Bachmann, Obama, and Vikings Oh My!


Bachmann is a Swiss Miss

In 2009 23% of the population did not believe Obama was a U.S. citizen. In 2011 Fox News poll, still a quarter of the population held this view with fully 40% thinking there is “cause to wonder” about his citizenship. Birthers remain unconvinced that Obama is an American citizen. Yet th ere is no debate–Michele Bachmann is a Swiss citizen.

Bachmann became a Swiss citizen by virtue of her husband Marcus who was able to claim citizenship by virtue of his parents. Congresswoman Bachmann automatically became Swiss by marriage. Normally no would care about this issue. But there is something ironic with Bachmann having dual citizenship.

First, many countries recognize dual citizenship, although the United States does not. Who knows how many Americans also have dual citizenship but it is not uncommon. Second, Bachmann’s dual citizenship does not render her ineligible to serve in the House of Representatives. Article I of the Constitution states that a House member must be 25 years old and a citizen of the United States for seven years. Bachmann meets these requirements so there is no problem.

In most cases perhaps no one would care if a member of Congress had dual citizenship. Some Jewish members have had dual citizenship with Israel. No one has criticized them for this. But Bachmann is different. Her entire political career has been about patriotism and wrapping the flag around her (remember her attempt to use “An American Girl” as her presidential campaign song). She also appealed to the Birther controversy to challenge Obama and she has hinted if not outright questioned his loyalty and patriotism. Think about if Obama had dual citizenship with Kenya. His patriotism would have been roundly questioned by Bachmann and the conservative media. One wonders if the same conservatives will blog about her and questions her loyalty to the USA.

Obama Comes Out

Obama is finally out–he supports same-sex marriage. He joins radicals such as Dick Cheney and Joe Biden in support of same-sex marriage. No one can really be surprised that Obama has “evolved” to this position. The question is why now and what are the political implications.

The now and why are about presidential politics. Think about his 2008 political coalition that included young people (under 30), progressives, and liberals. Since 08 he has disappointed all three and there is a concern that there is an enthusiasm gap among his base. Announcing support for gay marriage is meant to arouse excitement among these three constituencies, making the election in part a referendum on same-sex marriage. A vote for Obama is a vote for gay marriage.

Additionally, public opinion has shifted and now a majority support gay marriage. I think Obama waited cautiously to come out until public opinion was on his side. Thus, not a bold move. Moreover, Joe Biden’s announcement Sunday that he was comfortable with gay marriage was perhaps a trial balloon. He announced it, the White House watched and waited for reaction (perhaps they even did some polls in the last 48 hours), nothing bad happened, and therefore it made sense to endorse gay marriage.

Politically, Obama may be gambling that his decision will excite his base, women (who are more supportive of gay rights than men), and perhaps socially moderate swing voters. Yes social conservatives are angry about this but did any of them seriously not think he supported same sex marriage. Moreover I doubt it will mobilize or anger them any more than they are. They already dislike Obama and this just confirms their fears.

Obama and the Minnesota Connection

How does Obama’s announcement play in Minnesota? His announcement directly fuses his reelection to the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. This is not good news for supporters of the amendment.

Obama is popular in Minnesota and the state is pretty much his in the 2012 election. However Obama needed to motivate people to the polls. If the DFL are smart they pitch a vote for Obama as a vote for gay marriage and use that to drive young people to the poll. If they show up in droves they should also vote against the amendment. But just as good? If they vote for Obama but do not vote on the amendment then under Minnesota’s constitutional amending process, a non-vote is the same as a no vote. The same would happen with voter ID.

Minnesota and the Vikings

The Vikings got their stadium. The political lineup is interesting. The conservative Republicans–supposedly the party of corporations and rich–voted against the stadium handout and the DFL backed it. 

Dayton made this his signature legislative agenda this year. Moreover, the DFL supplied 56% of the votes for the stadium. If we analyze more tightly it may be that many who voted for it were retiring and therefore did not fear voter retribution. However, it is unlikely the voters will care. They did not in 06 when the legislature caved in to the Twins. In 2012 voters will care more about the economy, the government shutdown, and a host of other issues than they will necessarily care about this give away. And in districts where voters do care incumbents may be retiring.

The most unsettling part of the vote was what it says about the DFL. They look even more like the corporate Democrats they really are. It gets harder for them in November to criticize GOP priorities about cutting K-12 and borrowing against the tobacco endowment when they supplied the votes needed to give public money to a billionaire.