Since When is it Out of Bounds to Discuss Someone’s Public Record?

On Sunday’s Meet The Press, Tim Pawlenty, facing an uphill struggle to get noticed, criticized Michele Bachmann for having accomplished nothing of note in her four and one half years in Congress, as well as having no practical executive experience:

Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty said Sunday that 2012 rival Michele Bachmann has a “nonexistent” record of accomplishment during her three terms in Congress.


“We’re not looking for folks who just have speech capabilities,” Pawlenty said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’re looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting and drive it to conclusion. I’ve done that, and she hasn’t.”

For some reason, Pawlenty’s sober — and accurate — analysis of Bachmann’s career was deemed out of bounds by both conservative pundits and Bachmann herself (who preferred to change the subject).  Why?   Doesn’t the experience of the last three years demonstrate in no uncertain terms that we should thoroughly scrutinize a candidate’s record, especially when the candidate in question has a record noteworthy for its remarkable paucity of executive experience and concrete accomplishments?  (Incidentally, attending a rally in Washington that changed nothing is not a concrete accomplishment.) Today Ed Morrissey also expressed skepticism over this sudden notion that a candidate’s record (or lack thereof) is off limits, and explains why this approach could take a key weapon in the GOP arsenal off the table in 2012:

Republicans want to make the case in 2012 that Obama is incompetent thanks in part to a lack of previous executive experience and any track record of accomplishment in the Senate.  That case will be hard to make if Republicans nominate someone from the House with no executive experience and no track record of Congressional accomplishment.

Excellent point.  As I’ve argued before, if Republicans are dumb enough to nominate Mitt Romney in 2012, the unpopular and unaffordable Obamacare will be effectively taken off the table, along with a number of other issues.  By the same token, if Republicans were to nominate someone with as thin a resume as Michele Bachmann in 2012, Republicans would not be able to criticize Obama for his similarly sparse resume or, as we’re finding out, government largesse.  How will it help Republicans in 2012 to unilaterally disarm?

Governor Palin famously wondered during the 2008 presidential campaign why discussing Obama’s record was considered to be irrelevant, even extremist, by the mainstream media. Conservatives were correctly outraged by this unprecedented free pass given to a candidate for the most important office in the land.  Why, then, do some conservatives consider an examination of Michele Bachmann’s slowly emerging record, tenuous as it is, off limits now?  Do they honestly believe that Obama and his billion dollar campaign won’t unearth everything there is to find in the general election? Governor Palin has been more thoroughly vetted than any candidate in American history, and there will be no October surprise with her.  Can the same be said for Bachmann or other potential nominees?

A large part of the mess we’re in is due to Obama’s lack of any managerial experience, as Governor Palin has repeatedly reminded us.  Indeed in her recent Facebook Note, she made it clear that she doesn’t consider the presidency to be the best venue for on-the-job training:

…the office of the presidency is too important for on-the-job training. It requires a strong chief executive who has been entrusted with real authority in the past and has achieved a proven track record of positive measurable accomplishments. Leaders are expected to give good speeches, but leadership is so much more than oratory.

I can’t argue with that one bit.  We shouldn’t entrust someone with no executive experience with the most important executive job on the planet, as the past three years have made crystal clear.  The best way to determine one’s fitness for office is via a dispassionate assessment of their record (or lack of one), no? Liberals in 2008 disagreed with this concept and the disaster known as the Obama Presidency was the predictable result. Now, evidently, it appears that at least some conservatives want to repeat this mistake in the Republican primaries.  Not me.


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