Like most of the mainstream media complicit in propagating a superficial, sanitized image of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, CNN has taken the bait. In a recent article titled “CNN.com loves Michele Bachmann” (Nov. 11, 2009), Chris Steller of The Minnesota Independent reported:
For the second day in a row, CNN.com has posted an in-depth story on U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann. Yesterday’s installment, “Where is Michele Bachmann headed?” apparently earned reporter Rebecca Sinderbrand an audience with Bachmann herself. The fruits of that appeared at the top of the CNN.com main page today.
In a nutshell [according the the CNN report]:
In many ways, Michele Bachmann is the ideal political creature of the Tea Party era. Her path to power doesn’t lie in moving up the GOP leadership ladder, but in ignoring it entirely, drawing her power more from cable TV hits than committee assignments.
Excerpts from the first CNN report
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, leads a [anti-] health care rally at the U.S. Capitol on November 5, 2009. (Photo credit: CNN — Getty Images)
By Rebecca Sinderbrand
Nov. 10, 2009
Washington (CNN) — Much like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s name has become a kind of cultural shorthand — a conservative rallying cry and a Jon Stewart punch line. …
Tina Fey’s unforgettable “Saturday Night Live” impersonations of 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Palin featured exact quotes or close paraphrases. And a recently launched line of Bachmann-inspired comic books [link added] features the congresswoman’s own words as well.
Bachmann occupies an increasingly familiar political niche: the tough-talking, unapologetic conservative woman [link added]. The similarities with Palin go beyond a fiery brand of working-class cultural conservatism delivered in a homey twang. Each cut their teeth in culture war fights at the state level [link added] and has experienced a relatively recent meteoric ascent to the national stage. …
When the Oral Roberts University-educated Bachmann described herself as a “fool for Christ” [link added], she was using a familiar turn of phrase that identified her with a certain strain of evangelical thought, one that views Christians as a perpetually embattled minority adrift in a hostile culture.
And both, emerging in the era of an embattled GOP, would rather see the party pure than victorious [link added]. Bachmann and Palin refused to endorse their party-picked candidate in last week’s special congressional race in New York, choosing instead to back the Conservative Party candidate. …
Many lawmakers have adopted some of these [social networking] tools. Few have taken the comprehensive, across-the-board approach that Bachmann has — and few can boast her level of support in the conservative blogosphere.
But where Palin has mostly limited herself to an electronic presence in advance of her book release this month, Bachmann has supplemented her Web efforts with stops at dozens of key conservative gatherings, including high-profile events such as the annual Conservative Political Action Conference [link added] and the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit [link added].
The overall scope of the outreach effort is unusual for a second-term member and has sparked speculation that Bachmann could be laying the foundation for higher office [link added].
She’s played up her rising star status, calling herself House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s top target and accusing Democrats of trying to “sabotage” her [link added] and Palin because “they want to make sure no women, no woman becomes president before a Democrat woman, and so they’re doing everything they can to … make sure that we don’t have a prominent national voice.”
Bachmann’s take-no-prisoners approach has made her a national target for opponents.
This spring, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a Web site devoted to tracking her every headline-grabbing statement [link added]. …
Before she considers setting her sights higher, Bachmann will have to deal with challenges closer to home.
Minnesota’s 6th congressional district is conservative — it voted for John McCain over Barack Obama for the presidency by 8 points — but Bachmann won her race last year by just 3 percentage points after one of her controversial statements put her seat at risk in the homestretch.
A year ago, as the campaign season wound down, the congresswoman went on MSNBC’s “Hardball” and called on reporters [link added] to find out which members of Congress were “anti-America.” …
This summer, the National Republican Congressional Committee added Bachmann to its Patriot Program list of vulnerable incumbents [link added] who receive special assistance from the party. …
Bachmann … ended the quarter with no primary opponent [not really true] and just under $617,000 cash on hand. …
Mainstream media joins speculation over Bachmann’s ambitions
(Chris Steller, The Minnesota Independent, Nov. 10, 2009)
Rep. Michele Bachmann spoke during the Republican National Convention in 2008. (Photo credit: CNN / Getty Images)
By Rebecca Sinderbrand
Nov. 11, 2009
Washington (CNN) — The thousands of restive conservative protesters milling outside the west front of the Capitol last week definitely didn’t seem in the mood to listen — but there was at least one voice they wanted to hear.
The chant started from the back of the crowd, and rolled forward like a wave: “We want Michele! We want Michele!”
Michele Bachmann doesn’t say she finds GOP leadership irrelevant. But with health care reform gathering momentum as the Democratic bill entered final debate in the House, she took her typical route around, not through them [link added].
