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Aug 8th, 2009

On May 3 this year I wrote:

The sheer weight and volume of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s assault on reason may have reached critical mass, crossing the tipping point beyond which Minnesota media could no longer tune out the insanity or avert their gaze from “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in embarrassed silence.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

I went on to report that the St. Cloud Times was the first newspaper in Minnesota to break its self-imposed code of silence regarding the bizarre behavior of 6th Congressional Distict Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in a stinging editorial on April 19, 2009, calling her an “extremist.”

Like a gathering torrent starting to trickle through a crack in the wall of a dam, the St. Cloud Times editorial was followed 10 days later by an equally cutting editorial in the April 29 issue of Willmar’s West Central Tribune and — finally, at long last – a sharp editorial rebuke on June 26 by Minnesota’s leading newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

In all of this, I’ve been remiss in according the St. Paul Pioneer Press the full measure of credit it deserves. Though not issuing from the pen of the Pioneer Press editorial board, columnist and editorial writer Jim Ragsdale’s March 4 opinion piece, with its dripping sarcasm and barbed humor may well have been what punctured the mainstream Minnesota media’s cone of silence. That landmark column is reproduced here in its entirety.

Note: Illustration not part of Pioneer Press column

The Empress of Exaggeration

Opinion by Jim Ragsdale
Editorial writer and columnist
Pioneer Press (St. Paul)
March 4, 2009

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann got 3,212 facts wrong in a recent interview. Do I exaggerate? Yes, I do. In fact, that statement was totally off-base. It is made to point out that Bachmann, our Republican congresswoman from Stillwater, is the empress of exaggeration.

She can turn a mote of dust into a flaming meteorite, a scintilla of evidence into a damning indictment, a stimulus bill into a payoff to felonious urban ruffians. I have heard her describe the faults of Minnesota graduation standards and vocational training in such a way that they appeared not just dumb, but damnation-worthy.

She once created a new Iranian sub-nation out of whole cloth, which some clever person dubbed Bachmannistan, and the last time I saw her in person, her attempt to find Democrats to blame for the foreclosure crisis led her to the obvious culprit: Jimmy Carter, who left office in 1981.

I was thinking of giving up my hobby of tracking Bachmannalia until I came across an interview on the stimulus bill that she gave shortly before the House passed it last month. She was speaking, as she does almost exclusively, to a media outlet that agrees with her, a talk-radio host on KTLK-FM, which bats and throws righty.

To be fair, in most of the cases I am citing, there is a mote of dust — sometimes a speck — floating in the air. But Bachmann’s genius is to transform that speck into a screaming missile about to wreck the Republic.

She was aiming her fire at a group known as ACORN, which is a really terrible acronym for an organization that works with poor people on housing and employment and such. They register voters in poor neighborhoods, have had some voter-registration scandals and are generally hated by the Repubs.

“You know how much they’re getting under this bill? Five billion dollars for ACORN.”

“Five billion!” emphasized the host, Chris Baker.

“Hey, this is the community organizer in chief, and he’s paying off his best friends.”

Before anyone can point out that there are zero dollars for ACORN in the stimulus bill — not any, nada, nyet, nothing, only grants that ACORN and a zillion other groups could apply for, and may never get — Bachmann was off, in that breathless way of hers, after the subversion of the ENTIRE POLITICAL SYSTEM!

I exaggerate — she didn’t say that. What she said was:

“There is a real aversion to capitalism by many people here in Congress. But it’s also about consolidating power in the Democrat Party at least for the next 20 years, if not the next 40. That’s why you see our commander-in-chief, in one of the most audacious moves in modern times, move the Census into the White House …

“Hey for a community-organizer-in-chief, that is the mother lode of all data. So that he can redraw all of the redistricting lines, so that Democrats can control, by a wide majority, every Congressional seat in the country!” (Exclamation point added by me.)

I would have, had I been present, tried to point out that yes, the White House talked about playing a greater role in overseeing the Census, in part due to concerns about undercounting in Hispanic areas, but that it would be dern near impossible for a president to redraw even a single district line, because that is done by state legislatures and governors and judges in each of the 50 states.

But there was no time.

We were on to … well, you know what we were on to, don’t you?

“Barack Obama inserted, and the liberal Democrats inserted, socialized medicine into this bill.” (The emphasis is mine, but she said it in an italicized way.) “So now we’ll have a national rationing board? And your doctor will no longer be able to make your health care decisions with you — now a rationing board will be making those decisions. This is breathtaking what they have done.”

Had she actually taken a breath, I or the host or a caller could have pointed out that there is no rationing board, at least none that I could find. There is a whole slug of money for “Comparative Effectiveness Research,” and a council to coordinate such work, which the bill describes as “research assessing the comparative effectiveness of health care treatments and strategies.”

But she didn’t. Take a breath, that is. We were on to higher political mathematics.

She said “this Democratic government” has already committed a sum “that would equal a check in the amount of $1,430 written to every man, woman and child in the world.” (Based on the 6.8 billion world population estimate of the tainted U.S. Census Bureau, that would be $9.7 trillion, or about a dozen stimulus bills.)

She said: “Under Obama, Big Evil is now anyone with a joint income of $100,000 or more.” “I truly believe that’s probably going to be lower, to anyone with a joint income of $65,000 or more, will be considered Big Evil, and taxed to the hilt.” Yet the stim-pack gave tax breaks to middle-income earners.

And “Big Evil?” Isn’t that the guy who jumped the Pacific Ocean on a motorcycle?

I exaggerate. And in that endeavor, I am out of my league. If exaggeration is the currency of politics, Rep. Bachmann spends like — well, like a Democrat. The facts are nothing to the elaborate structures she builds upon them. I say, admire the elaboration. It’s prettier than the real thing.

And whatever you do, buy stock in ACORN.


Listen to Michele Bachmann’s interview with Chris Baker on KTLK:

Related links on this site

Michele Bachmann Unmasked (July 20, 2009)

Bachmann: Minnesota Press Pushes Back (May 3, 2009)

The Princess of Pork (March 18, 2009)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago Today — August 8, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day 25

One year ago today, on the 25th day of my campaign against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I prepared for the August 9 kick-off of my walking tour from Freeport in the northwestern corner of the Sixth District to Stillwater in the southeast, on the Wisconsin border. Also, in an effort to help draw attention to the sacrifice of National Guard citizen soldiers serving in Iraq and the families they leave behind, I featured Part 6 of the Associated Press series, “The Longest Deployment” (the story of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota National Guard and its tour of duty in Iraq).

11 Responses to “The Empress of Exaggeration”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Bachmann’s March of Folly Says:

    […] The Empress of Exaggeration (Aug. 8, 2009) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Dems Link Pawlenty, Bachmann Says:

    […] Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the GOP’s most outspoken Republicans with a penchant for making extreme claims, toned down the rhetoric today during an annual gathering of conservative political activists in Washington, D.C. […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Bachmann Healthcare Paranoia Says:

    […] At a political forum in Rochester, Minn., U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, the “Empress of Exaggeration,” makes the wild claim that the president’s health reform proposals, beyond being “the crown jewel of socialism,” could lead to “gangster government” and “absolute abject corruption,” with people terrified to speak out against the government for fear of being blacklisted for denial of health care. […]

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    […] Drama queen Michele Bachmann, the Empress of Exaggeration, loves to play the victim. She always does it, predictably, and as regular as clockwork. […]

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