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The Dimmer Twins

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The speculation has been endless about whether or not Sarah Palin will enter the race. Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann has also shown signs of throwing her toque in the ring.  Bachmann has said that her phone has been ringing off the hook with those wanting her to enter the race, and CNN reports that it is looking increasingly likely that she will enter the race.

Palin was thought by most to have taken herself out of the running, but her recent purchase of a home in Arizona (it would be easier to run a campaign from the mainland than from Alaska), news of a movie about her governorship in Alaska (shortened though it might be, through no fault of her own. Oh, wait.) premiering in Iowa, and the announcement of a bus tour have fanned the flames of speculation once again.

In some ways, I welcome this news (more about that in a moment), but overall, I am both appalled and amused. Let me count the ways:

1) As a woman, I applaud those of my gender being involved in politics. It was a man’s world for decades, if not centuries, and the more women who get involved, the better. However, I would prefer that such candidates have a lot more substance. Love her or hate her, Hillary Clinton had a boatload of gravitas; Palin and Bachmann seem to be more about sound bites and appearance than policy. They are very good at firing up their base. They are sorely lacking in the ability to reach beyond that base and deliver their message to others who need to be convinced. Frankly, I find their demeanor and lack of knowledge concerning the Constitution, policy, and various other tough questions thrown their way (things like “Which newspapers do you read?”) an embarrassment to women everywhere.

I have no problem with attractive women in the workplace or in politics. Indeed, it can sometimes be an asset, and I would be lying if I said that I felt that it hadn’t helped me in my career at some point, however, you’d better have the knowledge to back it up. I worked with some attractive women during my laboratory career, but if you didn’t have the knowledge about what you were doing or the processes that took place in the lab, you didn’t get ahead. I expect the same from any politician, whether male or female. When women have often had to work harder and be smarter in order to be taken seriously in many endeavors, I find it a setback to hear some men say, “That Palin is sure a looker, ain’t she?” You don’t get to run the country because you look good in a designer suit and high heels.

I don’t doubt Palin’s or Bachmann’s toughness (although Palin has a disturbing tendency towards vindictiveness, and she seems to have a hard time shaking off the inevitable criticism that comes with being on the national stage), because you can’t be a politician in this country without having a good measure of toughness. However, I also want a good measure of intelligence, and a willingness to work across the aisle rather than simply hammering home every agenda at the expense of the well-being of our country and our citizens.

2) As a progressive, I simply do not care for their agenda. I fundamentally disagree with most of, if not all, of their nebulous policies and their basic philosophy of less government, more local control. Such a doctrine was rejected by our founding fathers (the same founding fathers whom Palin and Bachmann seem to love so well, but understand so little about) when they rejected the Federalist papers in favor of the Constitution. The Constitution states clearly in what is known as the Supremacy Cause that federal law is the supreme law of the land. The concept of states’ rights was fought over in the Civil War, and it was rejected. I honestly do not understand this effort to let states reign supreme; if that were the case, there would still be segregation in many southern states.

Palin, Bachmann, and the teabaggers call for a return to the way things used to be, a return to American exceptionalism. They seem to be enamored of post-WWII America. To be sure, it was a time of booming prosperity, but it was also a time of discrimination against blacks and other minorities, women (unless they stayed at home, that was okay), and homosexuals. As for American exceptionalism, they seem to have missed the news that we are falling behind other developed countries when it comes to health care, infant mortality, and education. Part of the latter has much to do with the endless attack upon science education, an atmosphere where teachers are sometimes afraid to teach the scientific facts of evolution because of the blowback they get from highly religious communities. Which brings me to this.

3) Palin, Bachmann, and their acolytes seem to want nothing more than to make our country a theocracy. As someone who firmly believes in the separation of church and state (again, those pesky founding fathers and their assertions that we are not to promote any religion; another part of the Constitution that is conveniently ignored by many), I find this the most disturbing of all. One would think that the readily accessible example of various theocracies throughout the world (let’s use Iran as an example) would lead anyone to understand that basing our government upon any sort of religion is exactly what we should not and must not do. It was definitely not the intent of the writers of our Constitution. We do not base our laws upon any religious text. Both Palin and Bachmann seem to be taking their cues on whether to run or not from God, and when Palin met with Billy Graham she asked him about what the Bible says concerning Israel, Iraq, and Iran. If you want to base your foreign policy on what the Bible says about the End Times, the Rapture, and Armageddon, kindly step slowly away from my government.

