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Michele Bachmann? I just don't get it

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
  • LZ Granderson: Iowa polls show Bachmann, Romney in virtual tie for top of the pack
  • Bachmann's "gaffes" seriously misinformed to a dangerous extent, he says
  • He thinks she represents a fringe that distracts from conversations that really matter

Editor's note: LZ Granderson writes a weekly column for He has just been named Journalist of the Year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and, and a a 2010 nominee and the 2009 winner of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation award for online journalism. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs

Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) -- According to recent polls by The Des Moines Register and The Iowa Republican, Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney are in a virtual tie for top of the pack, with Bachmann edging ahead, among caucus-goers.

Romney's appeal I get. He's a former governor who has run before and comes from a political family.

But Bachmann's? I just can't figure it out.

When she first broke onto the scene in 2009, I could understand the draw. The tea party movement was new, Sarah Palin was out chasing moose, and in soundbites, Bachmann came across as a thoughtful conservative worried about the country's future.

But we now know that Bachmann's not interested in cleaning up Washington. She wants to baptize it with her theology and half-truths. She wants to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency, even though that branch of government is responsible for making sure we have clean air and water. And my new personal favorite, courtesy of the Marriage Vow pledge she signed, she wants to rid the country of porn.

Bachmann's not interested in cleaning up Washington, she wants to baptize it with her theology and half-truths.
--LZ Granderson
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So, she seems more concerned with dirty magazines than dirty water and doesn't see the contradiction in signing a document vowing to ban porn and to provide a "fierce defense of the First Amendment rights" at the same time. And some people honestly want her to be president?

I thought the country would have figured her out by now, much the same way we caught on to the joke that was Donald Trump 2012. But while her fellow birther faded into a punchline months ago, we're just a few weeks out from the famed Iowa straw poll. And Bachmann could win it.

For some reason, no matter how ridiculous some of her statements are, she keeps getting more popular. It's like that one season of "American Idol" when people kept voting for Sanjaya, not because he was a good singer -- in fact he was awful -- but just to screw with the system. A large part of me hopes these poll numbers reveal some wild and free Iowans also screwing with the system.

I'm not one to sit and nitpick every word a politician might say. When you're in front of a microphone as much as they are, you are bound to either flub something or have something you said misconstrued.

But when you refer to the Obama administration as a "gangster government," and a year or so later sign a document that suggested black Americans were better off when they were slaves; and contend that the forefathers worked tirelessly to end slavery -- despite the fact that they owned slaves -- I no longer characterize those moments as gaffes.

I call them revealing.

If Howard Dean's campaign can be derailed because he once yelled like a crazy person, it is unbelievable that Bachmann's campaign has thrived despite her sounding like one. Is the country's political system so upside down that a candidate can find followers by promising smaller government at the same time wanting government to expand to ban porn and slow down the divorce process?

Sometimes her views make for good laughs, but other times she and her kind express views that muddy an already filthy process.

Knowing that she is wielding her popularity to influence the debt-ceiling conversation isn't comedic, it's tragic. Her views do not represent the best interest for the majority of the American people, they represent a fringe that needs to be called out so the nation can pay attention to the conversations that really matter.

Members of the tea party thought President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S., saying they had nothing more than a gut feeling. Where is the gut feeling when it comes to Bachmann?

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

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