The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Long Knives in Iowa

Posted on | August 5, 2011 | 38 Comments

Michelle Bachmann pushed “a pardon … for a convicted drug dealer/money launderer in 2007”?

They’re bringing it all now — as predicted — and check out this bit buried in today’s Wall Street Journal profile of Bachmann:

Ms. Bachmann has gone through four chiefs of staff and two acting chiefs in less than five years in Washington, payroll records show, an uncommonly high turnover rate. On average, House chiefs of staff serve for nearly seven years, a study for congressional administrators showed.
“I found out real fast that the Michele I knew publicly is not the behind-the-scenes Michele,” said Ron Carey, who was hired as Ms. Bachmann’s staff chief last year and says he quit less than six months later. Mr. Carey said that Ms. Bachmann was consumed with getting herself on television and seemed indifferent to the task of tending to her district, a view expressed by more than half a dozen other former aides.
“It was all about building the Bachmann brand,” Mr. Carey said. A former chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party, Mr. Carey had helped Ms. Bachmann win her first two congressional elections, in 2006 and 2008. He now supports former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty for president.

Former Bachmann aides now working for Pawlenty and attacking their former boss? And he expects to win:

Pawlenty is projecting confidence.
“This is going to be the start of the formal season. And I think we are going to do very well. I’m confident of that,” Pawlenty said Thursday night on Fox News.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for Pawlenty, either. His campaign faces perceived financial problems following a second quarter fundraising report that failed to meet expectations; some top aides are working for the Pawlenty campaign either for free, or for a meager salary.
To that end, the Pawlenty campaign’s poured thousands into radio and TV ads leading up to the straw poll . . .

UPDATE: Here’s the background on the drug-dealer pardon:

Bachmann wrote the letter urging [President Bush] to pardon Vennes for his 1987 conviction on federal money laundering, illegal firearm sales and cocaine distribution charges. He was sentenced to five years in federal prison. . . .
Vennes’ latest troubles involve an alleged giant Ponzi scheme with local billionaire Petters at the vortex of the widening probe. Although Vennes has not been charged, a federal search warrant affidavit accuses him of facilitating a $1.2 billion swindle of five investors in companies controlled by Petters, collecting more than $28 million in commissions in the process. . . .
Vennes, however, has been a major financial contributor to Bachmann since 2005. He and his wife, Kimberly, have contributed a total of $27,400 to Bachmann since 2005. Vennes’ brother and his wife, Greg and Stephanie Vennes, have contributed another $8,400 to Bachmann since 2005.

Matt Lewis reported on this in the Daily Caller in May.

UPDATE: Pawlenty’s prospects assessed by Doug Mataconis:

Pawlenty has been under performing in the polls from the beginning, and has never been able to get a boost to put him in the same category as candidates like Romney and Bachmann, or potential candidates like Rick Perry. Absent an outright win or a strong second, it’s going to be hard for him to maintain a credible campaign.

(Via Memeorandum.) The Wall Street Journal talks about Pawlenty’s attempt to manage the expectations game leading up to Ames:

Mr. Pawlenty’s prediction that he will do “very well” are the rosiest from the former governor’s camp as of late, and his campaign’s actions suggest it intends to place better than fifth place. . . . A fifth place finish would mean Mr. Pawlenty is outperformed by second-tier candidates such as Herman Cain and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
His campaign estimates it will have spent $1 million in the Hawkeye State before the straw poll . . .
As the campaign notes, Mr. Pawlenty finished sixth in a late June survey of likely Iowa caucus goers. But the Real Clear Politics Average of Iowa polls shows Mr. Pawlenty in third place in state polls, coming in behind Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) and Mr. Romney. . . . It creates a difficult balancing act for team Pawlenty: The campaign doesn’t want to downplay its successes and strong organization in Iowa, but it also doesn’t want campaign watchers to expect Mr. Pawlenty to finish in first or second place Aug. 13.

Regardless of the expectations, if Pawlenty finishes third at Ames, it’s bad for him. If he’s fourth or fifth at Ames, it’s a catastrophe. So the main expectation is this: Pawlenty’s going to be fighting like a cornered rat for the next eight days.


38 Responses to “Long Knives in Iowa”

  1. Joe
    August 5th, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

    Tim Pawlenty is beating up on Michelle because he wants to be viable as Mitt Romney’s wing man.  Sort of like Batman and Robin

  2. Anonymous
    August 5th, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

    “consumed with getting herself on television ”

    I know that if I was the new kid on the block and wanted to get my message out, the last thing I’d want is broader exposure. D’oh.

  3. ThePaganTemple
    August 5th, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

    Regardless of his motivations, if Bachmann did push for a pardon for a convicted drug dealer and money launderer, it damn sure doesn’t look good, especially if one of his partners contributed money to her campaign. Matter of fact, it looks terrible. It’s going to be hard to spin that as “well that’s just Pawlenty trying to derail Bachmann’s campaign”, unless the charge against Bachmann just isn’t true. Now why do I doubt that?