4) Finally, as someone who is highly interested in politics and also loves to laugh, I think it would be very entertaining to have these two enter the race. The debates will be hilarious, and will provide plenty of comedy fodder. I suspect, however, that it will not be any sort of a boon to a Republican party that wishes to be taken seriously. For all the talk of Paul Ryan’s “serious and daring budget” (ignore that Medicare part, okay?), I find it a downright knee slapper that the possibility exists that we will see the Dimmer Twins soon engaged in battle. I await such a development eagerly, and I’m sure my fellow progressives do, as well.

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About Beth Anne Riches

  • Clavos, our current secretary of education, Arne Duncan, is definitely in the Waiting for Superman mold. And he has actually, you know, been an educator and run a big school system.

    He may, in fact, be the best education secretary ever — and even though you probably agree with him on a lot, you’ll never praise him because of who appointed him.

    Palin would be a ridiculous choice for any job requiring imagination, an inquiring mind, and the persistence and focus to stick to a job [unlike say, quitting a governorship after two years to become an overpaid TV personality].

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Andy –


    I get the impression that your dad probably grinned real big. I would have, too.

  • zingzing

    “For goodness sake I was just using that as an example.”

    you grow old and your face rots off and you are a pile of bones and dust and i turn to the next man in line. to him i say, “he chose… poorly.”

  • One further note, addressed to Lemmie. No, I do not “make things up” to validate my point. As Zingzing pointed out, you can Google these things to find reports. I don’t provide a link to everything I write.

    Also, thanks everyone for all the comments! You may not agree with what I wrote, but I’m happy to have stirred some discussion.

  • Glenn, when I retired from the navy I told my father at my ceremony that when I was 17 he was a real asshole and I was glad he grew out of it.

  • Lemmie

    44# “no, evolution cannot be proven as true. but the science is pretty good. good enough. i think you’d be foolish to deny it, but then the same could be said for gravity. jump off your chair.”

    Meh! I do not wish to get into a evolution versus creationism debate. For goodness sake I was just using that as an example.

    btw– when I jump off of my chair, I float; therefore, I wear lead boots 😛

  • Clavos

    lemmie, teachers have been fired for teaching evolution. (to be fair, they’ve been fired for teaching creationism as well.)

    That and sleeping with their students are about the only things teachers get fired for, thanks to the zealotry of the AFT and NEA.

  • zingzing

    well, one is science, the other religion. offer one in science classes, the other in religion classes. if your school doesn’t have religion classes, because public schools shouldn’t, enroll your kid at a catholic school. or a christian school. or a madras. whatever you like.

    no, evolution cannot be proven as true. but the science is pretty good. good enough. i think you’d be foolish to deny it, but then the same could be said for gravity. jump off your chair.

  • Lemmie

    41# “lemmie, teachers have been fired for teaching evolution. (to be fair, they’ve been fired for teaching creationism as well.) do a google search.”

    zing, thank you. I did.

    Perhaps it might be better to offer both subjects as electives listed under Philosophy as neither can be proven as true?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Really? Oh, this just keeps getting better and better!

    Yeah. And she worked on the Jimmy Carter campaign in ’76 until she figured out, somehow, that he was a liberal.

  • zingzing

    lemmie, teachers have been fired for teaching evolution. (to be fair, they’ve been fired for teaching creationism as well.) do a google search.

  • Lemmie

    15# “First of all, this is an opinion piece. I am not here, nor do I need, to prove anything.”

    Though it would be nice if you could back up your opinion(s) with something objective. For example, how many teachers are “afraid” to teach evolution? Do you have statistics on this particular point or are you just making it up because it seems to validate your argument?

    Just sayin’

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Handy –

    Bachmann’s husband is a ‘cured’ homosexual? Really? Oh, this just keeps getting better and better!

  • ScubaMoon

    So…wondering the purpose of the Sarah Palin Movie; did the Koch Brothers bank role this?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Andy –

    Well, I formed the opinion way before that and I don’t admit being mistaken because I rarely am!!!!!!

