By Elizabeth Burke
Special to the Clyde Fitch Report
Michelle Bachmann is one of my favorite comediennes. Yes, I know she is the Republican member of Congress representing the sixth district of Minnesota. But have you ever heard her? She is hilarious and unafraid to say the most outrageous things just to get a laugh. With her regular-gal persona, carefully crafted conservative platform and sweet little yellow dresses, Bachmann has become the new darling of the Tea Party party.
Since assuming office on Jan. 3, 2007, Bachmann has leaped to the forefront of the group of spunky, telegenic brunettes to lead the Republican Women of Comedy tour along with her new BFF, Sarah Palin. Come on now, we all knew it wasn’t a matter of if, but when, these two dynamos would turn their star power on each other.
These two women are so similar, in fact, it makes one wonder if they were separated at birth. But while Palin got a free pass to the national stage when she was plucked from relative obscurity as Alaska’s governor to be John McCain’s running mate, Bachmann had to climb the ladder the old fashioned way: She made up an endearing story about how she came to be involved in politics. First, she danced at Jimmy Carter’s inaugural as a Democrat. Then she fell in love with movie star-turned-governor-turned-president Ronald Reagan and turned Republican. According to the faintly breathless, starry-eyed tale told by the venerable George Will, she was so disillusioned by her state senator who had stopped toeing the party-line that she (gasp!)
“…skipped washing her hair, put on jeans and a tattered sweatshirt and went to the local Republican nominating caucus to ask the incumbent a few pointed questions. There, on the spur of the moment, some similarly disgruntled conservatives suggested that she unseat him. After she made a five-minute speech ‘on freedom,’ the caucus emphatically endorsed her, and she handily won the subsequent primary.”
Who knew it was that easy? That five-minute speech had to be one of the greatest, most powerful speeches given in any lifetime. A five-minute speech on freedom, no less! How can you argue against that? So, after serving as a state senator for two terms in two different districts (your census at work!), Bachmann jumped into the big leagues. What took her six years to accomplish only took Palin six minutes of famously not blinking.
But unlike Palin, Bachmann has had to work to get her funny stuff on “lamestream” media outlets. She reached out to the hip-hop crowd by talking about “gangster government.” She stood with the porn industry when she said the Obama Administration had engaged in an “orgy” of spending and that the government “spent its wad” too early. And she commiserated with the wealthy by claiming “we’re running out of rich people in this country.” Hm, running out of rich people? Who will fund her campaign coffers? Who will pay $10,000 for a picture with her and Palin? Who will buy those big tables at her fancy fundraisers at the Minneapolis Hilton? How will she get reelected without the rich folks? Oh, yes, that’s right — she still has the Tea Partiers.
These are, after all, the simple, down-to-earth, mostly white older voters who really get her jokes. Thank God for unemployment — how else would they take off so much time to go to all of her rallies and support all her ideas of evil Big Government? Makes you wonder if they get direct deposit of their Social Security checks so they can follow her from Minnesota to D.C. without the bother of going to their government-owned banks each week.
This grassroots movement really was a boon to Bachmann, as it enabled her to let her inner comic loose, give in to her craziest ideas and get that media traction her soul sister Sarah has enjoyed for the last 18 months. And let loose she has. Here is one of the “statements of fact” she uses in her routine — the type that would even bowl over her toughest critic at Caroline’s Comedy Club.
When talking about bipartisan legislation to expand jobs in national community service programs, such as Serve America, Bachmann launched into a bit about “reeducation” that never ceases, even now, to make me laugh:
“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 concerns 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.”
How can one argue against such logic? It reminds me that Bachmann said that she considered the census the first step toward rounding up Certain Americans she thinks the government doesn’t like — at which point she cites the shameful Japanese internment camps of the 1940s. Did she laugh when her son Harrison joined Teach for America last year?
This is a strong, confident woman who doesn’t rely on facts, proof or backup documents when speaking. Facts aren’t funny, death panels and internment camps are funny — and totally hilarious is Bachmann’s request to Chris Matthews to bring back McCarthyism:
But what really gets me rolling on the floor is Bachmann’s recent comment that there were no racial slurs, no spitting on African-American members of Congress when they walked to the Capitol to vote on healthcare reform. While being interviewed by her other BFF, Sean Hannity, Bachmann made this observation:
“There were so many cameras there, Sean, no one recorded any racial motivation, and everything we’ve heard in the last week has had a racial tinge coming out of the Democrats’ mouth and there hasn’t been any racial activity.”
Apparently Bachmann was too busy mugging for the Fox cameras to notice members of her beloved Tea Party and other low-brow “activists” shouting obscenities at members of the Congressional Black Caucus, with one man actually spitting on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat. Is it possible she was checking her makeup in the camera when that protester was arrested by the Capitol Police? Was she giggling with Hannity when protesters shouted homophobic taunts at Rep. Barney Frank?
Maybe Bachmann was practicing another art — that of denial — when one of the heroes of the civil rights movement, Rep John Lewis, was also spit at and taunted with racial slurs, experiencing once more that chaotic, horrifying day when he was nearly beaten to death during a march in Alabama in the 1960s. One of our most courageous, honorable public servants should not have to defend himself against the cruel, thoughtless comments of a future Fox(y) commentator and political coward.
In an interview with conservative radio host Scott Hennen that same week, Bachmann also said:
“The media wants you to believe that tea party patriots are toothless hillbillies… This is a very sophisticated crowd. And then these charges from Democrats that they were spit upon, that there were racial epithets — there’s no one who saw anything.”
I assume this is one of Bachmann’s comedy routines — or doesn’t she realize every adult and practically every child has a camera-phone capable of taking videos? Does she actually believe this is a illusory conspiracy that the liberal media and every newspaper in the country created?
Is this an illusion?
Is this an illusion?
Since Bachmann is always looking for a great comic piece, she has offered a $10,000 reward “for anyone who can produce a video or an audio” of misbehavior — or worse — perpetrated by the protesters. Where can I pick up my check?
I promise I will use the money to buy a table at Rep. Bachmann’s next Ladies of the Tea Party Comedy Tour! I’ll invite a few of my favorite lady comics: Sarah Silverman, Joy Behar, Kathy Griffin, Judy Gold and my favorite Arab-American comedienne, Maria Shehata. But only if Bachmann promises not to put Shehata in an internment camp.
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 views of The Clyde Fitch Report.