or here, but the clue is: two words she won't want to hear through the rest of her life are "John Wayne." (Explanation after the jump.)

I would not want to be the advance person or briefer who had worked on this event. We don't even need to make the jokes about Bill Clinton's beginning his political career in "a place called Hope," vs Bachmann tempting fate by launching hers in a place called Waterloo.

Punch line: Bachmann, who grew up in Waterloo, said that she was proud to share the city's heritage with its native son John Wayne. "That's the kind of spirit I have too." Unfortunately, the John Wayne who is from Waterloo is the dreaded clown-costumed serial killer of 33 boys and young men in Chicago, John Wayne Gacy. Ah politics.

Update: What will really say something about Bachmann's professionalism is how she handles this. The right way will be to laugh it off as a huge embarrassment, and move on.

Update^2: See this follow-up item on the Ronald Reagan precedent.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

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