BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White
I shudder to hear the amorous sighs of conservative commentators over Rep. Michele Bachmann's history lecture at CPAC Friday. Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey introduced her as "a tea party activist since before the tea arrived."
Shortly after, she took the stage, set to the music of Tom Jones' version of "She's a Lady." Oh, goodness, I thought. Here comes the crazy.
Thing is, I was wrong. Sort of. Bachmann seems to have heard about the recent survey in which a majority of Minnesotans said that they were "embarrassed" by the congresswoman representing their sixth district.
Bachmann did her best to be not quite so embarrassing by masking her paranoia in an obscure religious rehashing of American history. If there's any thing at all that Glenn Beck has taught her it's that the intersection of TEA and GOP is twisted history.
She started out with a stack of charts, fudging some facts on the bank bailout to make it look like all fiscal irresponsibility ever came from the Democrats in the last 13 months. At one point, trying to make the "D" in Democrat stand for deficit, she referred to a chart of the federal deficit over the past several presidential administrations and said, "You can see where the Republicans took over Congress, with the surplus there under Clinton."
Yeah, the balancing of the budget had nothing to do with President Clinton. It was all Kenneth Starr, I believe.
Shortly after this, she said that while fantasy football is A-OK, "You can't indulge in fantasy economics. It just doesn't work."
If by that you mean it doesn't work unless you are talking to a bunch of gullible tea partiers, I'm with you.
Meanwhile the crowd goes wild. Of course, they're not cheering for her charts so much.
My favorite part about watching CPAC from afar on the Internet is the peanut gallery (aside from the fact that there's no chance I'll run into Rush Limbaugh, of course). As you can see by the screenshot I've included with this story, there's a little scrolling chat room alongside the CPAC video feed as presented by Townhall.com. As Bachmann was discussing her warped version of Econ 101, the kids in class seemed to be staring at, uh, something else. Here are some of the time-stamped remarks I copied and pasted off the chatterbox just after noon while Bachmann was speaking:
12:02 lbccman: consertive woman are hott!!!!
12:03 bonz88: Like I said WE GOT THE BABES
12:03 lbccman: lib girls have hairey pitt
12:03 Furpc: lib girls have hairy legs
12:04 bonz88: What does the other side have,Hillary?M.Obama?
Yeah, you guys are so lucky to have Michele Bachmann. We're super jealous over here.
Anyway, attention really dropped off when Bachmann began her rambling, weepy history lesson. Yawn. Even a first-year history prof knows not to read straight from the book, congresswoman.
She managed to sneak in her crazy where she could. She led a recitation of the Declaration of Independence, doing her part to make our founding fathers sound as religious as possible.
As I've noted before (and to which the religious right has openly admitted) there's a concerted effort to either replace the Constitution worship with the Declaration of Independence or to merge the two in legal scholarship, to finally cement Biblical law as the law of the land in America. Bachmann's just trying to help out.
She even apparently got some of the audience to join in the recitation, according the the poor liveblogger David Frum recruited to cover the Bachmann speech, who called her "Prof. Bachmann" throughout (I couldn't hear the audience participation, but I wouldn't be surprised if at least a few of them had it memorized).
Bachmann dug up the most religious quotes she could find from our founding fathers, insisting that "we are creatures made by God," and that people should fight against tyranny for their God-given rights.
She further used that founding religiosity to drive home that right-wing talking point that America is a Christian nation. "That's our mission statement. It's the essence of who we are."
Um, no. That's the essence of who you are. Thanks for playing, though.
Of course, the talking point that always comes after the "founding fathers were practically saints" rhetoric is that their legacy is in danger of falling by the wayside. And if that happens, Bachmann said, it'll mean we chose "decline."
"But that isn't what the founders chose. They chose us, and they chose greatness for us," she said.
Having established an amorphous threat to our national "mission statement," Bachmann urged the crowd to follow in the footsteps of American Revolutionary War fighter Joseph Warren and fight for freedom. She said that "our country is in danger" and worried out loud about the "the Obama thought police, the Obama speech police."
To me it sounded like a holy war. But there's no doubt in my mind that it was music to Glenn Beck's ears.
Speaking of Beck, Bachmann's final history lesson was a story about four army chaplains on a sinking ship off the coast of Greenland in 1943. As the U.S. soldiers jumped into life boats, the men of God decided for some untold reason to stay on the ship and go down with it.
"They preached courage! 'Courage, men, courage!'" Bachmann said in a faux whisper, trying to conjure up a tear for the audience (I couldn't tell if she succeeded, because her eyes are so tiny and the video quality wasn't that great). "And so I charge you again today: Let us act with great courage, with that spirit of sacrifice."
I'm sure someone felt goosebumps. It just wasn't me.
Cue the Tom Jones exit music, and stay classy, Michele.
BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS