Who is Michele Bachmann?
My friend Muddling over at the Muddling Towards Maturity blog notified me this morning that the Weekly Standard has posted the most detailed profile in on Michele Bachmann so far. I took at look at the article, and he’s right. There is a lot of new stuff here. Check out this excerpt, and if you like it, read the whole thing. I will put links to some of her other interviews and speeches at the bottom of this post.
Michele Amble was born on April 6, 1956, in Waterloo, Iowa, the second of four children and the only girl. Her childhood was modest. Her parents owned a small home and rented out the top floor for income. Her father was studying to be an engineer. When Michele was four, the family moved into a three-bedroom rambler. “It was probably lower middle class,” she said, “and then, as families do, we moved up to middle class.” She was baptized and raised in the Lutheran church.
The Ambles come from Norwegian immigrants who arrived in America in the middle of the nineteenth century. They trace their roots in Iowa back seven generations. They were Democrats. The one Republican Michele knew well as a child was her paternal grandmother, a devoted Wall Street Journal and Time magazine reader who, like her other grandparents, worked in a factory. David Amble, Michele’s father, was the first in the family to go to college.
When Michele was in elementary school, her father got a job designing ordnance at Honeywell. The work took the Ambles to Anoka, Minnesota, north of the Twin Cities. Then came a time of upheaval. Her parents divorced. Her father moved to California. Michele and her brothers remained in Minnesota with their mother, Jean. The family fell into poverty overnight. “My mom made about $4,800 a year,” Michele said. Jean was a bank teller.
Michele was 13 years old. She and her mother had a conversation. “My mom said, ‘One thing that can never be taken away from you is your education,’ ” Bachmann told me in a 2009 interview. If she worked hard in school, her mother went on, she’d have a foundation for life. Michele became a devoted student at Anoka High, graduating early. She was popular and was elected to the homecoming court in the fall and winter semesters. She was never queen, though. “I won Miss Congeniality once,” she said.
[…]When she returned to the States, Michele enrolled at a community college near Anoka. Money was tight. She’d often work three jobs—school bus driver, restaurant hostess, all sorts of things. The following summer she went to Alaska, where she worked for an uncle who lived in the Aleutian Islands. Alaska’s oil boom was just beginning, and geologists scoured the rocks for signs of petroleum. Michele tarred roofs, cleaned fish, washed dishes, and cooked meals. In Alaska she fell into conversation with a geologist who wanted to know her plans. Michele told him she didn’t want to go back to community college, and she also didn’t have any money. The geologist recommended Winona State University in the southeastern part of Minnesota, near the Mississippi River.
[…]It was at Winona State that Michele began to date Marcus Bachmann… Michele and Marcus married after graduating from college in 1978. They spent the next year working in Minnesota, Michele at the Buffalo County judge’s office, Marcus in social work. Then began the long juggling act of continuing their education while holding jobs and raising kids. The family moved to Tulsa, then Virginia Beach, for graduate school. By the time they wound up in Stillwater, Minnesota, in the late 1980s, the Bachmanns had a law degree from Oral Roberts (Michele), a master’s in tax law from William and Mary (Michele), a master’s in education and counseling from Regent University (Marcus), and a growing family.
Marcus went on to open two successful Christian counseling clinics. Bachmann worked as a federal tax attorney until the birth of her fourth child. She always had plenty to do. “We taught all of our children to read and write at home before we sent them to school, and we sent our biological children to Christian school,” she said.
The Bachmanns also opened their home to teenage girls with eating disorders. The maximum number of kids, biological and nonbiological, they had at one time was nine. There came a moment when “we found ourselves with a seventh grader, a first grader, a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a nursing newborn,” Bachmann said, “and four foster children.” There were so many kids in the house the family applied for a group home license.
Bachmann was involved in all aspects of her children’s education. In the early 1990s, she joined the board of a Christian-influenced charter school in Stillwater. She left that position in 1993, but remained interested in civic life. She and Marcus were active in the pro-life movement. Curriculum reform, though, was the issue that eventually drove her into politics.
The article goes on to talk about her legislative initiatives and political accomplishments.
I just have to include this part about how she got her start, as an inspiration to all of my readers:
In April 2000, as the fight to overturn the Profile of Learning continued, Bachmann attended her local nominating convention for state senate. The incumbent, moderate Republican Gary Laidig, had 28 years’ experience. But he was increasingly out of step with the conservative families pouring into the St. Paul suburbs. As the convention began, Bachmann conversed with her fellow activists. Laidig had to go, they said. Someone suggested Bachmann run against him.
She didn’t know what to do. She was wearing jeans and tennis shoes and a sweatshirt with a hole in it. She’d had no business leaving the house that morning, she said.
But Bachmann went on stage and delivered a five minute speech on freedom. Then she sat down. “I’m sitting there, and I had to be neutral,” former Minnesota state GOP chairman Ron Eibensteiner told me in 2009. “But I’m thinking to myself, boy, would I love to have her run.” Laidig gave a speech, and the convention took a vote. Bachmann won a supermajority on the first ballot.
Shocked, Laidig decided to challenge her in a primary. Bachmann won handily. It was no mystery why. “She tells it like it is,” Minnesota GOP state chair Tony Sutton told me two years ago. “She doesn’t pull any punches. That’s why she has such a strong following.”
And I think this snapshot of Michele shows why we like her:
Whereas Palin makes emotional and cultural appeals to her supporters, Bachmann formulates an argument. She talks like a litigating attorney, and her speeches, op-eds, and interviews are littered with references to books and articles. Not all of her references are conservative. During our recent interview, Bachmann cited Lawrence Wright’s history of al Qaeda, The Looming Tower (“I love that book!”), to illustrate a point about the rise of radical Islam.
Just FYI, The Looming Tower is THE comprehensive assessment of Al Qaeda. We need a President who reads books like that, even if it is written by a liberal. She reads outside of the people who agree with her, so long as what they write is well-sourced and credible. And remember, Michele Bachmann reads re-known economist Ludwig Von Mises on the beach, when she’s on vacation! That’s pretty heavy reading.
You can take a look at the related posts below to learn more about Michele Bachmann.
Campaign speeches, interviews and debates
Reactions from her recent debate performance:
Profiles of Michele Bachmann:
Michele Bachmann on television news
Let Americans spend their own money
Time to prioritize spending
Obama’s plan is to raise your taxes
Michele Bachmann in the legislature
For economic growth:
Against ACORN funding:
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