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I witnessed a dark side of Michele Bachmann’s character

Anger and pettiness are not popular character traits when the public persona is created.
REUTERS/Charlie Neibergall
Anger and pettiness are not popular character traits when the public persona is created.

In 2006, on the day she defeated three other candidates to win the Republican endorsement to run for Congress for the first time, Michele Bachmann took time off between ballots at the endorsing convention to threaten a woman, repeatedly and publicly, even after a crowd gathered.

While the woman tried to stand her ground and asked repeatedly what Bachmann was going to do to her, Bachmann kept repeating the three words “you will pay” until the woman was led away in tears by her husband.

I witnessed it as a Strib reporter covering the convention. It was weird and creepy. It featured a dark side of Bachmann’s character that contrasts with her usual public persona of buoyant optimism and, I guess, her public aspirations to Christian virtue.

To my own shame and regret, I didn’t write about the kerfuffle for the next day’s paper. When I did write about it, a year later, I offered various explanations/excuses for my delay, which I don’t repeat here except to say that they were lame.

Anyway, this won’t be nearly as long as part one of this strange “Bachmann and Me” series. I was just a bystander. I don’t claim it is the biggest nor one of the 10 biggest things the nation needs to know about Bachmann as it sizes her up as a potential president. I don’t even believe the anecdote supports Newsweek’s effort to crown Bachmann as “The Queen of Rage.”

Bachmann & Me

It’s no secret that political candidates adopt somewhat contrived likable outward personas based to some degree on themselves, which they play in public. Anger and pettiness are not popular character traits when the public version is created. Whole elections are sometimes changed when the public gets a glimpse — or what they believe is a glimpse — behind the façade. (Remember in 1992 when the first President Bush was caught on camera glancing at his watch during one of the debates? How idiotic that it became such a big deal that we still remember it.)

The confrontation
It was May 6, 2006. The convention was at Monticello High School. Bachmann, then still a state senator, had amassed a commanding lead in the precinct caucuses and county conventions.

At the big endorsing convention, she led comfortably on the first two ballots. On the third, she passed the 60 percent threshold necessary for endorsement and the convention then made it unanimous. Since all of the candidates had pledged to abide by the endorsement, this meant she had locked up the Repub nomination for the open U.S. House seat (which she would go on to win in November).

The balloting was in the school’s auditorium. My Strib colleague Dane Smith was inside the hall so, after the second ballot, I was out in the lobby where the Internet was accessible, beaming updates to the mothership. That, coincidentally, put me in position to witness the unexpected baring of the Bachmann fangs.

The background, which I learned later, was that the woman, a longtime Republican activist who held party positions, had backed one of Bachmann’s opponents. The day before the convention, the party’s Nominations Committee met and, as a matter of normal procedure, discussed whether anyone had information about any of the candidates that might bar them from being nominated.

The meetings are closed and supposedly confidential, but apparently the woman expressed some reservations about Bachmann’s fitness to be the Republican nominee. There had been questions raised publicly (including in a piece I wrote) about the propriety of some of Bachmann’s expenses for which she had been reimbursed by the state Senate, specifically for cable TV in her home. Those issues were dinky, but they apparently were raised before the Nominations Committee. The committee did not take them very seriously and all of the candidates, including Bachmann, were cleared to be nominated.

The confrontation at the convention started inside the auditorium, but as Bachmann left the hall, presumably for the usual between-ballots strategizing and vote-seeking, it spilled into the lobby. A crowd gathered.

“You will pay, you will pay,” Bachmann said to the woman in front of a dozen or more witnesses. She said it a lot of times and, as far as I witnessed, never said anything else. The woman grew increasingly upset at the nonspecific threat and began to weep while still demanding to know how Bachmann was going to make her pay.

Was Bachmann going to get her fired from her job with the Legislature? Pressure the party to strip her of her official posts? Work against the woman’s own political ambitions (turns out she was seeking the Repub endorsement herself, for a seat in the Legislature)? Something worse? What?

Bachmann didn’t specify. Just: “You will pay; you will pay.”

While the woman melted down, Bachmann portrayed an eerie calm and maintained an expression with which I later became more familiar from covering her at other stressful moments. Her gaze was steady. She was sort of smiling throughout.

If you watched the Fox-sponsored debate in Iowa last week, and you kept your eyes on Bachmann when Tim Pawlenty was using his time to describe Bachmann as a politician with a “nonexistent” record of achievement, the look on her face was quite similar. A little eerie but exuding a steely composure. In the Iowa case, she waited for her turn and gave as good as she got. It was T-Paw who would be gone from the race two days later, while her status as a top-tier contender was enhanced. In the Monticello High School, it was the same look but just the repetition of “you will pay.”

