What Do Michele Bachmann and a Serial Killer Have In Common?

Nothing. Yesterday Michele Bachmann was talking about her Iowa upbringing and uttered these completely unobjectionable lines:

“John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa,” Mrs. Bachmann told Carl Cameron of Fox News in an interview. “That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.”

My Lord, you would think she had said something really stupid, like that Franklin Roosevelt talked to our enemies, or had misquoted Churchill, or claimed that John Kennedy’s Vienna summit was a marvelous success, or that Texas has always been a Republican state. But no: Wayne actually was from Winterset, Iowa, 100 miles or so from Waterloo. So, who cares? Did this in any way invalidate the comparison she drew? Not at all.

But Democratic Party news outlets immediately started going crazy. MinnPost, a Democratic web site here in Minnesota, got the ball rolling by writing that “Bachmann apparently confuses actor John Wayne with serial killer John Wayne Gacy.” The site helpfully posted a YouTube video with the title “Michele Bachmann on John Wayne Gacy.”

What on earth does serial killer John Gacy have to do with Bachmann’s launch of her candidacy in Waterloo, Iowa? Nothing, except that some liberal figured out that he once lived there, before murdering 33 people in Chicago. Was Bachmann talking about him, or did she “confuse” John Wayne with a serial killer? Of course not. The whole thing was completely stupid.

But this is where it gets interesting. Because, no matter how dumb the John Wayne=John Gacy theme may have been, it wasn’t too stupid for the national Democratic Party press, as my friend Brian Ward pointed out at Fraters Libertas. The New York Times picked up the irrelevant talking point:

The actor was actually born in Winterset, Iowa, which is about 150 miles southwest of Waterloo. It was John Wayne Gacy, known as the killer clown who raped and murdered 33 teenage boys in the 1970s, who lived in Waterloo.

The Los Angeles Times joined in, as did CBS News, which got the story wrong:

As the Washington Times first noted, however, the actor John Wayne was born nearly 150 miles away in Winterset, Iowa. John Wayne Gacy, Jr. — the serial killer — was born in Waterloo.

Gacy wasn’t born in Waterloo, nor did the Washington Times say that he was. The Associated Press found significance in the story as part of a pattern of Bachmann getting things wrong:

And, on a less substantive note, she flubbed her hometown history when declaring “John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa,” and “that’s the kind of spirit that I have, too,” in running for president.
The actor was born nearly 150 miles away. It was the serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr. who lived, for a time, in Waterloo.

All of these Democratic Party news outlets gratuitously dragged serial killer John Gacy into the story even though he had nothing whatsoever to do with it, on the flimsy pretext that his middle name apparently was “Wayne.” What in the world is going on here?

We are now seeing on a national level the same phenomenon that we have witnessed in Minnesota for some years. Democrats are convinced that Michele Bachmann is “crazy.” Yet, in fact, she never does anything crazy, so they have to make stuff up. Their strategy is to find ways to introduce weird elements into their stories about Michele–here, a nearly-forgotten serial killer with the middle name “Wayne” who briefly lived in the town where Michele was born. They think that if they do this repeatedly, people will begin to associate Bachmann with weirdness, since it seems that whenever they hear about her, there is something wacky going on. But the craziness doesn’t come from Michele, it comes from her Democratic Party critics.

Will the strategy work? It is too early to say, but it is perhaps worth noting that in Minnesota, it was a partial success. Michele has never lost an election, so the Democrats failed in their principal object. At the same time, they tarred her sufficiently with their ginned-up controversies that she could never win a state-wide election. So apparently the national Democratic news outlets think the strategy is worth replicating.

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