U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann made the most of the recent Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire to officially declare her candidacy for the GOP nomination. By all accounts, the Minnesota lawmaker and Tea Party favorite scored big points at the debate, showing her ability to hold her own in the field of conservative presidential hopefuls.
And apparently, as the first woman to enter the race, she no longer looms in the shadows of Sarah Palin. A former tax lawyer for the federal government, Bachmann is perhaps as far to the rightward fringes of the political spectrum as the former Alaska Governor — just as insane, but marginally brighter.
Michele Bachmann is positioning herself as the true conservative in the race. Given her record of protesting outside of abortion clinics and fighting against statewide curricula even before she entered politics, she has true hard-right bona fides.
WATCH MSNBC COVERAGE OF BACHMANN’S CANDIDACY:
[MSNBCMSN video=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640″ w=”592″ h=”346″ launch_id=”43402020^80^724970″ id=”msnbc578200″]
And while her chances of beating Obama in a general election might be as great as the odds of Herman Cain converting to Islam, the congresswoman from Minnesota is certain to excite the base of the Republican Party. As one of the original birthers who questioned Obama’s citizenship — and founder of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress — Bachmann has been one of the most extreme and racially insensitive voices of right wing opposition to the president. And this helps explain her appeal among the GOP base.
Michele Bachmann’s record is replete with controversial statements, blatantly racially offensive remarks and outrageous conspiracy theories. For example, in a 2005 Congressional debate, she said “Not all cultures are equal. Not all values are equal.” On the eve of the 2008 election, she channeled Joseph McCarthy by accusing then-Senator and Michelle Obama of being “very anti-American” and unable to be trusted in the White House.
“If we look at the collection of friends that Barack Obama has had in his life,” Bachmann said on MSNBC’s Hardball, “it calls into question what Barack Obama’s true beliefs and values and thoughts are. His attitudes, values, and beliefs with Jeremiah Wright on his view of the United States…is negative; Bill Ayers, his negative view of the United States. We have seen one friend after another call into question his judgment — but also, what it is that Barack Obama really believes?”
“Remember it was Michele Obama who said she is only recently proud of her country and so these are very anti-American views,” Bachmann added. “That’s not the way that most Americans feel about our country. Most Americans are wild about America and they are very concerned to have a president who doesn’t share those values.” And if those statements weren’t enough, she called on the media to “take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-America or anti-America.” According to Bachmann, the Obama administration is a “gangster government” whose actions “have not been based on true American values.”
Early this year, Bachmann made a serious gaffe when she declared that the founding fathers “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” Now, that assertion would have taken many of the founders by surprise, particularly those aristocrats who owned a number of slaves, and whose livelihood depended on the continued forced labor of black people for profit.
Meanwhile, the Three-Fifths Compromise in 1787 counted black people as three-fifths of a human being in order to strengthen the South’s political power. And slavery did not end until 1865 — 89 years after America declared independence.
But the truth, this country’s ugly racial history, doesn’t stand in Michele Bachmann’s way. In her whitewashing of history, skin color just didn’t matter. “Once you got here, we were all the same,” Bachmann said. “Isn’t that remarkable? It is absolutely remarkable.”
This was not Bachmann’s only butchery of American history facts. In March, she told a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire that “You’re the state where the shot was heard ‘round the world at Lexington and Concord.” Actually, the historic battles of 1776 took place in Massachusetts.
In her Tea Party response to the president’s most recent State of the Union address, Bachmann proclaimed that “In the end, unless we fully repeal Obamacare, a nation that currently enjoys the world’s finest health care might be forced to rely on government-run coverage. That could have a devastating impact on our national debt for even generations to come.”
In reality, there are over 50 million uninsured Americans, a staggering number, so these people are not benefiting from the best medical care that money can buy. In addition, the prohibitively high price of medical care forces some people into bankruptcy. This, as the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new health care law will reduce the deficit by $210 billion over 10 years.
When first lady Michelle Obama wanted to fight childhood obesity by encouraging breastfeeding, Bachmann went into attack mode. She decried the idea as big government overreach, and claimed the government will buy your breast pumps when you have a baby.
“To think that government has to go out and buy my breast pump for my babies? You want to talk about the nanny state? I think you just got a new definition of the nanny state.” Not only was her statement dead wrong — suggesting the existence of some big wasteful government program, when pumps are tax deductible like many other medical expenses — it was tinged with racism. The sentiment expressed by Bachmann, in not-so-subtle terms, is that black people are suitable as nannies, but it’s another story when they try to tell “us” how to raise our families.
Greeting Michael Steele, the first black Republican Party chair at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference, she said “Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man!”
Last July at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Bachmann said the following about the tenure of the nation’s first black president: “We will talk a little bit about what has transpired in the last 18 months and would we count what has transpired into turning our country into a nation of slaves.”
In 2004, Bachmann revealed her homophobia, and arguably her lack of sense, in a speech when she said, “Normalization [of homosexuality] through desensitization. A very effective way to do this with a bunch of second graders is to take a picture of The Lion King for instance, and a teacher might say, ‘Do you know the music for this movie was written by a gay man?’ The message is: I’m better at what I do because I’m gay.”
And on gay marriage, she said “It isn’t that some gay will get some rights. It’s that everyone else in our state will lose rights. For instance, parents will lose the right to protect and direct the upbringing of their children…. They will be required to learn that homosexuality is normal, equal and perhaps you should try it. And that will occur immediately, that all schools will begin teaching homosexuality.”
Speaking of Obama’s November 2010 trip to Asia, Rep. Bachmann characterized the trip as “over-the- top spending.” She told Anderson Cooper that the trip “is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He’s taking two thousand people with him. He’ll be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are 5-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel.”
Bachmann refused to fill out the Census, beyond indicating how many people are in her home, on the grounds that “Constitution doesn’t require any information beyond that.” Besides, she was concerned that ACORN was in charge of collecting the Census data, and thought it was an invasion of privacy.
She also told Fox News that she would not fill out the Census — a crime punishable by a $5,000 fine — because “between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps,” Bachmann argued. “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.”
According to Bachmann, President Obama wanted to send children to mandatory re-education camps through the Ted Kennedy Serve America Act, which expands AmeriCorps. “I believe that there is a very strong chance that we will see that young people will be put into mandatory service,” she said of the legislation, which handily passed through both houses of Congress. “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.” Bachmann failed to mention that her son joined Teach for America — part of AmeriCorps, the same program she attacked as forced labor.
And Bachmann is against public schools as well, along with rivals Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. She called home schooling the “essence” of liberty because “It’s about knowing our children better than the state knows our children.” And she believes we can wipe out unemployment by abolishing the minimum wage. “Literally, if we took away the minimum wage — if conceivably it was gone — we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level,” Bachmann argued.
Michele Bachmann’s chances of clinching the GOP nomination are uncertain, maybe even a longshot. New candidates will almost certainly enter the field. And although she is a darling of the teabagger wing of her party, it is highly unlikely that a candidate like Bachmann will garner support from the more reasonable Republican moderates and conservatives that remain.
However, one thing is certain: Bachmann’s rants reveal her unadulterated absurdity. Her inflammatory rhetoric and troubling political views render her too extreme for the American mainstream. But when your nuttiness is standard fair for one of the nation’s two major political parties, you too can run for the White House.