I half-heartedly tried to talk to the woman as her husband led her away in tears, but he asked me to give her space to calm down, and I did. I didn’t see her again that day to follow up. But I did get her name from a bystander and called later to follow up. Since I got her name on my own, I was not then and am not now under any journo-ethical obligation to withhold her identity but have decided to do so for her sake. She has thanked me for that and I’m at peace with it. This account relies mostly on what I witnessed, so her identity is less of an issue.

By the time I talked to the woman, she had lost the endorsement she was seeking for an open seat in the Minnesota House. Bachmann supported her opponent, who went on to win the seat. Since then, she did lose two jobs in politics or government. She has no evidence that Bachmann was behind her problems.

Some perspective
As far as I know, Bachmann didn’t do any more than threaten the woman and oppose her for that endorsement, which, of course, is perfectly reasonable, especially since the woman opposed Bachmann’s bid for endorsement for Congress.

Seeking public office is very demanding and actual culmination of an intraparty campaign at an endorsement convention is very stressful. I’m sure many candidates have shouted and threatened as well as cajoled and pleaded behind the scenes, although such displays usually occur out of public view.

I’m reluctant to place Bachmann’s cruelty toward the woman into the context of her religiosity. I view the religious beliefs and conduct of everyone as private, personal business, but that attitude can get in the way when covering Bachmann, who is more public about her religiosity than any candidate politician I’ve ever covered. I’m not a Christian and don’t claim to know what Jesus would do to someone who supported a different candidate for messiah, but I have a hunch it wouldn’t be threats of unspecified retaliation.

I emailed the Bachmann campaign that I would be writing about the incident at the 2006 convention and offered to include anything Bachmann wanted to add as to how she came to threaten the woman and how she feels about the incident in retrospect. I received no reply.

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Comments (60)

  1. Submitted by Steve Gatzke on 08/18/2011 - 08:55 am.

    If, as you say, you “don’t claim it is the biggest nor one of the 10 biggest things the nation needs to know about Bachmann as it sizes her up as a potential president”, then why write this article at all? Maybe I’m missing the point of what you were trying to say…

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/18/2011 - 09:07 am.

    @Steve Gatzke: It seems Eric was trying to say MB can be vindictive, but on pretty slim evidence.

  3. Submitted by Tim Cheesebrow on 08/18/2011 - 09:07 am.

    I wasn’t aware there was another side.

  4. Submitted by Derek Wain on 08/18/2011 - 09:20 am.

    Eric Black forgot to mention the incident where the young Michele pulled a classmates pigtails in 2nd grade.
    This is more anti-Bachmann slander and not credible in the least, since Eric Black admits that he has published anti-Bachmann material in the past (“questions raised publicly (including in a piece I wrote) about the propriety of some Bachmann’s expenses”) and that the nameless woman was a political opponent of Bachmann’s.

  5. Submitted by Bruce Leier on 08/18/2011 - 09:51 am.

    Steve, do you advocate only writing about “the 10 biggest things”?

  6. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/18/2011 - 09:51 am.

    Some of the New Yorker piece by Ryan Lizza (which just arrived in the mail Tuesday and I just started to read) describes how Bachmann refuses to allow herself to be photographed wearing casual clothes. So Lizza describes this and the New Yorker cartoonist illustrator has a fine caricature of Bachmann in cargo pants. The point I think Eric is making is that Bachmann’s projected public persona is just too carefully polished to suppress a more fallible, human side. Personally, I think she reminds me of a “Stepford-wife” but readers can draw their own conclusions of what “there” exists, if any, in Bachmann.

  7. Submitted by Wm. Sweeney on 08/18/2011 - 09:57 am.

    Eric is a fine journalist, but this piece is not a testimony to his body of work. The best adjective I can think of is “catty”.

  8. Submitted by Pat McGee on 08/18/2011 - 09:57 am.

    Steve, I believe the point is to illustrate the person behind the public facade. Thank you, Eric, for the article. We need to see how candidates behave when they are off-script.

  9. Submitted by frank watson on 08/18/2011 - 10:26 am.

    It would be nice to ready a story from a “jouralist” about Bachmans plans for the U.S. economy, health care, energy…rather her knowledge of John Wayne’s birthplace, Elvis’s birthday or that a women might have a temper.

  10. Submitted by Paul Scott on 08/18/2011 - 10:54 am.

    I liked this piece. It doesn’t surprise me to learn that a supposedly faith-based congressional candidate has behaved like a jerk to a woman in tears, but it does bother me and I think it would bother nuetral observers, of which I am not, and I think it is far more valuable information than her gaffes over the birthdate of Elvis, et al. I think we ought to learn as much as possible about the personal qualities of all persons seeking higher office, especially since so many voter decisions are based on a presumed knowledge of those qualities as derived from television commercials and ghostwritten autobiographies. A person who threatens to exact revenge on an opponent for a congressional race will have a much bigger sandlot to play in in the White House.

