[Maggie Gallagher is going to be evaluating what the potential presidential candidates speaking at CPAC today have to say about marriage and life. First up - Michelle Bachmann who had the morning keynote address.]
Here was the question I had about Michelle’s speech: the Minnesota firebrand is testing the presidential waters in a long-shot bid; her social conservative credentials on life and marriage are impeccable. Would she veer libertarian at CPAC?
Michelle’s main theme seemed to be: let’s all applaud the way we stomped the liberals in the last election.
YAY!! The crowd loved it.
It’s hard to judge a speech like this, a nice opener for CPAC, well-chosen for that purpose. But it doesn’t tell us very much about Michelle—except she likes to win and she’s running as one of "The People."
Michelle’s best line: with all we owe to China we might as well now say “Hu’s your daddy!”
I'm going to grade all the speakers on three things: their stand for life, for marriage, and their ability to explain why social conservatism is a key part of conservatism—on principle.
Frankly, Michelle Bachmann didn’t do very well on any of these fronts on this occasion.
She never mentioned life or marriage; she did include a call to stick with Reagan’s three-legged stool:
“Solomon said: a cord of three strands is not easily broken. As distressing as the economy may be, for our coalition to be victorious, it will take every one of us - everyone must bring together the fiscal conservative, national security, and social conservative groups together for 2012. This is as valid today as it has been for 35 years. some would have you believe that the rise of the tea party that conservatives only stand for one thing, namely reducing our deficit and debt. And while that's important, I strongly disagree that's all it is, and most conservatives would agree with this. Such a narrowly based political agenda is neither appropriate nor is it conducive to the broad base that will determine our success and help us win in 2012. I call on our movement to affirm our time-tested winning platform that rests equally on all three legs. I believe you are incredible talented, filled with excitement, motivated for 2012, and we need to win the triple crown of 2012, keeping a conservative House and winning the Senate and White House!”
I'm glad she doesn’t want to jettison social conservatives but what reason did Michelle offer as to why life and marriage matters to conservatism? Political pragmatism, sure, but nothing on principle.
The CPAC delegates loved Michelle Bachmann’s speech, but I'm not sure Iowa voters are going to be as impressed.
Grading Michelle Bachmann’s Speech
On Life: D
On Marriage: D
On Social Conservatism: B
(I’m leaving room in these grades for the pro-gay marriage or pro-abortion candidate, if one shows up!)