Jill Burcum: Two for Tea, but who will be the One?

  • Article by: JILL BURCUM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 12, 2010 - 6:25 PM

But if only one of them can be 'The One,' which one will it be?

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Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann in Minneapolis

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has three elections under her belt, an overflowing campaign war chest and a sky-high profile thanks to her numerous appearances on Fox News. So how much longer will she be content playing junior attendant to current Tea Party queen Sarah Palin? (If this were a sports competition, the announcer would be calling it a "key matchup to watch.") The Tea Party movement, which flexed its muscle this election year, is still small. Time will tell if there's elbow room in it for two similar, ambitious alpha-females mentioned as contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential ticket. So how do these two political headliners stack up? Here's a quick look at key metrics:

MOM APPEAL

Sarah Palin

Five kids; grandchild.

Michele Bachmann

Five kids; 23 foster kids.

Edge:

Toss-up. Neither can out-mom the other.

CATCH PHRASE

Sarah Palin

"Mama Grizzlies."

Michele Bachmann

"Nation of slaves." (From a 2010 Colorado speech bemoaning big government.)

Edge

Palin. Ferocious-but-cuddly rally cry nicely updates and inspires soccer-mom demographic.

POLITICAL RÉSUMÉ

Sarah Palin

Mayor of Wasilla; one unfinished term as Alaska governor; failed vice-presidential bid.

Michele Bachmann

Six years in Minnesota state Senate; elected to three terms as U.S. House of Representatives.

Edge:

Bachmann. Hasn't quit mid-office. Just thumped the latest Democrat who tried to knock her off.

EDUCATION

Sarah Palin

Bachelor's degree in communications, University of Idaho.

Michele Bachmann

Undergrad from Winona State; law degree from Oral Roberts; Master of Law degree from College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law.

Edge:

Bachmann. Palin flunked Katie Couric's current events quiz/interview in 2008. A law degree? Not happening.

BEST FLAME-THROWING COMMENT

Sarah Palin

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel.'"

Michele Bachmann

"I am very concerned that he [Barack Obama] may have anti-American views."

Edge:

Palin. Her ludicrous Facebook post almost inspired enough fear and loathing to derail health reform. Bachmann's comment was more eye-rolling than fear-inducing.

NATIONALLY TELEVISED CRINGE-INDUCING MOMENT

Sarah Palin

Interview with Katie Couric during 2008 presidential campaign.

Michele Bachmann

"Death grip" on then-President George W. Bush at the 2007 State of the Union address.

Edge:

Bachmann. Being a Stage 5 clinger beats looking ignorant. Couric's interview shredded Palin's credibility. Bachmann's presidential Vulcan Nerve Pinch was kooky but harmless.

TRUTH-O-METER

Sarah Palin

Of 42 Palin statements checked by PolitiFact.com, 35 percent were rated as flat-out falsehoods. The rest garnered Barely True, Half True, Mostly True or True ratings.

Michele Bachmann

PolitiFact.com has vetted 12 Bachmann statements for veracity. She went 0 for 12. As for the ridiculous rumor about the $200 million-a-day presidential trip? Had this tax attorney actually thought about the numbers, she would have realized it didn't add up. The falsehood helped torpedo Bachmann's bid for a GOP leadership position. Is there a lesson to be learned here?

Edge:

Toss-up. While there's a grain of truth somewhere in many Palin statements, she also was awarded PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" in 2009 for her "death panel" claim. Bachmann surely is a future Hall of Famer when it comes to PolitiFact's "Pants On Fire" rating, given not just for falsehood but ridiculousness. Forty-two percent of her statements merited this ignominious classification.

MEDIA EXPOSURE

Sarah Palin

Reality show on TLC; under contract to Fox News as analyst; Facebook "Likes:" 2,395,062.

Michele Bachmann

Regular on Fox News; in-demand guest on wide range of talk shows; Facebook "Likes:" 142,218.

Edge:

Toss-up. Bachmann is all over cable and network TV, not tied down to one or two channels. Palin's Facebook page is more modern-day oracle than mere social media. Being tied to Fox News minimizes opportunities for come-back-to-haunt-her gaffes.

POLITICAL SHELF LIFE

Sarah Palin

Palin doesn't hold political office. Fame, Facebook and Twitter aren't enough to sustain a career.

Michele Bachmann

Bachmann cruises to congressional victories in Minnesota. Unlike Palin, she can author legislation. Bachmann has fame, influence and staying power.

Edge:

Bachmann. Palin's big chance is 2012. Bachmann has numerous shots at higher office.

OVERALL WINNER

Bachmann. Palin is arguably the bigger star right now, but Bachmann is ascendant and poised to eclipse her in the long haul. Minnesota's love-her-or-hate-her congresswoman is certainly not what feminists had in mind when they agitated for women in higher office, but Bachmann has singlehandedly built herself into a nationally known political brand. As for having two women wielding such power in a major political party? Whatever your thoughts on Bachmann and Palin, that's still progress.

Jill Burcum is a Star Tribune editorial writer.

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