  11. Submitted by Tony Solgard on 08/18/2011 - 11:12 am.

    It’s not so much the dark side of Michele Bachmann’s character as it is the dark side of electoral politics. A politician dressing down an opposing operative is news? Eric, you should get out to a few more political conventions.

  12. Submitted by Paula Vraa on 08/18/2011 - 11:14 am.

    In my opinion, and from the perspective of a professional woman, I find this post to be petty, as well as demeaning to women. It’s okay for the one woman to melt down and cry, but it’s not okay for Bachmann to show a steely resolve? Also, politicians are human and will make occasional gaffes and misspeak, and this incident happened about five years ago. I do not support Bachmann in the least, but I do not think that dredging up a hapless comment from five years ago is the way to shed light on her fitness as a candidate.

  13. Submitted by Phil Dech on 08/18/2011 - 11:16 am.

    Actually, Michele misspoke. WE’RE paying, not the GOP activist.

  14. Submitted by Christine Hansen on 08/18/2011 - 11:17 am.

    MinnPost is a nonprofit, nonpartisan enterprise whose mission is to provide high-quality journalism for news-intense people who care about Minnesota.

    “nonpartisan?” Really. Be as partisan as you wish, but own it.

  15. Submitted by PHILLIP HANKLAND on 08/18/2011 - 11:20 am.

    It seems whenever you get one of these rather far out religious participants, such as she and her husband seem to be, the character that they try to put out there for the public to see is not what they practice in there daily lives.
    In other words…DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO!!

  16. Submitted by PHILLIP HANKLAND on 08/18/2011 - 11:22 am.

    The long and the short of it Is Michelle Bachmann is not PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL AT ALL!! end of story!!

  17. Submitted by Steve Marchese on 08/18/2011 - 11:22 am.

    How is this piece helpful to the public about understanding Bachmann? While I think Black is suggesting she can be mean and vindictive based on a 5 year old incident that he never reported, this comes across as pretty weak and petty

    There are plenty aspects of Bachmann, her policy positions and her record that bear scrutiny. And I do think her temperament is also fair game, to a point. Unfortunately, this article adds little helpful to the discourse. Let’s have some real analysis, please.

  18. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/18/2011 - 11:38 am.

    #10… you won’t find such information from Ms. Bachmann because she hasn’t thought about nor is she informed about those things in any way deep enough to produce actual plans.

    I think you could sum her approach to all of it up in two phrases: “everyone for themselves” and “survival of the fittest (those best able to game the system to their own advantage) and the devil take the hindmost.”

    As to the usefulness of the information presented in this article, Ms. Bachmann is revealed by this anecdote (of which I suspect there are MANY similar examples) to be someone who far too easily regards anyone who opposes her as an enemy and seeks to get even with those who have opposed her just as soon as she is in a position of sufficient power to do so.

    A healthier person, a MORE CHRISTIAN person would forgive those who opposed them.

  19. Submitted by Steve Aschburner on 08/18/2011 - 11:39 am.

    Read with interest. But from 30+ years covering big-time sports, a rhubarb in which one party is reduced to tears and the allegedly nastier one says only “You will pay” repeatedly would be known simply as good ol’ locker room banter. No profanity? No threats of bodily harm? No need to be pulled apart to avoid physical contact? Meh. Twins teammates go at each other harder than that every day.

  20. Submitted by Marcia Brekke on 08/18/2011 - 11:40 am.

    Michele’s “dark side” is a manifestation of the Reconstructionist philosophy that governs her actions. All who oppose this philosophy are apostates and deserve Old Testament punishments.
    This article exposes a side of her that reveals her true motivation and is a valuable public service.

  21. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 08/18/2011 - 11:42 am.

    I think it would be great if there was information on all candidates’ plans. But I suspect that they are mere notions, not actual plans, so there is little to report. Besides, if you think that Bachmann’s flaws won’t affect her ability to be President, I would say that notion is naive. After all, she will happily spew half-truths and lies, and apparently has no qualms about publicly baring her own catty claws to an opponent in public. Those are not qualities that I would trust in the one person that is arguably the most powerful in the world.

  22. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 08/18/2011 - 11:52 am.

    I disagree that this isn’t one of the Top 10 things to know about Michele Bachmann. Showing how someone treats other people, whether they hold a grudge, whether they make threats are more important to me that actual issues. The fact that she would sit there and berate a woman who was moving to tears like a predator facing her next meal speaks more to me about Bachmann than any of the books she read, where she went to school, legislation she did and didn’t author, etc. It also shows how with a lesbian stepsister she can look at the hurt her anti-gay marriage amendment will cause someone she knows personally and not care one whit about it. I frankly think the world has too many egotistical jerks as elected officials.

