Thursday, August 24, 2006

Presidential visit: Kennedy could learn a lesson from Bachmann's class

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:35 AM |  

Below is a release from the Bachmann campaign on the President’s visit, that is, well, a piece I’d be proud to say was written by my congressional representative. Sure, it’s a little Pollyannaish and “gosh and by golly, I’m here with the president of the United States.” (I consider myself pretty cynical when it comes to hero worship,and certainly not a Bush fan, but found myself having a simialr "goose-pimply" reaction just being in the audience at Bush's 2004 campaign appearance in Hudson.) In the larger context of Bachmann’s political career, the release hits the right tone.

Bachmann has taken several positions in opposition to the Bush administration on highly visible and significant issues. This summary in the Star Tribune is a good one:
Bachmann opposed several of Bush's most notable legislative accomplishments, such as the No Child Left Behind education law (Bachmann sees it as a federal intrusion into local school matters) and the drug benefit for Medicare patients (Bachmann says Medicare can't afford it, and would vote now to repeal it).

She also differs from Bush on some aspects of his plan on immigration (she agrees on border security, but not on a guest worker program or a plan to allow illegal immigrants to become citizens) and has criticized Bush for not better restraining spending.
Yet despite some fundamental differences with the President – true loyalty is honestly disagreeing with someone you respect – Bachmann was having none of reporters attempts to coax her into deserting the President. Again, from the Strib:

Reporters asked Bachmann about the tradeoff between having Bush as a fundraiser but being associated with his low approval ratings.

She was having none of it, declaring herself "thrilled" and "honored" by Bush's help and said it was a vote of confidence in her candidacy.
She didn’t bite and take the opportunity to distance herself from the president, which with her record, she could have easily done. She didn’t make a big deal of her differences with the President; she reaffirmed her solidarity with him. She was honored by his visit and his support. She wasn’t concerned about the babbling of critics who will disingenuously portray her has a Bush lackey. By not taking it seriously, she completely deflates the issue.

Mark Kennedy could take a lesson from her. His overly sensitive response to charges that he’s a Bush rubber stamp, rightly or wrongly, lends credibility to the charge. He should be defending his votes that supported Bush, not running from them to point out some minor disagreements.

Say what you will, Bachmann is not just a pair of empty pink gloves. And although I don’t always agree with her, she has character and integrity. Here’s her summary of the President’s visit.

The Scoop on President Bush's Visit

What an honor it was to have the President of the United States here on my behalf. Hopefully, you were able to see some of the coverage on television, heard about it on the radio or saw an article in the newspaper.

After President Bush participated in a Health Care Forum in Minnetonka, I was able to join him, Governor Tim Pawlenty, US Senator Norm Coleman and White House Advisor Karl Rove for the limousine ride to my event. On the way to the Jundt home in Wayzata, we were informed we were going to make a stop. Little did we know what a treat it would be for us, literally and a treat for the unsuspecting customers at Glaciers Custard and Coffee Café.

I have never been in the Presidential limousine before so I was a little unsure what to do when the limousine stopped at the custard stand. I wasn't sure if I should exit with the President or get out of my side of the car. Karl Rove told me I would exit out the door on my side after The President steps out and someone would open the door for me. I could not believe I was discussing what flavor of custard to order with the President of the United States!

President Bush was so incredibly engaging with the servers. He actually stuck half of his body through the order window and asked, "Can anybody get some custard here." It was fun to see the excitement in the people's faces when it dawned on them that President Bush was in the same line to order custard. People were whipping out their cell phones to call loved one to say, you will not believe who is here. Everyone wanted to get their picture taken with him.

Always the mom, I thought, we need napkins. I asked the President if he had a napkin and he said no. So, I had to quickly grab napkins. I cannot imagine dripping custard in the Presidential limousine.

President Bush and I did share our custards with Governor Pawlenty, Senator Coleman and Karl Rove. Every bit of custard was gone well before we arrived at the Jundt home!

As we were driving, President Bush was constantly waving to people along the streets. I was struck by the humility he has towards his role as President of the United States. He enjoys connecting with people, even ever so briefly, and having them feel they have made contact with the President of the United States. I turned around and looked out the back window. The expressions on people's faces were priceless. They were just ecstatic when they realized The President had just waved at them.

If they were ecstatic, I can not even put into words the honor and joy I felt from having the support of The President. I am also grateful to the Jundt family who graciously opened their home, Southways, which is part of Minnesota history. I would also like to thank Governor Tim Pawlenty and US Senator Norm Coleman for co-sponsoring the event. It was truly remarkable. If you are ever in Wayzata, stop in at Glaciers. Just tell them the President sent you!