One of the iron laws of liberal media bias in every electoral cycle is that moderates are more electable than "ultraconservatives," and when moderates lose (John McCain, Bob Dole, Gerald Ford), the law is never junked. Naturally, Time magazine turned to McCain consultant Mike Murphy for a column that mocked the electoral chances of Michele Bachmann for President:
Liberals already nervous about the President’s failures on the economy and his cynical wiggling on gay marriage now curse at a new villain on their television screens, secretly hoping Tina Fey does something and quick, because this new GOP bogeywoman seems far more polished, and therefore more worrisome, than Palin ever was. GOP professionals curse under their breath and reach for another Excedrin. Damn, they say, what is it about our party base and hopelessly unelectable women in snappy outfits?
Speaking of hopelessly unelectable women, this column comes from the man who managed the hapless moderate Meg Whitman's campaign in California in 2010, one of the most expensive losing campaigns in American political history: $177 million, of which $1.3 million a month was going to Murphy. That really should be in Time's little biography underneath. But the most kind of charming Republican to media liberals is a moderate who agrees with them that conservatives are an electoral disaster, even as they run moderate campaigns that lose.
But Murphy insists Bachmann's early support is causing "uncontrolled giggling" from the camp of Mitt Romney, whom he helped lose to Ted Kennedy in 2002:
Finally, the billion-volt electron microscopes of the national media will soon be trained on Bachmann now that she’s the official Iowa front runner. I’ll bet dollars to Minnesota lutefisk that despite her new squad of professional handlers, we are in for more of Bachmann’s factual fumbles. Her latest mix-up, confusing the birthplace of beloved American icon John Wayne with that of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, hints that Michele’s next moves on the national stage may receive more than a few boos and flying vegetables from the voting public. While media criticism of her factually erroneous rhetoric will only help her with her populist base, what is gold for America’s comedians is a 500-ton lead sinker for any candidate trying to build enough party-wide support to actually win the Republican nomination.
This is why the uncontrolled giggling you hear coming from behind the big blue curtain is from Mitt Romney, who must be delirious with joy. For Romney, a two-way contest with Bachmann is a strategic dream come true. (Disclaimer: I worked for Romney in 2002.) It would draw attention and money away from his two real rivals, Huntsman and Pawlenty, and give him a simple race against a candidate who would remove much of the ambivalence many big-league Republicans still harbor about him. Make no mistake: faced with the terrifying prospect of nominating Bachmann and handing the presidency to Obama, the Republican establishment would rally hard and fast behind Romney. And while a unified Republican establishment in full combat mode cannot compete with the Tea Party when it comes to making cardboard Uncle Sam hats, GOP Inc. can easily crush a candidate like Bachmann over the full series of primaries.
But for now, front runner Romney is more than happy to lie low and let Bachmann eclipse the rest of the GOP field. For now, Michele Bachmann is the change Mitt Romney's been waiting for.