    Eric’s unwillingness to cover this initially does, however, further confirm my belief that Minnesota’s political reporters are essentially afraid of Michele Bachmann. I can’t think of a single serious and timely story about Bachmann that was created by a Minnesota journalist. All of the big stories on Bachmann have come from national political reporters. Maybe the Saint Cloud Times does, but it doesn’t seem to leave the area.

  23. Submitted by ann klefstad on 08/18/2011 - 11:59 am.

    I think what Black saw matters. Bachmann’s self-justifying virtue–which seems so often, in fundamentalist Christians, to be built on a foundation of shame and fear–means to me that power, for her, is simply domination. That she will use it not in help, mercy, grace, but instead to punish and to win.

    Why don’t journalists write about her policy ideas? I’m guessing it’s because she doesn’t seem to advance policy ideas. She has a bucketload of slogans, usually anti- (gays, Obama, some thing that she calls “socialism”) but, from what I can gather, nothing like a coherent set of well-thought ideas on how to govern. She’s a warrior, not an administrator.

  24. Submitted by Laurel Reeves on 08/18/2011 - 12:08 pm.

    Mr. Watson, in order for a journalist to write about Rep. Bachmann’s plans, such plans would have to have been made known. So far as I’ve found, her position on every issue you listed is basically anti whatever action has been taken without indication of specifics about how she would address the issue. Her lack of knowledge of incidental informaton is fair game when she makes it so and a temper is a scary characteristic of anyone who wants the highest office. Thank you Mr. Black for the incites into her character.

  25. Submitted by ann klefstad on 08/18/2011 - 12:11 pm.

    On why journos don’t cover Bachmann’s policy ideas: If you go to her website, her “policy ideas” are entirely vague (“I know what it takes to run a small business because I co-own one with my husband”) and about 90% (based on word count) negative– that is, anti- the various Tea Party bogeymen. She has no actual policies– which to me means she’ll take dictation from the guys actually running the Tea Party show, like the Koch brothers and others who are interested in restructuring America to make life safe for very large multinational corporations– that is, get all those democracy-loving elected officials out of the way, and let the ruling class “take care” of you. They want to finish what they started during the Bush years.

  26. Submitted by Lisa Dircks on 08/18/2011 - 12:15 pm.

    “When a woman abuses her position to repeatedly and publicly harangue a public figure, she should be chastised.”

    Does this go for all public figures or only the ones that the comment writer endorses? And can the same be said for men?

    Isn’t it our responsibility to question every candidates fitness for office?

    Isn’t part of our nomination/election process the responsibility to vote for, after careful consideration, the candidates we believe will, as individuals or as a caucus, do the best job?

    I was not at said convention in 2006, but I have to assume that the woman being “chastised” was entrusted with taking a thorough assessment of all the candidates so that the party could nominate and support the best person for the job. She apparently didn’t feel that Bachmann was the best choice and mentioned her doubts in a closed committee meeting. How is that a repeated public haranguing?

    If this is acceptable behavior within the party caucus – it goes a long way to explaining said parties behavior when dealing with people who are not part of their group – and it doesn’t matter which party you are talking about.

  27. Submitted by TJ Pavey on 08/18/2011 - 12:17 pm.

    @frank watson
    Since you used quotes I figured I’d reply as a “journalist.”

    Health Care: She opposes “Obamacare” and often cites “research” over how this will cause companies to cut health care benefits from employees. I’m quite certain this has gone on for many years, long before any health care laws were passed. Also, she supported the Ryan “plan” to help medicare. Which simply states they didn’t want people over 55 having a problem with benefits. Great… but how?

    Economy: Cut taxes! Well… taxes are the lowest since Reagan times. How’s that working out? Recently taxes were cut drastically for oil companies their revenues and profits increased drastically. They cut jobs. Cutting taxes does not create jobs. It never has. She also opposes the debt ceiling. I find this humorous considering she loved everything W did including his turn around of the largest recent surplus to the then largest deficit in US history. (It has gotten worse.)

    Energy: Drill, drill, drill! Investigate other fossil fuel sources. Stop cap and trade and stop EPA regulations. She firmly believes that we overreacted to the BP oil spill. It wasn’t a big deal after all… She says nothing of renewable resources or any need for energy conservation.

    So how’s that? Basically she wants to continue policies that have shown to be very ineffective in the past and her “plans” are nothing more that pie-in-the-sky comments without an attempt at how she may implement them. The thing is, I can read all of that on her personal website. If I come here for information I would rather it not be a copy and paste from somewhere else.