    That sorta reminds me of a saying by a retired Marine I worked with: “I thought I’d know everything by the time I was forty, but I was wrong – I knew it by the time I was thirty!”

  • Baronius

    Handy, I think both sides tend to have distorted images of the other’s key personnel. To hear some conservatives talk, you’d think Van Jones is the most important figure in the Obama administration.

    As for Bachmann, I get the impression she’s more of a populist than a conservative.
    You mentioned the press and the Tea Party – people who play to those aren’t going to get my attention. I’m much more interested in a policy guy like Paul Ryan. The fact that she’s a third-term House member considering a run for the Presidency only lowers my preconception of her.

  • I find it amusing that Clavos and Baronius both claim not to know much about Michele Bachmann. I mean, yes, she is very embarrassing as a representative of the conservative cause, or indeed any cause. But I don’t see how you have escaped her media blitz.

    You both obviously pay attention to politics, yet you ignore her. Dems pay more attention to her than you do, because we find her both horrifying and hilarious. But she does have rabid fans among the Tea Party faithful.

    PS Her husband is a ‘former,’ i.e. ‘cured by Christ,’ homosexual.

  • Great post Beth!!

  • zingzing

    but who would appoint palin? and why would palin take the post?

  • Clavos

    I agree with your #31 on both points, Baronius.

  • Baronius

    I could see her as a Secretary of Energy.

    Like I said, I want to see a candidate with a good deal of experience. I don’t see how Palin will ever get more experience, except as a Cabinet official.

  • Clavos

    Glad you’re amused, Beth.

    The abysmal record of American students when tested against other first world nations is not funny, however, and what Palin has that the present SecEd clearly lacks is cojones. The balls necessary to stand up to and defang the NEA and AFT and wrest control of the education establishment from their self-serving claws.

    So yes, Palin for Education.

  • LOL, Tommy! Palin in charge of Education? Now, THAT is funny!

  • I’d like to see Palin in a cabinet position, too, in a fetal position with the lid shut.


  • Clavos

    I like Palin, but not as prez; I’d much rather see her in a cabinet position, State or Education come to mind.

    I don’t know anything about Bachmann, and don’t really care to find out; as a conservative woman, she’s unelectable even running against an easy target.

  • Baronius

    Handy – I’ve said before that I wouldn’t consider any candidate with less than 8 years high-level experience. That’s more than Palin and Bachmann have combined. Even if Bachmann had another couple of years in the House under her belt, I don’t think that would be enough for my taste. I haven’t really thought about either of them as potential candidates.

  • Well, I formed the opinion way before that and I don’t admit being mistaken because I rarely am!!!!!!


    As I’ve stated here before, my opinions about some things have changed since I first started commenting on BC. I guess you could say I was mistaken, or misinformed before I got my head right. Things like gay marriage and abortion, things some people would call civil liberties. But there are plenty of places where I haven’t changed and you’d probably think I was mistaken, based on your own beliefs. Just as I’m sure you’re wrong on many of the things you say, based on mine.

    I’ve already made up my mind on most of the people that have decided to make a run at Barry. And honestly, the one I like is the one they talk about the least. Zing is right, it will be a lot of fun for liberals if either one of these two weenies gets the nomination along with Mitt or the other fairy tale believing guy from Utah! Because you’ll have 4 more years of Barry!

    If pretty much any of the top contenders gets the nomination on the republican side next year, I’ll just stay the fuck home!

  • Yes, but you had probably already formed that opinion by Jan 20, 2009, and you probably don’t admit you’re mistaken very frequently or easily.

  • I could honestly give a rats ass what Sarah does and I left a comment on Bachman’s FB page yesterday while she was whoring for money that I’d like to reach $240000 in 24 hours, I’d like to reach it in 4 years! She didn’t respond back. 🙁

    I was kinda hopin’ she’d cut me a check.

    I watch what our president does and most of the time he seems clueless. Him and his cabinet step all over each other all the time! By my count, he’s done one thing right in 2 years…that’s not a very good average. And then he took a victory lap that he hasn’t quite finished yet.

  • ha, uniformed = uninformed. I need to read my own comments before posting!

  • If you actually think Barack Obama is as uniformed as Palin and Bachmann, perhaps you need to read more.

  • And to comment 18 that I just made, please Glenn, please, please, please don’t come back with a Bush was just as bad comment!!!!

