Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are both Republicans. They both have the support of Tea Partiers. They both have a gift for starting political flame wars. They both have large families. They both are female. They both have shiny brown hair. They both might run for president. Since they both have so much in common, they obviously hate each other. Right?
Did you see Bridesmaids? There's a scene where the maid of honor (Kristen Wiig) and the wannabe maid of honor (Rose Byrne) battle to give a better toast to the bride-to-be. It's catty and pathetic and sort of makes you hate humanity--it's, you know, funny. A "well-placed observer" tells
Politico's Ben Smith and Maggie Haberman that this is happening out on the campaign trail this very moment: "Every time Bachmann gets some press, Palin will get herself out there a little more," in reference to Palin's announcement of a multi-state bus tour Thursday being "not unconnected" to Bachmann's moves toward a 2012 candidacy. That very night, Bachmann pre-announced she would announce whether she's running for president in a speakerphone conference with reporters in Iowa.
Bachmann and Palin may be political rivals. And they may even be concerned that the other poses a threat to their own political standing. (Obsessing over one's status is the defining characteristic of all politicans, male and female.) But reading through the coverage, this Bachmann-Palin narrative has a very familiar ring to it.
Bachmann "lauded" Palin when reporters asked about her at the event, Politico reports, "But in the next breath she ticked off her resume, seeming to distinguish her own background from Palin’s credentials."
Publicly, Palin, Bachmann, and their top staffers have nothing but praise for one another. Palin campaigned for Bachmann last spring in Minnesota, where Palin said the women were "buddies" and Bachmann called Palin "so much one of us" and "absolutely drop-dead gorgeous."
Okay stop right there, folks. Everyone knows from Sweet Valley High and Daria that when a woman praises another woman's beauty it means she hates her. Let's move on.
But each camp views the other with a level of suspicion, with some of Palin's supporters seeing Bachmann as a B-list version of their icon, and some in Bachmann's camp regarding Palin as a short-timer without Bachmann's record or tenure.
Aha! The mean girl leaders can't publicly bash each other. They have to use beta girl surrogates. The HBIC has not yet been toppled. But that doesn't mean she's not vulnerable:
National news outlets spent much of the day talking about Palin's bus tour, while Bachmann's call with reporters in Iowa--a prelude to a campaign announcement that was already widely expected--came in second for major political news of the day. ...
However she's going about it, Bachmann, is on track to launch an actual campaign--something that is far from clear with Palin, despite her sudden spurt of activity.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.