  4. Anonymous
    August 5th, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

    I’m lukewarm on Bachman, but I followed the link to the “drug dealer” story (which RSM provided above) and, in the absence of further revelations, the story seems like small potatoes.

    From what I can tell, the guy Vennes was presenting himself as someone who “saw the light,” turned his life around, and became active in charities, etc. As long as Bachman was genuinely unaware that Vennes had gone bad again and/or she did not have a close, intimate personal relationship with him, I don’t see the problem. 

    There are thousands of those types out there in the charitable networks, especially in the urban “social justice” sectors. Most of them are legit, and remain so,  but others are/do not.

    If the media researched all of the “con men” (ex-convicts turned confidence-men) who are affiliated with urban community development projects/programs (often supported by community organizers), they’d expose hundreds of Vennes attached to Democrat politicians, too. 

    Obviously, the media would never do that. They will, of course, help Pawlenty take some shots at Bachman and they’ll do it without the slightest sense of shame.  

  5. Anamika
    August 5th, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

    What’s happening at Team Palin? Isn’t she even considered as a potential candidate now? hahaha!

  6. Anonymous
    August 5th, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

    Vetting. Only Gov Palin has been vetted. The rest are waiting their turn and here it comes.
    The Kommiecrat Disinformation Bureau, somethines called The MFM, will hammer the head that rises.
    Cain call your office! You’re next.
    Mitts if off the hook as he is the MFMs choice for the GOP…until the nomination that is.

  7. Anamika
    August 5th, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

    Huckabee had a similar problem with pardon(s). I think the problem here is with the fundie types who let their religious gullibility come in the way of proper judgment.

  8. The Wondering Jew
    August 5th, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

    It’s far better to have this stuff in the sunshine right now than to have it be something the Dems dig up in the general. The staff issue is out there, and has been a big concern to others generally positively disposed to Bachmann (including myself).  I want to see her address it in a meaningful and substantive way. 

  9. Pawlenty On the Warpath « The Rhetorican
    August 5th, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

    […] Pawlenty On the WarpathPawlenty On the Warpath: Target: Bachmann? […]

  10. Adjoran
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

    The excuse that Bachmann “didn’t know he had gone bad again” doesn’t wash.  That would excuse a photo-op with the guy at a community center opening, but writing a pardon request is putting your own reputation on the line for the pardonee, saying he is either innocent or truly repentant and rehabilitated.  It’s a question of judgment, and when a candidate has never held a position of executive responsibility, those decisions she has made are individually more significant.

    Pawlenty could only survive a third place finish at Ames if he wins the debate, which seems unlikely due to his style of speaking and reticence to confront his opponents directly.  But the money will dry up completely if he falls short here.  Given the type of candidate he is, he needs the money to keep flowing.

    There will only be room for three candidates in the top tier coming out of Iowa in February (?).  Ironically, most of the also-rans (except Paul, who runs on energy collected by his bot army) will be eliminated by the money primary in the first cycle in a long time where challengers could last.  Super Tuesday appears down to nine states and far fewer delegates.  Anything less than a sweep won’t clinch the nomination, and even a sweep won’t do it with actual delegates, just perception.

  11. Walley
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

    Well said, PGlenn.  The stories I could tell but won’t. 

  12. Walley
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

    to: Anamika – I don’t think it’s “fundies” but I do think it’s political competitors AND their supporters, paid or otherwise.

    200 people writing comments on dozens/hundreds of sites every day can, over time, appear to the general public to represent some “wave” or majority of public opinion, when they’re merely a small batch of campaigners eager to ruin competitors.

    Pawlenty, in my view, has lost a great deal of credibility with his bashing of Bachmann.

  13. Walley
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

    BUT I agree that this makes Bachmann look tawdry.  I can understand someone with a troubled life changing their life for the good, but once done, it’s difficult to accept that they’re sincere when they return to the bad life they led and try to be covert about it.

    Did Bachmann know what this donor and wife were up to when they returned to their bad behaviors?  If she says she wasn’t aware, perhaps we should take her word for it because among political donors, usually t he focus is on those who make first-time donations of the big-ticket kind.  Afterward, not so much “vetting”…

  14. Roxeanne de Luca
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

    an uncommonly high turnover rate. On average, House chiefs of staff
    serve for nearly seven years, a study for congressional administrators

    The question isn’t whether or not Bachmann’s turnover rate is average or not – average being, of course, often worse than what is possible – but whether or not it was a good thing.  If her chiefs of staff were Washington cronies who were intent on doing business as usual, sucking at the federal teat, and otherwise not helping her, then she should kick them out until she gets staff who are into small government and liberty.

  15. Bob Belvedere
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

    The resemblances are spot-on.

  16. Bob Belvedere
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

    To the 1960’s camp versions.

  17. Bob Belvedere
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:56 pm
  18. Bob Belvedere
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

    Exactly.  While we have to suspect anything ‘former’ and ‘disgruntled’ staffers have to say, the fact is (1) the MSM will run with these storys as long as they can and (2) when there’s enough of these kind of tales out there, the circumstantial evidence must be investigated.