The swarms of Tea Partiers who descended on Washington on her week-old call didn’t come to see John Boehner and Eric Cantor. The top Republican leaders in Congress were guests at Michele Bachmann’s party.
“When we came down to this final hour, as the clock is ticking 11:59 on this health care reform, Speaker Pelosi is posed with her health care bill to take over 18 percent of the American economy,” the Minnesota congresswoman said Thursday, drawing an angry roar from the audience set to swarm Democratic congressional offices on her instructions. Bachmann grinned. “Oh come on, don’t hold back,” she said. “Tell them how you really feel!”
In many ways, Michele Bachmann is the ideal political creature of the Tea Party era. Her path to power doesn’t lie in moving up the GOP leadership ladder, but in ignoring it entirely, drawing her power more from cable TV hits than committee assignments [link added].
And that power is growing: A University of Minnesota study released in August found she had already doubled her media appearances from the previous year. In 2008, when she was running for re-election, Bachmann hit the airwaves every 16.6 days, Minnesota researchers said. In 2009, that frequency had nearly doubled, to once every 9.1 days.
Nearly all of those appearances made news, featuring a supremely confident and combative Bachmann [link added].
“If you look at FDR, LBJ, and Barack Obama, this is really the final leap to socialism,” she said in March on CNN contributor Bill Bennett’s national radio show. “The Democrats are about to institutionalize cartels — that’s what they’re very good at — they’re trying to consolidate power, so we need to do everything we can to thwart them [link added] at every turn to make sure that they aren’t able to, for all time, secure a power base that for all time can never be defeated.”
One summer pledge to battle health care reform generated even more media heat and liberal outrage. “What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing” [link added], she told Colorado conservatives in August. “This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t pass.”
Since Bachmann’s arrival in Washington in 2007, she’s grabbed attention not so much for what she’s accomplished as for what she has said. Her statements are sometimes debatable, occasionally incendiary [link added], always quotable. In October, she told conservative bloggers at the Heritage Foundation that she refused to “cower in fear,” and worry about media chatter. “They’re irrelevant,” she said of mainstream journalists. “And I don’t play by their rules.”
Her target audience, and core constituency, is the outraged conservative voter who feels powerless in the Obama era. And they’re listening.
“You’ve gone to the town hall meetings and been at the tea party rallies, only to be ignored by the Left,” the congresswoman wrote in a fundraising message [link added] this fall. “Well, I’ve heard you loud and clear and you’re saying: ‘Enough is enough!’ ”
Her polarizing voice sounds like money — to members of both political parties.
“Polarizing people are double-edged swords, and I think that on balance … she’s hurting the Republican Party,” says veteran Democratic consultant Jennifer Palmieri.
Even Republicans concede Bachmann, 53, is playing a high-stakes game.
“If you’re going to play that kind of role as a passionate person who, who goes out there and really says stuff, you better have pretty good instincts,” says Tony Blankley, one-time press secretary to former House speaker Newt Gingrich. “Because if you have bad instincts, you’re going to pay a price. …
Name a controversial conservative cause of the Obama era, and she’s been an icon to devotees: She’s a core member of a group of Republican lawmakers who continue to push for government investigations into alleged Democratic ties to controversial community group ACORN [link added].
She’s been a hero to “10thers,” who believe the 10th Amendment of the Constitution rules out a major government role in health care reform; “Birthers,” who question whether President Obama was born in the United States (though Bachmann — who helped block a resolution affirming Hawaii as the president’s birthplace — recently told CNN’s Larry King she has “no reason to doubt” he was born there); and “Deathers,” who claim government cost-cutting under President Obama’s health care plan would prevent older Americans from receiving necessary medical care.
While other Republican lawmakers have publicly struggled with the role of conservative voices like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck — offering mild criticism and backing away from their comments [link added], serving up vague praise with conditional disclaimers — Bachmann has embraced them wholeheartedly.
In Michele Bachmann’s GOP, as in theirs, there is never cause for retreat, and no room for second-guessing.
“And thank God for Joe Wilson. Thank God for Joe Wilson,” Bachmann, praising the South Carolina congressman’s “huge heart,” told a Tea Party gathering [link added] in her home state shortly after his “You lie!” outburst to Obama on the House floor. …
CNN.com loves Michele Bachmann
(Chris Steller, The Minnesota Independent, Nov. 11, 2009)
Related report on this site
Michele Bachmann Up-Close (Sept. 6, 2010)
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — November 18, 2008
One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that Iran praised the Iraqi Cabinet for approving a U.S-Iraq status-of-forces agreement and that Michael Hanna, an analyst at the Century Foundation in New York, said a continuing but finite presence of U.S. troops in Iraq could benefit Iran because it provides “retaliatory options” as Tehran pursues a nuclear program opposed by the West.
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