On Saturday, March 20, Republican delegates at Minnesota’s Sixth District GOP convention in St. Cloud voted unanimously to return U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann to Congress for a third term.
History will marvel that any American political party could set the bar so low as to give Bachmann its unanimous approval.
In that spirit, I’m reprinting Talking Points Memo’s 2009 year-end review photo feature of Bachmann’s year in politics, with added content by way of sidebars.
Michele Bachmann in 2009
It’s been a big year for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). Although only a second-term Congresswoman in the minority party, she’s emerged as a leader of the Tea Party-style right in Congress. Others in the GOP may court the Tea Parties, but Bachmann truly lives it. As she said early this year: “And so we need to once again decide, do we want to be free, or do we want to be slaves? We have to make that decision. And I know I’ve made my choice, you’ve made your choice. And we have to act in concert if we want to make sure that we can hold on to what we have.”
Sidebar: Bachmann Heads Teabaggers
Bachmann’s specialty has been the open use of revolutionary rhetoric, against Democratic tyranny on a whole range of issues. “I’m a foreign correspondent on enemy lines and I try to let everyone back here in Minnesota know exactly the nefarious activities that are taking place in Washington,” she said in March. She also said she wanted her constituents “armed and dangerous” against the cap-and-trade bill, and added: “Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing. And the people – we the people – are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.”
Sidebar: Bachmann Call for Armed Revolt?
Bachmann then stepped up the rhetoric, going on Sean Hannity’s radio show and accusing President Obama of “economic Marxism.” She called for drastic action: “At this point the American people – it’s like Thomas Jefferson said, a revolution every now and then is a good thing. We are at the point, Sean, of revolution. And by that, what I mean, an orderly revolution — where the people of this country wake up get up and make a decision that this is not going to happen on their watch. It won’t be our children and grandchildren that are in debt. It is we who are in debt, we who will be bankrupting this country, inside of ten years, if we don’t get a grip. And we can’t let the Democrats achieve their ends any longer.”
Sidebar: Bachmann Says ‘I’m Not a Kook’
Photo by Jeff Malet / maletphoto.com
Bachmann has also shown her affinity for history — though it’s not the history of this planet. In April, she took to the House floor and paid tribute to the Coolidge economic policies of the 1920s, falsely claiming that they’d repaired an economy even worse than what Franklin Roosevelt had to deal with. Bachmann said: “FDR applied just the opposite formula — the Hoot-Smalley Act — which was a tremendous burden on tariff restrictions, and 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.” In fact, the Smoot-Hawley Act was a Republican protectionist bill signed into law by GOP President Herbert Hoover.
Sidebar: Bachmann ‘Wingnut of the Week’
Bachmann’s detractors have taken to addressing her comical nature in an interesting form — a comic book, an experiment in non-fiction absurdism. The first issue accurately quoted Bachmann’s call for revolution, her background in the religious right and her rise to prominence in Minnesota politics, and depicted a compliant mainstream media that didn’t alert the public. The second issue was a bit wanting, but it did capture the bottom-line fact that a conspiracy theorist has not only become a member of Congress, but is a national hero of her party base.
Sidebar: Bachmann ‘False Witness’ Released
Bachmann has also opposed the federal census, and declared that she won’t fully fill out her form beyond the number of people in her home (note: this is illegal). She’s objected to the government using the long-form American Community Survey, which is sent to a small percentage of respondents, to find out about people’s history of mental stability or illness. And she’s also warned of a connection between the census and the 1940′s Japanese internment camps: “I’m not saying that that’s what the Administration is planning to do, but I am saying that private personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up, in a violation of their constitutional rights, and put the Japanese in internment camps.”
Sidebar: Bachmann’s Census Paranoia
Newscom/Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT
Bachmann really came into her own, as a true leading figure of the House GOP, when she organized the Capitol Tea Party, urging conservative activists to converge on the House office buildings and personally lobby members of Congress. She dubbed it “The Super Bowl of Freedom,” and the event was ultimately attended by the whole House GOP leadership and many, many members of the caucus. At the event, she again quoted Jefferson: “You came. And you came to your house. And you came for an emergency house call,” said Bachmann. “And are they going to listen? Oh yeah, oh yeah, they’re going to listen. It was Thomas Jefferson who said a revolution every now and then is a good thing. What do you think?”
Sidebar: Bachmann Stunt Back to Roots
Newscom/Richard B. Levine
Bachmann’s commitment to the Tea Party movement showed only a slight weakness, when she was called out by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) for the posters at the rally that used imagery from the Holocaust, likening it to the Democratic health plans. “I can’t believe that Congresswoman Bachmann would stand where she stood, and see those images, and not have the common decency to say, ‘I disagree with the use of those images,’” Israel said in a YouTube message. Bachmann then distanced herself: “Sadly, some individuals chose to marginalize tragic events in human history, such as the Holocaust, by invoking imagery and labels which have no purpose in a policy debate about health care.”
Sidebar: Bachmann Rebuked for Nazi Image
Throughout it all, Bachmann has maintained a certain aw-shucks demeanor about the controversy surrounding her. “I haven’t purposely been trying to be inflammatory,” she said earlier this year. (Just imagine if she were trying to be inflammatory!) She’s also spoken of her childhood upbringing as a Democrat, and how she danced at Vice President Walter Mondale’s inaugural ball: “We really believed in them when we were in college. So in some ways I don’t understand why the Democratic Party would be opposed to me, because I stand for the same values that my parents stood for when we were Democrats.”
Sidebar: Michele Bachmann ‘Lies in Christ’
Bachmann ended the year as Tea Party Queen with another unique moment. At a Capitol Hill rally to oppose the Senate health care bill, she rallied the faithful with a triumphant declaration: “It’s the Charge of the Light Brigade!” Of course, the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade was a disastrous battle in which the heroic Light Brigade, due to miscommunicated orders, charged right into enemy fire and sustained heavy casualties, and have since been celebrated for their bravery and mourned for the pointlessness of their deaths. But who knows — maybe the battle went differently in Bachmann’s universe?
Sidebar: Bachmann’s March of Folly
Michele Bachmann, this is why the Dems oppose you
… and rational Republicans, too.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — March 22, 2009
Ramzi Haidar / AFP — Getty Images
One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that according to NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, the Iraq war was in a sixth phase — “America’s exit strategy” — the first five phases having been “shock and awe” (March-April 2003), “nation-building” (2003-2004), “insurgency” (2004-2005), “civil war” (2006-2007), and “the surge” (2007-2008).
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