  • I can hear it now though. Liberals will scream if there’s a religion class in a public school, so no, it can’t be taught there either. As I stated earlier, you’re afraid of the debate for some reason.

  • You’ll never hear it from me handy, but, I will say they are as much loudmouth extremist egomaniacs with questionable knowledge about the world around them as the guy in the whitehouse right now.

  • Chris Banks

    I have to laugh when the right keeps attempting to claim that American Exceptionalism means we are “better” than anyone else. It was never intended to mean that, or anything even resembling that.

  • You will notice that neither Clavos nor Baronius nor Andy will come out and actually say Bachmann and Palin are great potential presidents, rather than loudmouth extremist egomaniacs with questionable knowledge about the world around them.

  • Either I’m not writing clearly, or you are purposefully muddying the waters. I suspect a combination of the two.

    First of all, this is an opinion piece. I am not here, nor do I need, to prove anything. Each of the things you seem to have a problem with were stated in the broader view of my piece about Palin and/or Bachmann running for president, and why that possibility both disturbs and amuses me.

    My remarks about exceptionalism and discrimination refer to the wish of many (including Palin and Bachmann) to return to a “simpler time.” We’ve all heard that phrase used. My point is merely that although it perhaps WAS a simpler time, it is not necessarily a desirable time for some. Not only is it impossible to return to such a time, I don’t think we really want to, if we consider that there were many citizens who were discriminated against. That would certainly be considered a prime time of American exceptionalism…but not for everyone.

    I did not say that “the key to America’s educational crisis is our approach to teaching evolution.” In my opinion, it is a PART of our failing system, and if I stressed the science aspect to the omission of others, it is because that is my field, and it is near and dear to my heart. I see widespread ignorance when it comes to basic scientific principles, in both kids and adults in positions of power. That bothers me.

    Many teachers are afraid to teach evolution because of the criticism they get from the religious community. That is a bad thing for science education, and education overall. As I mentioned in a previous comment, creationism can be taught in other classes, but it simply does not belong in the science classroom. There is nothing scientific about it.

    In my opinion, favoring prayer in school–if it is led by the teachers (an important point) or if it is only a Christian prayer–does indeed make you a theocrat. It is in violation of the Constitution in that it promotes any religion or promotes one religion over another. Again…my opinion. When I hear a candidate say that “God is leading them to run” (and both Palin and Bachmann have made such statements), along with other comments I’ve read from them over the past couple of years, I am led strongly to believe that they would push such beliefs on others, in the public square. Which would be a theocracy.

    Now that I’ve stated my opinion–at length–on these three topics, I’ll move on to other things.

  • Baronius

    Beth –

    exceptionalism/discrimination: You say that Palin and Bachmann want to go back to a time of American exceptionalism. It was a time of discrimination, DDT, and chrome bumpers. I haven’t heard either candidate voice support for discrimination, DDT, or chrome bumpers. So why bring them up? If you don’t oppose American exceptionalism, you should say that you agree with Palin and Bachmann. If you do oppose it, you should argue against it. But playing a guilt-by-association game with it is far too similar to another characteristic of the 1950’s.

    science: You’re familiar with science, so you bring up the evolution issue. In scientific experimentation, you analyze a test group and a control group. If our students are doing just as poorly in the field which which includes evolutionary theory as they are in every other field, there is no reason to conclude that the key to America’s educational crisis is our approach to teaching evolution.

    theocracy: I’m not a theocrat. America’s history and legal system are greatly influenced by Christianity, and stating that doesn’t make me a theocrat. I can favor prayer in school without being a theocrat. You need stronger evidence than that to conclude that Palin and Bachmann are outside the American political tradition.

  • Clavos

    You say that our educational system is falling behind, due partly to an attack on science education. Aren’t the declines in reading, math, etc., comparable to those in science?

    They are indeed, Baronius, and most people who have analyzed the problem of the failure of our national education establishment to actually “teach,” (imagine that!) lay much of the blame for this on the stranglehold the teachers’ unions have on the establishment (in the form of unworkable work rules — see the documentary, Waiting for “Superman”), not on an “attack on science education.”

  • Simple answer to your question: creationism can be discussed in religious classes, philosophy classes, literature classes…but it has no place in the science classroom. It is a religious belief with no basis in science.

