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TYRRELL: The charismatic Michele Bachmann

Conservative candidate is a stunning package of beauty and intelligence

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So there are two. Two pulchritudinous ones, that is. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin are very beautiful, and the feminists ask us, "So what?" Well, they never say "so what" when an attractive male, usually a Democrat, comes on stage. They call him charismatic. Mrs. Bachmann and Mrs. Palin are sufficiently charismatic for me, and both have raised families. Mrs. Bachmann had five children of her own and 23 foster children before entering public life. That is the proper sequence of events: Raise a family, enter public life.

Now Mrs. Bachmann has entered public life in a big way. She declared her candidacy for president Monday night at the Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire. Her answers were crisp and persuasive. She is strong on social and economic issues and also on intelligence and security matters. Rather brilliantly, she suggested her expertise by drawing on her experience on congressional committees, namely intelligence and financial oversight committees. She is a Tea Partyer and a social conservative. In the campaign, both areas need addressing.

But what caught my eye was an answer she gave to Stephen Moore in a Wall Street Journal interview over the weekend. Explaining how she voted for Paul Ryan's budget, she said she did so "with an asterisk" because the "asterisk is that we've got a huge messaging problem [on Medicare]. It needs to be called the 55-and-Under Plan. I can't tell you the number of 78-year-old women who think we're going to pull the rug out from under them." Mrs. Bachmann has faced up to the Democrats' gaudy lie that people age 56 and older are facing Medicare cuts with the Ryan plan. They are not - not with the Ryan budget. With the Obamacare plan we are all facing the eclipse of Medicare. Medicare will be slashed for everyone very soon, and that is written into the president's policy. Better it is to note that Mr. Ryan's reform gives us plenty of time to fix the system before the under 55-year-olds enter the depleted policy and are faced with the cuts that even the older seniors now face.

Knowing how to package proposals is very important to reform, and one way or the other, the country faces reform of its entitlement programs. Let the Democrats whistle in the dark. Some Republicans are offering alternatives to national bankruptcy.

In her interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mrs. Bachmann explained that she is versed in the economists: Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman. You cannot get much better than that, and I saved Friedman for last. He was the master in understanding the modern economy.

The liberals have, like a vast shoal of squid, spread an inky cloud over the financial meltdown. Mrs. Bachmann dispels the darkness regarding its origins. Says she, "There were a lot of bad actors involved, but it started with the Community Reinvestment Act under Jimmy Carter and then the enhanced amendments that Bill Clinton made to force, in effect, banks to make loans to people who lacked creditworthiness. If you want to come down to a bottom line of 'How did we get in this mess?' I think it was a reduction in standards." Then she goes on to say, "Being on the Financial Services Committee, I can assure you, all roads lead to Freddie and Fannie," the mortgage lenders, and off she goes talking about constitutional limits. She has a Tea Partyer's proper concern for the Constitution.

The other night, it is said, no one really stood out. I disagree. The pulchritudinous Michele Bachmann stole the show. She was charismatic and eloquent. She got the most attention and she had only been in the race a few minutes. Give her a few more debates and we shall see just how ready she is for a national run.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is "After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery" (Thomas Nelson, 2010).

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