  28. Submitted by Juniper Johansen on 08/18/2011 - 12:19 pm.

    Nice article. I would love to see people stop calling people Bachmann haters when they write about her negative side. She is not a very nice person and people need to be aware of this instead of the media giving her a free pass on her “soccer mom” identity. She is a very homophobic person and her views on gay people need to be given full media attention. Do not let her say they do not matter they do. If you stand for President, you are President of all Americans. If you can not represent part of America this needs to be highlighted.

  29. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 08/18/2011 - 12:37 pm.

    #10, I think we have seen those stories. For the economy, she would let America default on its obligations. For health care, she would let the poor die rather than have the government help. She would privatize social security and leave us all victims of the stock market. Energy? Drill, baby, drill and her promise to get us two-dollar a gallon gas. She wants the gays to straighten up or go to hell. She puts her foot in her mouth more than anyone since George Bush and probably even more than him. She claimed to know the secret Iranian plan for Iraq, something no one else in America knew about. Yes there are 10 thngs more dangerous and evil about her than not knowing Elvis’ birthday from death day or basic facts about American history. I think maybe number one on the list should be that her and many of her followers want to destroy the America I grew up in and impose a theocracy based on fundamentalist Christian nonsense and that they would impose a tyranny of faith over fact.

  30. Submitted by Joe Musich on 08/18/2011 - 12:40 pm.

    Maybe she had a migraine. But then ?

  31. Submitted by rolf westgard on 08/18/2011 - 12:55 pm.

    Bachmann, or a surrogate, recently published a Strib editorial about oil and energy. It was replete with technical errors. I wrote a response, taking it apart, which the Strib published under the heading, “Bachmann doesn’t know anything about oil”. The op-eds are easy to find on the Strib web site.
    To my knowledge there has been no attempt to “make me pay”. But on reading this article, I am inclined start avoiding the usual dark alleys.

  32. Submitted by M Holtgrewe on 08/18/2011 - 01:26 pm.

    @Frank…she actually has to HAVE a plan on the economy, healthcare etc. Her only plan is to tout lies and pretend that she has actually done anything at all while holding such a political position. The truth will reveal itself soon enough; like when she actually has to answer a valid presidential question.

  33. Submitted by Jim Roth on 08/18/2011 - 01:49 pm.

    This is a mildly interesting but insignificant peek behind the curtain. Many of the mass media have covered Bachmann’s views on domestic and foreign policy which are frankly much scarier. She herself is a master at drawing attention to herself and obtaining extensive coverage most often including video. When she is criticized or questioned about her many and often significant misstatements of fact she denies them and changes the subject.

  34. Submitted by Gail O'Hare on 08/18/2011 - 02:08 pm.

    Personally, I’m grateful to any respected journalist who will at least occasionally step away from neutrality. Black reports an incident that offers a different view of our smiling Barbie Doll clone. And why exactly are conservatives here expostulating when their own mouthpieces (Rush, et al.) wrote the book on vicious, one-sided character assassination? Black describes an incident he saw and can verify.

    Another piece that tells us something about Bachmann’s approach to anyone who crosses her can be found in Politico:

    Apparently she doesn’t know that freedom of the press is part of the 1st Amendment or that assault and battery are crimes.

    When she has something intelligent and factual to offer on real issues, I’m sure Black will report her proposals. So far, her biggest claim to fame is a bill in defense of incandescent lightbulbs.

  35. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 08/18/2011 - 02:11 pm.

    It would indeed be nice to hear about Bachmann’s plans on the economy, health-care, and energy. Once she says something other than she’ll create jobs, bring gas down to under 2 dollars, and repeal “obamacare”, Eric and his colleagues can proceed to report on it.

    If Bachmann is content to spout off banal slogans with no specifics, her supporters shouldn’t complain that the news isn’t reporting those details. It’s hard to report on non-existent plans.

  36. Submitted by Peter Swanson on 08/18/2011 - 02:53 pm.


    WWJD? Would He have endorsed the opponent of the woman who opposed Him in his congressional bid? Of course not!

    Jesus would have turned the other cheek and endorsed His political opponent at the BPOU convention. Then He would have campaigned for the endorsed candidate in the primary and general election. Love your enemies, at least through the endorsing convention!

    Good of you to be “reluctant” to bring religion into this. Between your Star Tribune reporting, Star Tribune blogging, independent blogging, and Minn Post work, did you ever write about Dean Johnson’s religion? I hope the answer is no. That would be a cheap shot.

  37. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/18/2011 - 03:38 pm.

    For what little it’s worth, I’m inclined to endorse Jim Roth (#33).