    Where did I say that people can’t say or write that Obama is a “socialist pig?” You have every right to say so, just as I have every right to say that Palin and Bachmann want a theocracy and to base their decisions on their religious views. They have made that clear.

    I disagree with your statement, just as you disagree with mine. I do not wish to take away your right to say it. Why would you take away my right to state my opinion?

    But thanks for the chuckle!

  • And why can a liberal make accusations like you do about Palin and Bachman wanting a theocracy but when conservatives say that Obama is a socialist pig it’s somehow different? He’s never declared he’s a socialist, but his actions and policies show that’s EXACTLY what he is!

    Sounds really fucked up when someone says it about a liberal doesn’t it?

  • I went to catholic school way back in the day and you know what? The catholics weren’t afraid to teach evolution right along side creationism.

    I’m not a religious person, far from it, but I do wonder what you scientists are afraid of…climate scientists are afraid to release their data and you’re apparently afraid of letting differing opinions into the classroom. Yeah, I know, the world wasn’t created 6000 years ago or whateverthehell it was, but how is someone supposed to discern the difference if the differences are never pointed out to them? If you refuse to allow the two in the classroom then the student goes home and mommy and daddy reinforce the wrong idea!

    If what you teach is right, then allow the ignorant thought in the room too and let the light shine on it for what it is…ignorant! What you preach as anti-science is actually more like a myway or the highway kinda thing. Just because YOU don’t think an idea is valid doesn’t make it invalid…

    Why do liberals insist that people are too stupid to fend for themselves? Just because you or your friends might’ve been too stupid to figure it out doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t!

  • Baronius, I’m happy to clarify.

    I was not connecting “exceptionalism” to discrimination; merely pointing out that at a time that is widely considered to be the apex of American exceptionalism, discrimination was also part of the equation. I.e., it was a time of exceptionalism if you were a white Christian male. It wasn’t so great for others. Our “exceptionalism” was not built upon discrimination, but discrimination was certainly present at that time for many. My point was that Palin and others of her ilk seem to long for that time, feeling that it was one of our greatest moments. It wasn’t that way for everyone.

    Yes, we are falling behind in other areas besides science. That is my field, so that is what I always think of first. It also led into my third point. Most of the religious right wants creationism taught alongside evolution in our classrooms. That is anti-science.

    No, neither Palin nor Bachmann have ever explicitly said that they want a theocracy. Their actions and policies show that that is exactly what they want, however. Declaring America a Christian nation, stating that our laws are based on the Ten Commandments, wanting prayer–CHRISTIAN prayer–in schools, and in the example I gave, referring to the Bible to make policy on Israel, Iraq, and Iran.

    As for America being a Christian nation, perhaps I’ll write more on that soon!


  • Baronius

    Just a few points.

    You connect American exceptionalism with discrimination. On what basis?

    You say that our educational system is falling behind, due partly to an attack on science education. Aren’t the declines in reading, math, etc., comparable to those in science?

    You say that Palin and Bachmann want a theocracy. When have they said that? I haven’t followed their careers, but I haven’t seen such statements.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Handy –

    I didn’t know that! But don’t tell anyone – they might demand our birth certificates….

  • zingzing

    bachmann too. but i’ve got family connections in, and in that part of, minnesota, and i don’t want to… god, they’re so stupid. how do you vote someone like that in?

  • zingzing

    handy, don’t say “palin won’t run.” i really, really want her to. can you imagine how fun it will be?

  • Palin won’t run [take a look at Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word show tonight — he correctly compares her to Donald Trump, a reality TV star raising her asking fee].

    Bachmann will run but more or less as a protest candidate raising her own profile. She’ll never be the nominee, unless the GOP is loonier than I think they are.

  • Is that in the latest issue of RS, Glenn? I haven’t gotten to that one yet. I did see the New York article. Ouch!

  • Hey Glenn, both myself and zing grew up in the south as well…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Beth –

    Hey, I’m not the only progressive that grew up Down South! Great to see…

    …and I would absolutely love to see a Palin/Bachmann ticket in 2012. If what the articles in the Rolling Stone and the New York Magazine are any indication, Sarah and Michelle would NOT be Roger Ailes’ first choice. Enjoy the articles – they’re illuminating.