Matt Dowd on Tea Party and Bachmann
I thought Matt Dowd's recent column on Michelle Bachmann's SOTU response was insightful. Key paragraphs:
As I watched Rep. Michele Bachmann's "nonofficial" response to President Obama's State of the Union address and the flurry of criticism that followed, I was reminded of the recent book The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom. The gist is that organizations that are decentralized, fluid, and non-hierarchical, and that operate organically with many tentacles (like a starfish) can have great success at times in history. A starfish can lose one tentacle and grow a new one, and even the severed tentacle can grow an entire new body.
She has begun to label herself as a tea party leader (if not the leader), and last week she gave what she billed as the tea party response to the president's State of the Union. Attractive, well-spoken at times, disciplined, hardworking, and a true believer, Bachmann has nonetheless frequently come across as not ready for prime time or, how shall I say it, bizarre. Her recent showing did nothing to dispel that narrative, and her attempt to become a credible spokeswoman suffered because of it.
More important, though, the tea party took a hit. As the movement begins to operate as a spider organization with a very visible leader (losing its starfish advantages), it risks being directly opposed and damaged. Although Bachmann got tons of publicity, she did the tea party no favors by trying to assume its leadership.
Dowd ends his column by commenting that wins the 2012 Republican nod will probably be the most "starfish" organization, with de-centralized power. I hope he decides to write his next column delineating why he thinks that, because I don't think anyone would call Obama 08 or Bush 04 as de-centralized.
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