Steve Chapman

It's not a hard case to make at a time when unemployment is high and the economy is barely moving. The Obama stimulus plan and deficit financing have not restored the economy to its former vigor, and they may have slowed its recovery.

Bachmann is famous for her social conservatism, but abortion and same-sex marriage are absent from this speech. When the president is cursed with a dismal economy, he can't expect opponents to change the subject.

Spending, debt and economic growth are the urgent concerns of the day, and she offers herself as the most fiercely uncompromising candidate on these issues. That's why the people around Obama "fear my candidacy more than any other," Bachmann exults.

Never mind the contradiction between the budget outline she endorses, which envisions five more years of deficits, and her opposition to a higher debt ceiling, which would be needed to finance such deficits.

When she accuses the president of tripling the deficit, she neglects to mention that the tripling took place in fiscal year 2009 -- which began months before Obama took office and was largely the responsibility of his predecessor. When she says that by some measures, the dollar has lost 12 to 20 percent of its value under Obama, she leaves out that in terms of its purchasing power, the change has been less than 7 percent.

Nor is Obama likely to blanch at the prospect of running against a Republican whose chief theme -- that immovable resistance to bipartisan solutions and temperate compromise -- will repel more voters than it attracts.

Bachmann assures her audience, "I am the unifying candidate who will beat Barack Obama," something you would not suspect if she didn't tell you. Hard-core conservatives can wear themselves out on Bachmann's applause lines. Voters closer to the center will find little to cheer.

Her fierce positions and persona may be a hindrance in the long run. But Bachmann has some conservative Iowans on her side -- and an underpowered economy that, for the time being, will serve nicely as her electoral engine.

Steve Chapman blogs daily at COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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