Michele Bachmann's surging presidential campaign is eerily reminiscent of her ideological opposite, Howard Dean, Politico's Jonathan Martin argues. She plays to a radicalized grassroots, she raises big sums online, she's taking on her own party, she freaks out her party's establishment--just like Dean in 2003. Martin does not predict that this means she'll lose miserably in an electoral "murder-suicide pact" with another candidate in Iowa next year after a scream caught on tape.
The comparisons are compelling. Just as liberal voters were overjoyed to have a Democratic candidate who opposed the Iraq war, Republican activists love that Bachmann has never voted to raise the debt limit--and her first ad in Iowa pledged she wouldn't vote to raise it this time, either. (Whether raising the debt limit proves to be as great a fiasco as the Iraq war remains to be seen.) Martin writes:
Just as Dean initially made a virtue out of an ostensible weakness--he may not have had foreign policy credentials, but unlike his primary opponents, he had enough smarts to oppose the Iraq War--Bachmann's appeal is because of, not despite, the fact she has only three terms in Congress under her belt. ...
Bachmann faces the same fundamental problem as Dean: the force powering her into contention--the base's unalloyed contempt for a president they consider illegitimate--contains the seeds of her undoing.
"[Democratic primary voters] were still so afraid of what Bush could do in a second term that in the end they got pragmatic," recalled Joe Trippi, who managed Dean's campaign. "Obama engenders that same anxiety and fear within the Republican base."
How else are these two crazy kids spiritual soulmates? We have a few suggestions: