George Will Slights Bachmann’s Fitness to ‘Control' Nukes--Just as He Slighted Palin's

August 14, 2011 - 3:08 PM

Bachmann 2012

Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. speaks during a campaign stop at the Competitive Edge plant in Clive, Iowa, Aug. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

(Commentary) - Washington Post columnist George Will, who has never commanded anything with greater throw-weight than a word processor, suggested on ABC’s “This Week” this morning that President Barack Obama would have an easier time in the general election defeating Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann than Texas Gov. Rick Perry because the “threshold question in any presidential race” is “[s]hould this person have control of nuclear weapons.”

Earlier this year, Will used very similar terms to deprecate what he also perceives to be former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's lack of fitness to control the U.S. nuclear arsenal as president.

Palin, Bachmann and Perry all have one thing in common: They are conservative Republicans. Palin and Perry have one thing in common that they do not share with Bachmann: They both have served as governors of states.

Yet Bachmann has one qualification neither Perry nor Palin has: As a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, she has served in a federal office that has oversight over national security issues.

And Palin and Bachmann have one common characteristic they do not share with Perry: They are both women. 

Is this why Will deprecates Palin's and Bachmann's fitness to command the U.S. nuclear arsenal, but not Perry's?

Perry and Bachmann were both much in the news this morning because Perry announced yesterday he was seeking the Republican presidential nomination and Bachmann won the presidential straw poll held in Ames, Iowa by the Iowa Republican Party.

On ABC News' "This Week," Will responded to a question from moderator Jake Tapper about why, according to Tapper, “there are a lot of Republicans in Washington … who are very worried about Michele Bachmann getting the nomination.”

“Do they have a point to make?” Tapper asked Will. “Is she not electable on a national stage?”

“Barack Obama's best hope is the Republican nominating electorate,” Will responded, according to the transcript of the show published by ABC News. “He does not want this to be a referendum on his record. He wants it to be a referendum on the fitness for office of the Republican nominee. ‘Should this person have control of nuclear weapons?’ is the threshold question in any presidential race. And I think they're going to find that, in this question between Perry and Bachmann, that's an easy choice. Furthermore, Texas is to Republicans what California is to the Democrats, the largest reliable source of cash and electorate votes. In six of the late eight elections, there's been a Texan on the Republican ticket; 17 of the last 48 years there's been a Texan president. So this is not unusual.”

This was quite similar to what Will said about Sarah Palin on the May 29 edition of "This Week."

That day, according to the transcript posted by ABC News, host Christiane Amanpour asked Will: "Is Sarah Palin going to run?"

Will said: "I don't know."

Amanpour asked: "What do you think?"

"Two things are infinite," Will responded. "One is the expanding universe, and the other is media attention to Sarah Palin, who's a genius at manipulating it. She has several political problems, the first of which is there's no undecided vote in this country anymore about Sarah Palin, surely.

"Second, the threshold question," Will continued. "It's not usually asked, but it's in everyone's mind in a presidential election. Should we give this person nuclear weapons? And the answer is--answers itself there. That doesn't mean she can't be without political consequence."

Will in that May 29 show then directly likened Palin to Bachmann. "If she gets in now," said Will, "it will be because, I think, Michele Bachmann is about to get in, and they take up the same political space, and the two of them there can be devastating to Tim Pawlenty, because he has great appeal to the evangelical Christians who are dispositive in Iowa, and she can divide that vote and take it away from him, and thereby help Romney."

Will did not explain in the program this morning why he believes it would be an “easy choice” between Perry and Bachmann as to which one could more readily be depicted by an opposition campaign as unqualified to control nuclear weapons.

Perry has never served in federal office, while, as noted, Bachmann is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Perry, according to the biography on his gubernatorial website, did serve from 1972 to 1977 in the United States Air Force flying C-130 cargo planes in the United States, the Middle East and Europe. Bachmann did not serve in the military.

Perry graduated from Texas A&M in 1972 with a degree in animal science. In 1985, he was elected to the Texas state House of Representatives. In 1990, he was elected Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, an office in which he served two terms. In 1998, he was elected Texas lieutenant governor. In 2000, he succeeded George W. Bush as governor, after Bush was elected president. Since then, Perry has been elected governor of Texas three times.

Bachmann, according to the biography on her congressional website, graduated from Winona State University then earned a law degree Oral Roberts University and an L.L.M. in tax law from the College of William and Mary. She was tax-case litigator for the federal government and she and her husband started a health-care business. In 2000, she was elected to the Minnesota State Senate and served there until 2006, when she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

She is the first Republican woman to represent Minnesota in the U.S. House.

Perry who has been married for 29 years has two children; Bachmann who has been married for more than 30 years has five children and 23 foster children. Both Perry and Bachmann have taken the pro-life on the issue of abortion, believing government should protect the lives of innocents.