    This story neither surprises me – I just assume people with egos big enough to think they’re presidential material have a nasty side – nor seems especially revelatory. It also doesn’t seem especially important. Mrs. Bachmann can be vindictive and mean. She won’t talk to some reporters because they’ve proved… um… less admiring than she’s accustomed to. Meh… What else is new?

    Failing to respond to questions that aren’t softballs seems to be a Bachmann trait (in fairness, it’s a trait shared by many a politician and public figure), and in general, local media have let her get away with it. I’m more interested in some of the issues that other commentators have raised: What ARE her policy proposals? How would they be implemented? Who would benefit? Who would suffer? Who would pay whatever the costs might be? If she’s a “serious scholar” of public policy, as she claims to be, where are the specifics in her policy proposals?

    So far, she’s proved to be adept at spouting Tea Party horse droppings without any factual basis to support them, and her “policy proposals” are largely built out of right-wing propaganda. That people who claim to be reasonable and sensible vote for her at all, for anything, concerns me at least as much as the possibility that she might somehow become the presidential nominee of a political party.

  38. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 08/18/2011 - 03:59 pm.

    Bachmann has exposed her dark side too often publicly and Eric Black only documents her dark side substantially.

    It’s a necessary process to reveal the backside of a personality that is inherently dangerous if she ever becomes a serious candidate.

    Her gang of publicists are dependent on herd-mentality to gain a following. That’s primarily a tool of cultists and cultism; religious fundamentalism…then merging with politics of the state; all crammed into one warped platform.

    Hermann Glaser in his book, “The Cultural Roots Of National Socialism’, coined a recyclable phrase when he spoke of he “Spiesser Mentality”; the state of mind that evolved with and sanctioned the ‘Gobellization’ of Germany by limiting the survival; the rights of so many for the sake of a sick fanaticism to say it gently…how citizens fell into place like sheep behind a particular quasi-charismatic figurehead.

    Tie racial or economic racism into the picture with fear and hate as convenient bed fellows; structured around religious fundamentalism and you can hook a lot of simple minds.

    If Bachmann or any of the fundamentalist Repub candidates fit the picture and gain a following, we’re dealing with more than the loss of democracy as we once knew it…we could become victims of our own making…titillated, mesmerized; blinded by the stupidity of self aggrandizement preying and playing to too many simple souls who don’t quite get it…

  39. Submitted by J E Strader on 08/18/2011 - 04:30 pm.

    The only thing that surprises me about this is the notion, implied in the headline, that Michelle Bachmann has a bright side.

  40. Submitted by Tom Miller on 08/18/2011 - 05:49 pm.

    The same people who mindlessly accept Michele Bachmann’s misstatements and flat-out lies on policy are just as likely to see her dark side as a huge positive. This article, which generated a lot of thoughtful comments, points to an aspect of Bachmann that makes her a stronger presidential package than many of us realized. Imagine the reaction of her fans if she says to Wen Jiabao, Vladimir Putin or Ayman al-Zawahri “you will pay.” They’d eat it up. Just like “bring ’em on.”

  41. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 08/18/2011 - 06:30 pm.

    I think MinnPost needs to change its logo on this page. By claiming that this article represents “a thoughtful approach to news” convinces only the thoughtless DFL Kool-Aid drinkers. They are adequately represented in the comments.

    Actually the MinnPost crop art story with images of M.B. cultivated far less manure.

    I cannot wait for some “hard-hitting” national news organization to pick up this insightful and damaging “journalism” concerning the real M.B

  42. Submitted by Lance Groth on 08/18/2011 - 06:36 pm.

    Regarding Beryl’s (#37) comment, Frank Herbert once summed up the point succinctly when he wrote: “When religion and politics ride in the same cart, the whirlwind follows.”

    Along the same lines, Jim Kunstler has repeatedly warned against the rise of what he calls “corn-pone Nazis”.

    Any time events conspire to mix economic/financial crisis, high unemployment, a generalized feeling of anxiety and hopelessness, simplistic sloganeering, jingoism, religious fervor and a charismatic personality, is a time of extreme danger. This is such a time.

    If America is destroyed, it will not be from without, but from within. If the American Experiment fails, it will be because Americans themselves sabotaged it. America is, at present, and will be increasingly so in coming decades, ripe for the rise of a Caesar (if we’re lucky in our bad luck), or a Hitler (if we’re particularly unlucky, or just stupid).

    Don’t think it can happen here? We’ve already taken steps down the path. Just as the Roman Senate spinelessly handed over power to Octavian, our Congress, stampeded by fear, passed the Patriot Act without even reading it.

