Burke’s Law II: Michele’s Mighty Mouth

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elizabethburkeheadshot1I am not sure what is going on in Minnesota lately but there is obviously something in the water up there. The endless and costly court battle Norm Coleman is waging against Al Franken has left the state one senator short at a time when all states need all the help in Congress they can get. More than that, the real Minnesota tragedy is the ongoing verbal diarrhea of Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann.

To give you an idea of what is behind her teased-out hair and Katherine Harris makeup techniques, here are just a few recent quotes (courtesy of Washington Monthly):

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  • ACORN, Bachmann said, is “under federal indictment for voter fraud,” but the stimulus bill nevertheless gives ACORN $5 billion. (Reality check #1: ACORN is notunder federal indictment and isn’t mentioned in the stimulus bill. Did Bachmann actually read the bill?)
  • Many members of Congress, she asserted, have “a real aversion to capitalism.”
  • The stimulus bill, she warned, includes a measure to create a “rationing board” for health care, and, after the bill becomes law, “your doctor will no longer be able to make your health care decisions with you.” (Reality check #2: Nowhere in the stimulus bill is this written.)
  • The recovery package, she declared, is part of a Democratic Party conspiracy to “direct” funding away from Republican districts so Democratic districts can “suck up” all federal funds. Bachmann doesn’t think this will work because “We’re running out of rich people in this country.”
  • President Obama — whom Bachmann derisively calls the “Community Organizer-in-Chief” — is orchestrating a Census Bureau conspiracy that will allow him to redraw congressional lines to keep Democrats in power for up to “40 years.” (Reality check #3: When it was explained to Bachmann that the president has nothing to do with redistricting — Congressional districts are drawn at the state level — she maintained that Obama’s nonexistent plan is an “anti-constitutional move.”)

With so much material (there is more, but I only have so much space!), I was originally going to write a humorous piece on the odd, incomprehensible burblings of this political reactionary from the land with thousands of famous lakes. But recently, Motormouth Bachmann has turned into a dangerous voice. In my view, she has been doing everything in her power to incite, inflame and frighten the most angry and disenfranchised fringe elements of the conservative movement. Her rhetoric, with an edge that almost seems violent, would appear to know no bounds. Bachmann has decided that truth and facts have little place in civil discourse, that the only way to be heard is to make up the most outrageous and bizarre distortions of the policies of the emerging Obama Administration.

I can’t resist another quote, just to further illustrate, courtesy of the Minnesota political blog Smart Politics:

“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.” Enemy lines? That’s war!

Apparently, Bachmann equates being a Republican during the time of an Democratic Administration as tantamount to being from another country or, indeed, being at war. Um, does that make her an illegal alien? By her own standards on the question of immigration — forgive me, I’ll omit the quote — shouldn’t she have herself deported?

Bachmann also ramped up the war rhetoric during an interview last month WWTC 1280 AM on the issue of Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade energy tax. Here’s how she expanded on and extended her war metaphor (courtesy of the Huffington Post):

“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. 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. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.”

I don’t know about you, but to me inciting “armed and dangerous” mobs in a country in which gun sales have jumped about 30% since November 4 (or so the firearms industry says) is the height of hubris. Most of these buyers, by the way, believe Obama will crack down on their Second Amendment right to bear arms in general and specifically their right to bear an AR-15 Assault Rifle — you know, the gun of choice for blowing away deers or the poor fellow that mistakenly knocks on your door at 2 a.m. in need of help. As an elected official, Bachmann’s words are irresponsible at the very least and criminal at the very worst. She does not seem to be aware that words have meaning and that her listeners are now thinking to themselves “Should I become armed and very, very dangerous?”

I wonder if Bachmann had any feeling of shame or regret when she read — that is, if she read — about the Pittsburgh cops that were killed back on April 4 when a man wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire on them during a domestic disturbance call. Friends say the gunman had been upset about losing his job and feared the Obama Administration was going to ban guns. This is exactly what Bachmann is suggesting the American people do when she shouts for us all to become a nation of trigger-happy, paranoid shooters. Thanks, I feel safer already.

