Political Animal


June 27, 2011 2:55 PM Bachmann looks to emulate serial killer

By Steve Benen

Rep. Michele Bachmann, the unhinged Republican presidential candidate, desperately wants the public to believe she’s a “serious person,” and not at all a “flake.” She could start by avoiding mistakes like these.

Rep. Michele Bachmann kicked off her presidential campaign on Monday in Waterloo, Iowa, and in one interview surrounding the official event she promised to mimic the spirit of Waterloo’s own John Wayne.

The only problem, as one eagle-eyed reader notes: Waterloo’s John Wayne was not the beloved movie star, but rather John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer.

Yep, here’s the video.

The right-wing congresswoman told Fox News, “[W]hat I want them to know is, just like John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.”

John Wayne is from Iowa, but not Waterloo. Bachmann is apparently confusing John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy. The former was a movie star; the latter killed 33 people.

In September 2009, railing against health care reform, Bachmann told Republican activists, “What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists,” because “something is way crazy out there.”

If Bachmann has “the spirit” of a serial killer, that quote seems to make more sense than it did at the time.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


  • Karl on June 27, 2011 2:58 PM:

    Does this woman not have any advisors? Jeebus, what a macaroon.

  • puravida on June 27, 2011 3:06 PM:

    Well, she is clownish, isn't she?

  • Danp on June 27, 2011 3:11 PM:

    Maybe Chris Wallace pushed her over the edge.

  • stevio on June 27, 2011 3:13 PM:

    Either way, each of those bozos from Iowa were creeps. One, Gacy, a mass murderer, the other was a pompous movie star who made a living portraying an Indian killer, and in real life was a world class bigot. Hmmmmm...I guess that's whose she playing too anyway...

    What a throughly nauseating clown.

  • bkny on June 27, 2011 3:14 PM:

    jesus h christ. every friggin iowan knows where john wayne was born (at least those of us of a certain age). it was winterset, iowa. and easily researched if you know how to use the google machine. unfrigginbelievable.


  • ant on June 27, 2011 3:15 PM:


    you having fun with this one steve?

    (obligatory) captcha sucks

  • RubiconAZ on June 27, 2011 3:15 PM:

    That would make her a corn flake. You know, as in the serial...Oh, never mind.

  • zeitgeist on June 27, 2011 3:17 PM:

    from this performance, it appears she may have gotten her Waterloos confused, too.

  • davidp on June 27, 2011 3:18 PM:

    Yes, this is an amusing slip, but it's unlikely to do Bachmann any real harm with her fan base. By now she's surely an expert in the tactic of turning criticism of such things back against the elite media and "Gotcha" journalism. To do her significant harm, something worse will have to happen. With Sarah Palin, it was the Giffords shooting and her appalling response to it. Those may well mark the moment when everything went sour for her. Bachmann has yet to serve up anything comparable.

  • FridayNext on June 27, 2011 3:19 PM:

    Isn't she the one that also confused Concord, MA with Concord, NH?

    She really knows how to win over the locals, doesn't she?

  • bkny on June 27, 2011 3:19 PM:

    man, that's some mad skillz ed rollins is providing bachmann's campaign.

  • nescio on June 27, 2011 3:30 PM:

    The most embarassing thing for Bachmann is probably that John Wayne Gacy was a Democrat, not a serial killer.

  • Danp on June 27, 2011 3:30 PM:

    Davidp may be right. This won't affect her fan base, but even if you overlook which John Wayne was Waterloo's own, the one she was referring to was an actor. How much spirit does that take? Are these people truly that confused about what is real? Bachmann must be very grateful for a Chicago jury today.

    Also, it's not quite as bad as confusing Iran and Iraq as Pawlenty did a couple weeks ago.

  • T2 on June 27, 2011 3:31 PM:

    Chris Wallace has apparently done the impossible: Turned FOX into a lamestream liberal mouthpiece.
    Judging from the flip-out the TeaParty is doing about his "are you a flake" comment, they really seem to like her and it would appear that there is a growing Palin'esque fan club for Bachmann. The result will be that any criticism of the crazed one will be met with wiithering accusations that the Media is being "mean, sexist, commie, socialist, etc.etc.etc" What this means in the short run is that any/all of the current GOP pres contenders will have to treat her with kid gloves, lest they offend the TeaPartyNuts.
    In other words, she'll get a free ride just like Palin does/did.

  • J L on June 27, 2011 3:38 PM:

    Well, I would say she needs to take another stab at it, but...

  • Athena on June 27, 2011 3:39 PM:

    @RubiconAZ - LOL! Great punage there.

    captcha: easicat genes. That's a poor excuse...

  • majun on June 27, 2011 3:39 PM:

    Well -- Obama once claimed there are 57 states!!! So there!!

  • Daniel Kim on June 27, 2011 3:45 PM:

    Actually, she may have meant Gacy, seeing as Ayn Rand was such a fan of serial rapist/killer William Edward Hickman.

  • Ron Byers on June 27, 2011 3:49 PM:

    She is killing the souls of history teachers everywhere. Maybe her comment is not a gaff and she really is showing the same kind of spirit as the John Wayne from Waterloo.

    I am going to have to go on a diet. This much popcorn can't be healthy.

  • xando foote on June 27, 2011 3:50 PM:

    The story fails to mention that during the Iowa event Rep. Bachmann used without authorization Tom Petty's "American Girl" much as George W. Bush did during the 2000 campaign when he played "I Won't Back Down" until Petty ordered him to stop.

    Rep. Bachmann missed a golden opportunity to use another Petty song, "Into the Great Wide Open" which contains the hilariously appropriate following lyrics:

    "Into the great wide open,
    Under them skies of blue;
    Out in the great wide open,
    A rebel without a clue."

  • martin on June 27, 2011 3:52 PM:

    According to the story Bachmann grew up in Waterloo, Jeez, does everyone her age there think Marion Michael Morrison was born there?

    Of course, now that she says she want to emulate a child molester/serial killer, maybe she should be on the sex offenders list and not be allowed near babies and children.

  • emmie on June 27, 2011 3:53 PM:

    Even if she messed up the John Waynes, if she truly thinks she has the actor JW's characteristics, she might want to keep that quiet. Wayne was a racist pig---he made several racist comments about blacks and Native Americans. He was a complete jerk. That's who she emulates?

  • c u n d gulag on June 27, 2011 4:14 PM:


    'Nuff Said...

  • rob on June 27, 2011 4:31 PM:

    “What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists,” because “something is way crazy out there.”

    Some thing IS definitely "way crazy". Is it this clearly deranged woman, the talking heads who say she is a 'serious candidate' or a significant part of the whole GD country? Why choose? They all qualify.

  • lkt on June 27, 2011 4:39 PM:

    Yes, Bachmann is stark raving mad, but is she saying that instead of mimicking a serial killer, she wants to mimic a white supremacist? From John Wayne's 1971 Playboy interview:

    Wayne: I believe in white supremecy until blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.

    Lewis: Are you equiped to judge which blacks are irresponsible and which of their leaders are inexperienced?

    Wayne: The academic community has developed certain tests that determine whether the blacks are sufficiently equipped scholastically...I don't feel guilty about the fact that five or ten generations ago these people were slaves....I wish they'd tell me where in the world they have it better than right here in America.

  • Steve B on June 27, 2011 4:47 PM:

    What about Obama's 57 US states? Everyone mispeaks or gets things wrong at times. Why only lambast one party for it? They both do it!

  • Danp on June 27, 2011 5:18 PM:

    Steve B: Everyone mispeaks or gets things wrong at times

    Bad example - Obama was referring to 57 primaries and caucuses. Bad choice of words, but he wasn't invoking the spirit of a freaking actor, and he wasn't claiming that the wrong person was connected to the community he was speaking to. Bachmann's gaffe isn't a deal breaker, but it is part of a pattern with her.

  • Hieronymus The Troll Braintree on June 27, 2011 5:19 PM:

    John Wayne Gacy was also a hospital clown who would "entertain" children who were too sick to get away. And he did murder homosexuals. So, you see, Michelle was actually sorta right!

    You people sure are picky.

  • Rochester on June 27, 2011 5:26 PM:

    Look out, Wikipedia!

    My guess is that John Wayne's home town is about to get a little history re-write.

  • exlibra on June 27, 2011 5:33 PM:

    In the spirit of "Waterloo's own", the great John Wayne Gacy, some heads in Bachmann's campaign are gonna roll (after their owners had been raped and tortured).

    She and Palin should team up together and write The New! Improved! History of the United States of White America.

    Peculiarly though, what riles me most about Bachmann is not that she's madder than a hatter (and with less reason, unless she used to inhale DDT as a child) and still has a chance to be a Republican nominee for President. No. What gets my blood up to a boiling point is that she has *home schooled* all her 5 kids and, probably, the two dozen or so that she had fostered (at taxpayers' expense). In all probability, she has passed on to them all the same wobbly knowledge (of history and everything else) combined with a rock-steady belief of being right. That's what's really dangerous about the dingbat.

    "out iosectu". Out! out! dread insect!

  • bobopapal on June 27, 2011 5:47 PM:

    Big Stevo - That America has sunk to the level of considering Michelle Bachman as a legit candidate for president and you as a star internet pundit is equally sad and depressing. You really deserve one another. Where would you be without crazies like her and where would she be without fools like you?

  • emjayay on June 27, 2011 7:05 PM:

    She began her official I'm gonna run speech by saying she was running for "President." I guess she will be running against the nominee of the Democrat party.