Eric Alterman wrote recently that Michele Bachmann should not be taken seriously as a national political force.
Alterman is correct that the public has a right to expect that a Member of Congress from Minnesota and putative Republican presidential aspirant like Bachmann has an obligation to possess a requisite amount of knowledge to fulfill any kind of positive role within the American political system.
To be taken seriously Bachmann needs to have at least some of that quality they refer to as gravitas. This stems from knowing certain important facts and taking sober and reasoned positions on basic issues.
What troubled Alterman and scores of other Americans is that recently Bachmann proclaimed that America's Founding Fathers detested slavery and eliminated it. As many respondents pointed out, any informed grade school youngster knows that slavery was not abolished until Abraham Lincoln waged a bloody civil war.
This conflict cost more American lives than any other the nation fought. It was not until Abraham Lincoln's Union forces defeated the Confederacy that the scourge of slavery was eliminated.
Bachmann then visited New Hampshire and delivered a speech in gives all evidence of a fledgling presidential run, a trial balloon. It was plausible to visit New Hampshire given its importance as the second key state in the 2012 primary sweepstakes following the also crucial Iowa caucuses.
The Minnesotan sought to please citizens in the "live free or die" state by proclaiming that New Hampshire played a vital role in the American revolutionary cause through the significance of Lexington and Concord.
While it is true that the first military engagements of the American Revolution were fought in those historic cities, the bad news for Bachmann is that she had the wrong state. Once again, an informed grade school student knows that the historically significant states of Lexington and Concord are located in Massachusetts and not New Hampshire.
Commentators are best adapted to speaking from their own personal experiences. Here is where MSNBC talk show host Lawrence O'Donnell entered the picture in critiquing Bachmann. Before becoming a commentator O'Donnell served as a Democratic aide in the U.S. Senate.
Like Alterman, O'Donnell was aghast at Bachmann's manifestations of historical ignorance. He added another significant point.
O'Donnell knows through personal experience the importance of members of the House and Senate hiring top staffers. A former five term House member told me that a major reason why Ted Kennedy became one of the major figures in Senate history was that he possessed a brilliant staff.
O'Donnell found it at least as inconceivable as well as unforgivable that, considering the fact that Bachmann's gaffes were prepared statements, her staff was not there to protect her. O'Donnell's question was what kind of staff Bachmann has advising her.
While progressives have concentrated their focus on how unqualified Bachmann is to serve in the House much less as president, a case can be made that a run for the presidency would serve the national interest.
As a favorite of Tea Party circles who is a fixture at their major rallies and seminars, having her as a presidential candidate would give the nation's voters a chance to evaluate the Tea Party and the causes for which it stands as well as the candidate herself.
Many within the Tea Party deny that it has a racial component. Some say that the Birther question is a fringe issue and that the Tea Party should be taken seriously for what it actually is, a tax protest force reminiscent of the early days of America. They explain that their very name is symbolic of their status as a tax protest party, that bold act of American colonists dumping British tea into Boston Harbor to protest tax policies.
It is no accident that the two favorites of Tea Partiers are Glenn Beck on the airwaves and Bachmann in the political sphere. Beck is noted for imputations of treason in the worst tradition of Senator Joseph McCarthy, even invoking puppet shows to enhance his on camera message.