The Washington Post

Rollins slap at Palin shows Bachmann isn’t afraid of a fight

The squabble between Sarah Palin’s peeps and those of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is quite entertaining. Not that we didn’t see this coming. Months ago, Bachmann bumped Palin as Tea Party queen. But now that Bachmann is this close to jumping into the race for the Republican nomination for president — and Palin is pretending to think about doing same but we all know she won’t — the gloves are coming off in earnest.

Jennifer Rubin raises some good points about the wisdom of Bachmann hiring Ed Rollins. “She’s fresh; he’s not,” Rubin writes. “She’s anti-Beltway; he personifies it. She’s disciplined; and he’s shown he’s not.” And Rubin points out why Rollins’s slam of Palin as “not serious” might not have been the smartest move.

This was dumb on multiple levels including (in no particular order): 1) it took the focus off his boss; 2) it will offend voters who are Bachmann’s natural constituency; and 3) it plays into the sexist “Palin v. Bachmann!” match-up that his boss has tried to downplay.

But here’s why an attack on Palin is a safe and potentially beneficial move on Bachmann’s part.

When 64 percent of the country says it won’t vote for you (up 11 percent since November 2009), when 42 percent of your fellow Republicans say they won’t vote for you (up 18 percent since November 2009, which is also the biggest increase), and when you’ve done nothing to alter the perception that you’re “not serious,” why shouldn’t you be attacked?

In the movie “Elizabeth,” Walsingham tells Queen Elizabeth, “A prince should never flinch from being blamed for acts of ruthlessness, which are necessary for safeguarding the state and their own person. You must take these things so much to heart that you do not fear to strike. Even the very nearest that you have if they be implicated.” This is a tad dramatic, I know, but the Rollins slap at Palin (and the backhanded apology) is a sign to me that Bachmann isn’t too afraid of a fight.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.


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