One thing’s for sure: With the retirement of Michele Bachmann, the intellectual level of discourse in the House of Representatives will go up.
Of course, the Minnesota Republican will be around until the end of 2014, so there is plenty of opportunity for future Bachmannisms. And her public role likely won’t end when she leaves the House. Bachmann, like many other right-wingers, has a promising future as a provocateur on Cable TV and the internet.
It’s always been hard to tell whether Bachmann is just plain dumb or whether, like provocateurs in the past, she will say anything just to get attention, regardless of the facts.
Her penchant for error and misleading innuendo continues. In an eight-minute, 40-second video announcing her decision not to run, Bachmann decried “this administration’s outrageous lack of action in Benghazi, Libya, and the subsequent coverup, which resulted in the deaths of four honorable, dedicated public servants.”
Note the construction of that sentence: It alleges a Benghazi coverup by President Obama and his aides, a favorite Republican whipping boy these days, though still unproven, and then implies that the “political coverup” led to the killings in Benghazi. Now, a coverup is what happens after an event, when the actors are unwilling to reveal their precise role in that event. A coverup is not the event itself, in this case the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi. That little fact does not prevent Bachmann from implying a connection between the alleged coverup and the deaths in Libya.
Bachmann has never pulled her punches when discussing Obama. Just before the 2008 election, she called into question the candidate’s devotion to “American” values. “Most Americans are wild about America,” Bachmann said, “and they are very concerned to have a president who doesn’t share those values.”
Apparently not too concerned, as Obama was elected president twice.
Bachmann frequently has demonstrated a blatant disregard for historical facts. Here is an excerpt from a speech she gave on the floor of the House on April 27, 2009: “The recession that FDR had to deal with wasn’t as bad as the recession Coolidge had to deal with in the early ’20s. Yet, the prescription that Coolidge put on that, from history, is lower taxes, lower regulatory burden, and we saw the roaring ’20s where we saw markets and growth in the economy like we never seen before in the history of the country. FDR applied just the opposite formula — the Hoot-Smalley Act, which was a tremendous burden on tariff restrictions, and then, of course, trade barriers and the regulatory burden and tax barriers. That’s what we saw happen under FDR. That took a recession and blew it into a full-scale depression. The American people suffered for almost 10 years under that kind of thinking.”
It’s not Hoot-Smalley, but rather the Smoot-Hawley Act, a high tariff bill that is universally condemned today. It was signed into law by President Herbert Hoover in 1930. FDR did not become president until January, 1933. By the way, Senator Reed Smoot, Representative Willis Hawley, and President Hoover were all Republicans. Bachmann overstates the depth of recession after World War I, and while the stock market boomed in the 1920s, there were structural problems in the economy that led to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Some of those problems included widespread poverty amid prosperity for some, a depressed farm economy, and serious slowdowns in the automobile industry and housing market by 1925.
Since Bachmann appears to be reading from a prepared script, it’s hard to account for these errors, unless her speechwriters are as ill-informed as she.
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, everyone is entitled to his or her opinions, but not his or her facts.
Bachmann badly bungled the history of the Founding Fathers and slavery, claiming the founders worked “tirelessly” to end slavery, which is not true, and claiming that John Quincy Adams “would not rest until slavery was extinguished,” which is true, except that John Quincy Adams was not a Founding Father. And Bachmann, one of the leading lights of the tea party, placed the start of the Revolutionary War in Concord, New Hampshire, instead of Concord, Massachusetts.
This is just a smattering of her errors, innuendos, and provocations. As I said above, they are not likely to end when Bachmann leaves public office.
Stay tuned for more Bachmannisms.