    Any time, but most particularly in these times, it is appropriate to probe the character of those who wish to become president. Saying “you will pay” to a political opponent at a convention does not rise to the level of flashing red lights in my mind, but there is nothing wrong with exploring what is behind the carefully prepared public facade. Obama has endured far worse from such idiocy as the birth certificate question, and I haven’t heard any conservatives complain about that.

  43. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/18/2011 - 06:56 pm.

    She’s human. Must be a slow news day

  44. Submitted by John Olson on 08/18/2011 - 08:22 pm.

    Politico also presented a report on Bachmann’s handlers who have (allegedly) “roughed up” reporters from a variety of organizations (including Fox News).

    Whether she likes it or not, she has made the choice to enter the fray. Whether she likes it or not, the brickbats are going to fly in her direction. Her party has gone after Michelle Obama and even their kids. (Google Malia or Sasha Obama Republican Comments if you need proof.)

    Bachmann’s party went after Obama early and often during the campaign and continues to this day. Once again, the Bachmann camp somehow continues to think that they can dish it all day long and are exempt from any criticism. It is only going to get worse, not better as Rick Perry adds his insights and wisdom to the debate.

    If these types of stories keep showing up with more recent datelines, the tensions are only going to continue to build.

  45. Submitted by rolf westgard on 08/18/2011 - 09:05 pm.

    Before we get too smug about the likely demise of Michele B., remember the latest Texas governor looms. Bye bye physics; hello intelligent design.

  46. Submitted by Karl Struck on 08/18/2011 - 10:43 pm.

    Mr. Black,

    You have really gone out on a limb on this one (yawn, yawn, zzzz zzz zzz). Funny I also repeatedly told my brother he was “going to pay” after he put a sunfish in my sleeping bag while camping. If my memory serves me correct I had a lot more anger than Michelle on this particular day.

    “To my own shame and regret, I didn’t write about the kerfuffle for the next day’s paper.”–I find it hard to believe that after your many years of covering politicians that this event merited discussion with friends much less a printed story. As a previous commenter noted, politicians in general have massive ego’s that are often stoked by supporters, staff, and media. Since her days in the state senate it has been apparent that Ms. Bachman is not Mr. Rodgers.

    While I am at it can I also make a suggestion? Find a new angle besides the tired “He/she touts her Christian beliefs but look at how she/he acts! I don’t think that is very Christian!” That type of writing is just lazy journalism. Christian or not, nobody’s an angel. With your experience covering politics this should be quite obvious by this point.

  47. Submitted by Glenn Mesaros on 08/19/2011 - 03:06 am.

    Here is what is more important, recently from the LA Times:

    “Tea party queen and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is convinced that America is sinking into tyranny. Why? In a remarkable profile of the candidate appearing in the Aug. 15 issue of the New Yorker magazine, the artistic flowering of the Italian Renaissance takes a beating for having done away with the god-fearing Dark Ages.”

    This comes from nut case “christian” philosopher Francis Schaeffer. These Old Testament fanatics believe that “man” is inherently evil and wicked, contaminated by original sin, and incapable of creative mentation. They should read St. Augustine’s City of God to understand why the Puritans called for building such a “city on a hill” in America.

  48. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/19/2011 - 07:31 am.

    I wish democrat politicians were as overtly anti-Christian as their sycophants are. It would be nice to have an open and honest public debate about the role God plays in a free society and whether or not it’s a good thing that our political leaders have strong religious beliefs, or none as is the case with Obama.

    Maybe the press will make a point to explore that angle during the presidential debates. Don’t hold your breath.

  49. Submitted by Paul Landskroener on 08/19/2011 - 09:03 am.

    I’m more interested what, if anything, Bachmann did to this woman after making the threat. Making political threats is one thing; carrying them out is another.

  50. Submitted by Tom Knisely on 08/19/2011 - 09:31 am.

    I’m shocked! Shocked to find out that Bachmann is a hard nosed politician. Come on people. Lyndon Johnson’s threats were legendary. Mayor Daily anyone? The current mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, made his entire politcal reputation on making threats and making people pay as a senior advisor to Clinton and Chief of staff to Obama. His nickname was Rambo for the way he took out opponents for crying out loud. He once sent a dead fish to a pollster he was mad at. I dare say this whole article seems a bit sexist. When liberal males threaten and make people pay they’re portrayed as “tough” “hard scrabble” politicians. When a Conservative woman does it she’s a witch. I’m not saying what Bachman did was okay. I’m just pointing out the double standard.

  51. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/19/2011 - 10:14 am.

    Those of us Christians who seek, day by day, to discern and follow the example set in the life, the teachings, the ministry, and the spiritual guidance of Jesus, himself,

    tend to attack dominionists like Ms. Bachmann precisely because they would turn back the clock to 1st Century Judea, hold up Jesus’ enemies, the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees and Sadducees as examples of perfect human behavior, attitude, and perspective,…

    thereby seeking to reject and undo what Jesus accomplished in walking among us humans, and what he still seeks to accomplish in inspiring humans across the face of this planet even now.