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And during a January 14 interview with Fox News’ sob-aholic Glenn Beck, she again stated her super-patriotism in a time of war (courtesy of said sob-aholic’s website):

“I would say there are probably 30 keepers of the flame over here, and I fully believe you don’t need to even have a majority but you need to have a critical mass. I don’t know if we’re quite a critical mass, but if you have enough like minded people, the main thing we can do right now is be foreign correspondents reporting to you from enemy lines.”

But perhaps Bachmann’s most embarrassing recent rant was directed at the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which would expand the all-volunteer national community service programs from 75,000 to 250,000 positions. Appearing on KTLK-AM, a radio station in Minnesota, Bachmann expressed concern that the White House was trying to put in place “re-education camps.” You decide if she’s clinically insane (courtesy of the Minnesota Independent):

“It’s under the guise of-quote-volunteerism. But it’s not volunteers at all. It’s paying people to do work on behalf of government. I believe that there is a very strong chance that we will see that young people will be put into mandatory service. And the real concern is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go to work in some of these politically correct forums.”

So I called Bachmann’s office in Woodbury, Minn., and I decided to ask the male staffer what she meant by this. He told me that Bachmann was concerned with “forced service.” I asked if by that she meant that the government would come into my home, point a gun at my head, and force me to work on its behalf. He said, “Yes, that is exactly what will happen.” Wow. Well, at least we know Bachmann’s staff is trained to make a point without a basis in truth or reality. I guess this is all to position her as the Tough Protector of America.

I also read an interview Bachmann gave to the well-known conservative Bill Bennett (courtesy of ThinkProgress.org):

“If you look at FDR, LBJ, and Barack Obama,” she said, “this is really the final leap to socialism. But we all know that we could turn this around and we can turn this around fairly quickly. We’re still a free country.” Then she added: “And as 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 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.”

So let’s take stock of Bachmann. Socialism, re-education camps, “armed and dangerous,” the long-running Democratic conspiracy to be Supreme Cartel Leaders, fear mongering, subjugating the U.S. dollar for some vague global currency — these are some of the loaded terms she uses, over and over. She believes she represents a threatened America, a flag-waving, parade-loving, apple-pie America. I believe treason wrapped in the American flag is still treason.

Let me add that I am the first person to say “bring on the crazy.” I love watching a good train wreck like everyone else, and Rep. Bachmann obviously has a constitutional right to shout her brand of Minnesota loony from the highest rooftops. That is one of the reasons why our national politics is so much fun, and why foreigners (real foreigners, not Bachmann-style foreigners) risk life and limb to get here. I am so grateful to have been lucky enough to be born here, to have the freedom millions can only dream of having. I can write what I want and say what I want without fear of retribution.

But with such freedom comes great responsibility, especially from elected figures with a rapt and — dare I say armed? — audience. I get the feeling that Bachmann has no idea the power of words, especially her own. I also don’t think she cares. While she blathers on to anyone with a tape recorder or camera, endlessly reiterating her “us against them” view of the nation, she had better hope and pray that her call for revolution is ignored, that her dream of a violent overthrow remains unfulfilled.

In fact, here’s an idea. If Bachmann is so concerned about the state of the nation, why not tone down her hyperbole and work with the Administration to make sure her constituents have jobs, can pay their mortgages and can get affordable health care while saving for their retirement? Oh right, those are Democratic goals, not Republican goals. Still, wouldn’t Bachmann’s district be better served by not feeding the people’s fears and anxieties and instead finding actual solutions to the job losses in her state and district? According to the Associated Press, Minnesota’s unemployment rate climbed to an astonishing 8.1% in March 2009. According to the Minnesota Post, Minnesota job losses in 2009 could climb to a staggering 50% over last year’s levels.

To keep her seat, shouldn’t Bachmann’s main job be to do everything possible to create jobs or at least plug the drain that is sucking Minnesota’s economy dry? I mean, anything else would be un-American, right?

Elizabeth Burke, a New York-based actor, has been involved in politics since her first campaign at age 16. Burke’s Law does not necessarily represent the view of The Clyde Fitch Report.