  19. rosalie
    August 5th, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

    I would never say “never” with Palin.  Her style is somewhat unpredictable.  At this point, I think she could play the MSM like a violin.  I hope she runs.

  20. Adjoran
    August 5th, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

    So you’re saying if she is an extraordinarily bad screener of her potential employees, that’s a GOOD thing?

    She’s averaging more than a chief of staff (or “acting chief) per year in DC, what does that say about her ability to staff the cabinet and government?

    Between the pardon request and the turnover of top staff, it seems to indicate that Bachmann is not a very good judge of character, does it not?

  21. Anonymous
    August 5th, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

    “. . . The MFM, will hammer the head that rises.” Spot on!

    Maybe we should airlift rescue of our two favorite conservative/libertarian candidates and then, while they are safely kept at a distance, allow the 2012 GOP primary process to turn into a Quinten Tarantino movie: a bloody circular firing squad of RINOs, MFMs, and the “progressive” infrastructure.

    Then, in August 2012, after the smoke has cleared and we’ve cleaned up all the bodies, we’ll simply airdrop our two favorite candidates into the Tampa convention center just in time for the nomination (the RINO with the most primary votes will have to resign thanks to a manufactured scandal).  

  22. Blackwater
    August 5th, 2011 @ 7:46 pm

    Bachmann is NOT qualified to be President. Besides being a loon, she has ZERO executive experience, a MUST HAVE for our next President.

    Bachmann has never run a city, never run a state, and can’t even run her small staff.

    Past that, she’s a serial liar, a fake, fraud, and a phony. She only leached herself to the Tea Party once she figured out it would further her career as a CAREER politician. Before that she was a huge porker who couldn’t care less about fiscal issues. It was also social issues and gay bashing for Bachmann and her husband, who’s gayer than Liberace’s houseboy.

    Bachmann thinks “The Lion King” is gay propaganda and once claimed she was “kidnapped” by gay nuns! She also got caught hiding in the bushes at a gay rally. She was spying on them.

    The left would sell their souls to the devil (for a second time) to make sure Bachmann was the nominee.  Obama wouldn’t even have to campaign to win!

    We need a proven leader who HAS run a city, has run a state, has been an oil and gas regulator, and who has been whipping Obama like a rented mule since the 2008 election.

    Sarah Palin is the only one who can turn this mess around. She has done it before. 

    Accept no substitutes.

  23. Anonymous
    August 5th, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

    That’s a fair point. Depending on how well Bachman knew the guy, it might be a question of judgment, especially as she is vying for the highest position of executive responsibility.

    But all candidates will have exhibited questionable judgment in the past – is it indicative of a larger pattern?

  24. The GOP Horse Race | The Lonely Conservative
    August 5th, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

    […] of us are treated like chopped liver. But I digress. Things are heating up. Stacy reported that the long knives are out. Let’s hope they don’t come out so far that whatever mud is slung doesn’t get […]

  25. Anonymous
    August 5th, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

    PG Haha
    BUT exect the Gov to arrive by bus

  26. ThePaganTemple
    August 5th, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

    Now that’s a troll.

  27. JeffS
    August 5th, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

    Huckabee was naive in his willingness to forgive people who were clearly a threat to the public.  That’s not a religions issue, it’s a human issue, and is present on both sides of the political aisle. 

    And the elected executives who pardon known criminals for political or personal gain, regardless of their ideology, there’s a special place in Hell for them.

  28. JeffS
    August 5th, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

    If the media researched all of the “con men” (ex-convicts turned
    confidence-men) who are affiliated with urban community
    development projects/programs (often supported by community organizers),
    they’d expose hundreds of Vennes attached to Democrat politicians, too.

    Like, oh, say……..Obama?

  29. JeffS
    August 5th, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

    Team Palin ain’t saying.  So I wouldn’t laugh just yet, lest the last laugh be on you.

  30. ThePaganTemple
    August 5th, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

    I always thought there was something funny about Bill Clinton talking her up. I expected him to do so with Romney and Huntsman, but him mentioning Bachmann as an impressive candidate made me do a double take. As far as some of the stuff you said about her, how much of that stuff is actually true? Thinking The Lion King is gay propaganda, BTW, isn’t so off the wall. Anymore, television and film in general is gay propaganda, just some more obviously so than others.

  31. Anonymous
    August 6th, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

    She can take it… to be expected I guess

    Linked at RR

    In Wake of Historical US Credit Downgrade, Bachmann Calls for Geithner to Resign

  32. rosalie
    August 6th, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

    Sorry, didn’t realize it was in reply to you. 

  33. An Important Detail, and Pawlenty’s Last Stand
    August 7th, 2011 @ 4:05 am

    […] or later, someone in need of copy would report on it, and sure enough—as Stacy reports today, anti-Bachmann stories are breaking, though even people who don’t prefer Bachmann—like […]

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