    If some of us believe that attacking those “conservatives” who claim the name of Christ as their own but would crucify Jesus all over again if he were to return to earth in human form is in some weird, twisted way, attacking “Christians,” I suspect a new reading of the four Gospels might assist them in discovering why that’s not the case.

    But perhaps not. It’s likely their dysfunctions would make it impossible for them to comprehend the message of the Gospels any better than they comprehend that ACTUAL messages of the Old Testament.

  52. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/19/2011 - 10:24 am.

    I think it’s interesting that sooo many comentors here appear eager to dismiss an observation that completely contradicts Bachmann’s public persona.

    I have to recommend: “Republican Gomorrah” by Max Blumenthal. It’s a fascinating study of the personalities that populate the right and extreme right wing of the Republican party. One thing that Blumenthal documents over and over again is the masochistic nature of so many of these personalities. This is a bizarro world where discipline is compassion. In the middle ages this was taken to it’s extreme by the Inquisition wherein torture was considered to be an act of salvation.

    What this story illustrates about Bachmann, is the way her personality is organized around discipline- i.e. punishment. Like all right wing zealots her instinct in any given situation is to punish someone. It’s all about discipline, fiscal discipline, social discipline, values discipline, etc.

    I think the most revealing thing about this exchange is the fact that Bachmann’s only reaction to her erstwhile opponents break-down was to calmly repeat her threat… like she was whipping the woman. It looks to me like Bachmann achtually enjoyed breaking this woman down, or derived some kind of satisfaction from it. Now this would make some kind of sense if they’d been personal enemies of some kind for years, but that’s not the case here.

    I think this is a significant observation. I think over-all it may predict Bachmann’s future. You can say whatever you want about Palin but I think she sunk McCain’s chances when she imploded under intense public scrutiny. Yeah, she still gets a lot of attention but the vast majority of American’s came to the conclusion that she belongs nowhere near the oval office. As Bachmann get’s closer to the presidential run the scrutiny will increase, and the odds of an incident like this happening again and being documented and witnessed also increase. Like Palin she can only play to controlled crowds for so long. This is why she could never win a state-wide election net alone a nationwide one.

  53. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 08/19/2011 - 11:27 am.

    Lance G. (#41) — Your Herbert quote reminded me of one from Bill Moyers, who wrote:

    “One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of of power in Washington.

    “Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and religion couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.”

    Moyers wrote this in 2005. It was true then and seems even more so today.

  54. Submitted by frank watson on 08/19/2011 - 11:43 am.

    # 10 Paul Scott says: “I think we ought to learn as much as possible about the personal qualities of all persons seeking higher office”

    Guess that Obama’s cocaine habit didn’t bother you.

    #27 TJ and #32 M Holt. Thank you for your posting on her positions. Its to bad that most don’t know her positions other than her knowledge of John Wayne birthplace and Elvis’s birth date.

  55. Submitted by Paul Deeming on 08/19/2011 - 01:05 pm.

    Just goes to show she is as two-faced as any politician! I bet “minor” things like getting her home’s cable TV paid for by the State are probably stacked ceiling high in her closet. I have no doubt whatsoever that she would do anything, A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G, to win!

  56. Submitted by Tim Larson on 08/19/2011 - 07:18 pm.

    What I’d like to know is how long is the Mainstream media going to hold the video of Rep. Bachmann’s exceptional display of her Presidential qualifications by hiding in the bushes of a gay rights rally.

    Let’s just be done with her. For God’s sake.

  57. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/22/2011 - 08:20 am.

    //Guess that Obama’s cocaine habit didn’t bother you.

    Well that doesn’t bother as much as his forged birth certificate.

  58. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 08/22/2011 - 11:06 am.

    I like how #47, Tester, feels so free to say Obama has no religious beliefs. I imagine that would be news to Obama. One big problem I have with the hypocritical religious right is that anyone who disagrees with their literalist, born again nonsense is considered nonchristian, evil and headed for damnation. Mr Tester must be the second coming since he seems to know the content of Obama’s heart and I would have thought that only God could know that. Maybe when Mr Tester does his water walking deomonstration I will agree with him.

  59. Submitted by B Maginnis on 08/22/2011 - 11:38 am.

    “Journalist frightend by woman’s steely gaze, responds with worthless “story”.”

  60. Submitted by John Ragan on 08/24/2011 - 11:32 am.

    Bachmann claims to be a Christian, yet she uses fear and manipulation against her opponents. I realize that we all sin and are not perfect. This is just another example of her lack of fitness for ANY political office!

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