Saturday, May 2, 2009

Meet Michele...Bachmann

May 2, 2009

Do you know Michele? No, not FLOTUS Michelle Obama, I mean Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Republican from Minnesota . If politics confuse you, don’t neglect to look into Michele Bachmann’s story. I can’t say whether it’ll frighten or entertain you, but I’m almost sure, it’ll boggle your mind.

In the past, I’ve followed Bachmann’s exploits which are often featured on Keith Olberman’s Countdown and on the Rachael Maddow Show. I first became aware of her in the now notorious October 17 incident on Hardball. Bachmann told Chris Matthews she was “concerned” that Obama “may have anti-American views,” and linked him to a Who’s Who of leftist agitators. “I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out are they pro-America or anti-America?” Bachmann said. Within days of Bachmann’s notorious Hardball gaffe, a flood of donations poured into the coffers of her Democratic opponent who pulled even in the polls overnight. The cash-strapped National Republican Congressional Committee yanked its advertising from Bachmann’s district. The NRCC’s retreat infuriated the religious right, which has promoted Bachmann with as much intensity as any female politician in recent history, even Sarah Palin.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Christian right’s leading Beltway lobbying outfit, the Family Research Council, fired off an angry letter to then NRCC chairman Tom Cole, accusing him of “abandoning social conservative candidates and the issues for which they stand, particularly if they are championed by some of the most promising female legislators in the Congress.” Warren Smith, one of the evangelical right’s leading syndicated columnists, complained that the NRCC were “cowards” who abandoned the party’s brightest star to the ravages of the liberal media. A writer for the top-rated right-wing blog,, echoed Smith’s grievances. “Let’s just call Tom Cole…what he is,” blogger Erik Erickson wrote. “A douchebag.”

When answering the unprecedented storm of press inquiries Bachmann justified her behavior as an outgrowth of her religious convictions as she issued a mea culpa. “I may not always get my words right,” Bachmann pleaded in a campaign commercial “but I know my heart is right—because my heart is for you.” Although in a dead heat with her opponent, surprise of surprises, Bachmann snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

While Bachmann’s gaffes startle pundits, a review of her political career shows she has a habit of unusual behavior and inflammatory statements. The fact that she has gotten away with it owes to her relative obscurity and her protection from religious conservatives.

If you take a look at Bachmann’s history, as detailed by Max Blumenthal’s article “The Hate Monger of Minnesota”, her behavior should never have been a surprise. In 2004, Bachmann filed a police report claiming two vengeful lesbian constituents kidnapped her in a public restroom. As Bachmann’s recollections of the incident grew increasingly contradictory and hazy, the episode ballooned into a mini-scandal known in Minnesota political circles as “Bathroomgate.” The police never even investigated Bachmann’s compliant.

In 2006, with the congressional midterm elections approaching, Bachmann announced that God “called [her] to run for the United States Congress.” She easily vanquished a political neophyte who conducted a lackluster campaign that avoided homing in on Bachmann’s extensive history of gaffes. Arriving in Washington, Bachmann hired three full-time press secretaries to transform her into a national media star.
Yet the highly controversial statements continued. During a St. Cloud Times podcast in early 2007, Bachmann claimed exclusive knowledge of a secret Iranian plan to partition half of Iraq. After meeting Gov. Sarah Palin last summer in Alaska, Bachmann declared that “warmth” from a pipeline running through Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would make the area a “meeting ground and ‘coffee klatch’ for the caribou.” Just months later, during a House hearing on the mortgage foreclosure crisis engulfing her district, Bachmann read aloud from an editorial blaming “blacks and other minorities” for causing the epidemic.

In the more immediate past, she was complaining about President Obama’s economic policies and sought to make an analogy to the disastrous "Hoot-Smalley Tariff," which she says led FDR to turn the “recession into a depression.” Wrong again, Bachmann. In the first place, it was the Smoot-Hawley Act that raised tariffs to historic levels, not Hoot-Smalley Tariff, and it was, alas, signed by a Republican: Herbert Hoover, It passed a year into the Great Depression.

There’s Bachmann complaints about the totalitarian-style re-education camps that the Democrats have planned for America (by which she means the “Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act” for AmeriCorps). She complains that we are "running out of rich people in this country"; that her fellow representatives have "a real aversion to capitalism” and that following FDR and LBJ, Barack Obama represents “really the final leap to socialism.”

Eric Alterman, a professor of English and journalism at Brooklyn College and a professor of journalism at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism wrote a recent article in The Daily Beast on Rep. Michelle Bachmann, whom he calls Congress' mad bomber. Striking out again, Rep. Bachmann, says it’s ” interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter.” What exactly is “interesting” about this alleged coincidence? Even Bachmann won’t say.

Altman comments: “Michele Bachmann's newest bungle (wrongly pinning the last flu scare on a Democrat) shows disdain for both facts and logic. Actually, it’s not so interesting, it’s wrong. The truth is that while even Bachmann cannot figure out how to link these things, she might not as well bother trying because Gerald Ford was president during the last outbreak of the virus.” He concludes that “as amazingly idiotic as Bachmann’s swine-flu comments may be, they do not actually exceed her past levels of stupidity, malevolence and factual incorrectness.”

It makes me wonder. Does anyone in Republican Party—or the district in Minnesota that apparently elected her—know that this person sounds really Looney Tunes crazy? The answer must be no (but why not from the Party of NO). Her party’s leadership recently picked Bachmann—a global-warming denier—to be part of the GOP’s Energy Solutions Group. (Sample Bachmann quote: "The big thing we are working on now is the global-warming hoax. It’s all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.") Why do voters in the sixth district of Minnesota or members of the Republican Party want to be represented by a madwoman?

No comments:

Post a Comment