Thursday, March 17, 2011

Michele Bachmann, the smart Tea Bagger?

In my family and circle of friends, I’ve always been considered something of an expert on politics. Given that I hold degrees (yes, plural) in the subject, this should come as no surprise. When questions arise, I’m the resource of choice for my loved ones (bite me, Google!) Recently, one of my closest friends came to me with a question: “Pauly, who the hell is Michele Bachmann?” That’s a great question, but not one that I could really answer in great detail (as is customary for me.)

The reason for my short file on Bachmann is pretty simple: there isn’t much to know. Bachmann is known more for her gaffes and “bat-sh*t crazy” reputation than anything else. At 54, she has served about five years in the U.S. House without much distinction other than having been a co-founder of the chamber’s Tea Party caucus. The Tea Partiers seem to love her, leaving everyone with an IQ above 75 to ask why. Bachmann recently found herself in the primary battleground state of New Hampshire, where she twice said the Revolutionary War started in the state (it started in Massachusetts, folks!) While it is true that the two states both have cities named Lexington and Concord, it is Palin-esque for anyone who fancies themselves a Presidential contender to make such a flub.

The ironic part is that Bachmann is not Palin, O’Donnell, or Sharron Angle. Bachmann actually holds two law degrees (the second from the prestigious William and Mary College of Law,) and once worked for the Internal Revenue Service. Were she any of the other three of the Tea Party’s pillars of female brilliance (in other words, were she lucky to have an undergraduate degree from a middling school,) then we could understand … but Bachmann is actually (among the four,) considered to be "The Smart One"!

To be sure, Tea Party voters are not known for their detailed, brilliant platforms and positions. Most of their (ahem) “positions” are based on their collective comfort with ignorance. It’s a virtue and they espouse it (check out the signs at one of their rallies some time.) The Tea Party reminds me a lot of the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who willingly referred to themselves as “idiots.” The difference is that the Sox had talent and the Tea Party has real idiots.

Bachmann is best known for voting against any kind of progressive legislation and for writing the occasional cuckoo bill. She recently proposed a bill that would bar the American dollar from ever being replaced as the national currency (which would be illegal and unconstitutional, anyway.) Her finest bit of legislative craftsmanship is arguably the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, which hasn’t, as yet, passed and probably won’t get past the Democratically-controlled Senate. Bachmann has brought the bill up twice now.

Bachmann was not born into a Republican family. On the contrary, she was a Democrat until he Senior Year in college. That year, she read Burr, Gore Vidal's novel (that is a work of FICTION) about the late Vice President and accused traitor. Bachmann felt Vidal “was kind of mocking the Founding Fathers” in the book and decided “I don't think I am a Democrat. I must be a Republican.”

To sum up: five distinction free years in the lower chamber of Congress, a decent fund-raising record, a failed light bulb law, and a failed run at a lower-rung House leadership position is all that is on Bachmann’s rap sheet. She is popular with the Tea Partiers (which is a bit like being the kid in summer school that almost passed that remedial math class,) and was selected to give their response to Obama’s State of the Union address this year. That and five dollars will buy her a caramel mocha latté, but won’t get near the White House. I say we all thank God and move on!

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