We've come to know Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) as a curious sort, politically speaking, but her latest move -- touting her vote against raising the debt ceiling in her latest campaign ad -- strikes as odd, if not uncomfortable.
Running the ad in Iowa, Bachmann promotes the fact that she voted against a compromise bill in the House this week and the "Cut, Cap, and Balance" bill that sought to reduce federal spending the previous week.
Arguing to voters that she's a plausible U.S. presidential candidate because she voted against raising the debt ceiling seems odd, considering the horrible spot America would be in today had she gotten her way with just say no.
The political gridlock leading up to the eventual compromise in Washington was near disastrous. But had political leaders not found a way in the final hours before an Aug. 2 deadline to reach agreement in majority to raise the debt ceiling, America would have been left in a financial mess. Financial markets were already trembling at the thought, and the world's largest economy in default would not have been a pretty sight.
Yet Bachmann argues in the Iowa campaign ad she did the right thing.
"Someone needs to say, 'no,'" Bachmann says in the ad, taped in Ames, site of the closely-watched Iowa Straw Poll. "I voted against raising the debt limit because it's time to balance the budget and pay down the debt. I mean it, and you can believe it."
Bachmann is certainly right about the larger point. It is time to balance the budget and pay down the debt. But it's hard not to be leery of candidates like Bachmann who use such curious positioning as voting against a necessary measure once it's clear the needed votes are there to get it done.
The Tea party favorite maintained all along in the debt ceiling debate that there was no need to raise it. But the reality is that America already had commitments above and beyond the previous debt ceiling limit of $14.3 trillion. To keep social security checks flowing, and to keep domestic and global markets from roiling in panicked revolt there was simply no choice.
So while she's right that America must balance the budget and pay down debt, the issue is really a separate one from the pressing need to raise the debt ceiling limit.
It's clear why she is promoting her vote against the measure. Publicly, such talk is popular because most Americans rightly do not approve of the enormous federal deficit. They want a balanced budget. That's one thing we've learned in the past year. The Tea party found core strength from the case in mid-term elections last year.
Bachmann may very well gain strength from touting how she voted against the debt ceiling. But Americans should be thankful more in Congress did subscribe to her way of thinking, and voting.
If others had not voted in majority to raise the debt ceiling, it's doubtful Bachmann would be touting her no vote in Iowa this week, since America would likely be in a very bad spot as a result.