WASHINGTON -- In early November of 1963, the Gallup Poll gave President John Kennedy a 55-to-39-point lead over his probable 1964 Republican candidate, Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona.
Good news for the White House. Very good news.
"This could be fun, if it's Barry," said Kennedy, who liked Goldwater a lot. Everybody did. A lot of them, specifically Kennedy, thought the Arizona senator was too conservative or just too dumb to become president. "Give me Barry. I won't even have to leave the Oval Office."
Then he told his staff and political people: "Don't waste any chance to praise Barry. Build him up a little. Don't mention the others." (The "others" were New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and Michigan Gov. George Romney, whose son, Mitt Romney, is a candidate this time.)
If history recycles, we can expect people in Barack Obama's White House to start building up Michele Bachmann, the feisty congresswoman from Minnesota who has said she considers the Obamas to be "anti-American." Obama would not have to leave the White House either. In fact, compared to Bachmann, old cowboy conservative Goldwater is Thomas Jefferson.
If you Google "Michele Bachmann," among the first of 4,970,000 entries that come up are:
"The 10 Craziest Bachmann Quotes."
"The Ultimate Collection of Bad Bachmann Quotes."
"Dumb Bachmann Quotes."
But if you look to the right of those entries, there is a link to a site to donate to the Bachmann campaign, and it's a safe bet that thousands of people are doing just that.
What a piece of work is this woman. This energetic woman, anyway. When, during the 2008 campaign, the lady from the Sixth District, said that it was time for voters to assess candidates by whether they were "pro-America" or "anti-America," she raised a million dollars in a few days.
The attractive lady, attractive when her mouth is closed, which is rare, made it to big-time politics the hard way, beginning by working on local school issues and getting enough attention to be elected to the state senate. She was elected to Congress in 2006 and made her name by vicious and continuous attacks on gay people and pro-gay legislation. She has five children and 23 foster children, and is an attorney. She and her husband run a pair of Christian counseling centers in the Twin Cities area. She became a Republican, she says, when she read Gore Vidal's 1973 novel "Burr." She thought Vidal was anti-American. Among her achievements is five years working as an Internal Revenue Service lawyer.
Like Goldwater, she keeps her name in the news by fronting conservative rallies and saying dumb things. The latest is that the American Revolution began in the New Hampshire towns of Lexington and Concord. She has blamed Franklin Roosevelt for the Great Depression because he signed the "Hoot-Smalley Act," raising American tariffs. Actually it was called Smoot-Hawley and it was signed by Herbert Hoover.
Among many other things she found important enough to fill Google slots are remarks noting that when Jimmy Carter was president there was a swine flu epidemic, and that there was one when another Democrat, Barack Obama, entered the Oval Office. Hmmm, do Democrats bring the flu? Probably not because Gerald Ford, a Republican, was in office when the first swine flu appeared here in 1975. Then there is her assertion that the Founding Fathers abolished slavery.
As Kennedy said of Goldwater, she'll be a lot of fun. And why not? I expect she will declare for president now that Sarah Palin seems happy in show business. The fact is that the Republican Party, for all its success in 2010, has no candidates who are obvious potential presidents. Mitt Romney is probably the most accomplished, but he has a real problem changing his political skin every couple of years. Newt Gingrich is a nostalgia show. Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman are ... something. Mike Huckabee ... I don't think so.
So, why not Bachmann? Kennedy would have loved to run against her. It would be fun.