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Onward Christian Soldier Bachmann

It wasn’t until late Thursday that I got around to reading Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s op-ed in the Strib. Three points:

No. 1

This is the standard Bachmann double down. The “evidence” in her op-ed is the same few half-truths she and her fellow travelers have been peddling for weeks. She has nothing new. So she just repeats her talking points.

No. 2

She is utterly lacking in humility, which is curious since she is so public about her Christianity and I – a non-Christian, — was under the impression that her religion attached great importance to humility. I’ve been covering Bachmann since her first race for Congress. She has made 20 ridiculous factual blunders or exaggerations for every one she has ever found the decency to retract. But in the op-ed, she can find nothing she has said in the most recent matter to retract or for which to apologize.

Please understand, if Rep. Bachmann thinks she has a point about Muslim extremist penetration of U.S. government, she shouldn’t back down just because she has been criticized. But there is an element missing from her personality, and from her Christianity, if she can find nothing to retract or ask for forgiveness.

No. 3

I’m in my 60s now and been covering politics since I was 22. She is the most intellectually dishonest politician I have ever covered. You can’t get her to acknowledge, let alone deal honestly with, inconvenient facts. She has been criticized, denounced or repudiated by her own speaker, her party’s most recent presidential nominee, her own former top campaign aide, the chairman of the intelligence committee on which she sits and by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This goes unmentioned by herself as she refocuses her attack on President Obama and drops the former focus on Huma Abedin. She just moves on. It’s my belief that the standards of intellectual honesty we demand from our public figures has fallen precipitously during my lifetime, but that’s classic old fogeyism, isn’t it? Still, Bachmann keeps finding new lows.

This morning’s Strib contains a response by Eric Schwartz, dean of the U of M’s Humphrey School, to Bachmann’s recent use of innuendo in this matter.

Comments (29)

  1. Submitted by Ross Williams on 08/03/2012 - 09:56 am.

    “Intellectually” Dishonest?

    Every politician is “intellectually” dishonest because they aren’t engaged in intellectual debates. Complaining about this is like complaining that Picasso was “intellectually” dishonest. It has no meaning.

    Bachman’s hardly cares about some low level state department official. She wasn’t changing the subject by attacking Obama. In both cases she is delivering the same message to her supporters, that our government is hostile to them and infested with and controlled by aliens with evil designs. I suspect your problem is not with her intellectual dishonesty, but that you believe the message is fundamentally dishonest. I agree, but we can find the same level of intellectual dishonesty used to deliver messages we believe to be true.

    Take for instance Obama’s plan for “middle class tax cuts” which will give a $8000 tax break to someone making $500,000 and a $600 tax break to someone near the median income of $50,000. Is describing that result as a “middle class tax cut” intellectually honest? No. But it does convey Obama’s message that he is looking out for the middle class. If you believe that message is true, his “intellectual dishonesty” is probably not going to trouble you much.

    Bachman is a brilliant politician as MnPOST’s coverage demonstrates. She demands media attention for her messages and uses any criticism they engender to take the opportunity to repeat and reinforce them. And the media can’t help itself, it just keeps right on being manipulated to be her megaphone.

  2. Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 08/03/2012 - 09:57 am.

    Supply side Jesus

    In understanding Christians of the Bachmann ilk, you have to understand they worship a Jesus made in their own image. The Jesus of the Bible does not fit their world view or agenda, so they have tweaked His message to fall in line with theirs. They worship supply side Jesus, who more resembles Jesus Friedman, or Mlton Christ, if you will.

  3. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/03/2012 - 10:01 am.

    And again

    The scary thing is that it worked — people voted for her.
    Hopefully that will change.

    Are you old enough to remember Tailgunner Joe McCarthy?
    He’s her model (‘I have a list ….’)

  4. Submitted by Lance Groth on 08/03/2012 - 12:34 pm.

    “Amen” 😉

    Couldn’t agree more with the article, or with Alec’s comment. I would say they’ve gone beyond “tweaking”, however, and have layered over something completely alien to the original message, to the extent that they are not “christians” in the true sense at all. If they were to actually meet the one they claim to venerate, I believe the response would be, “I don’t know you.”

    There has been a steady injection of psychic poison into the American collective for quite some time now, and it has spread far and the damage done is great. I don’t believe this can end well.

  5. Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/03/2012 - 12:50 pm.

    Teflon Congresswoman

    They used to call Reagan “The Teflon President” because nothing stuck to him.

    Well, Bachmann’s the “Teflon Congresswoman”. Her behavior will not change unless and until it creates a meaningful and negative consequence for her, and so far, that has not happened.

    In fact, just the opposite has occurred. She actually gets reinforced for her outrageous behavior (in the form of a seemingly endless stream of campaign donations and her ability to continue to be re-elected).

    Too bad most of her fellow Republicans don’t have the cajones to find some sort of meaningful “punishment” that would let her know she’s stepped over more than a couple of lines.

    Basic behavioral psychology says that consequences determine future behavior, and so far, her “consequences” appear to be guaranteeing that she’s not going to be going away or changing her behavior any time soon.

  6. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/03/2012 - 01:00 pm.

    Why do you people hate strong women?

    It’s revealing to the most casual observer that the people who you reserve your greatest hate and vitriol for are women, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin.

    A political anthropologist would be tempted to say it’s related to the natural hate and distrust that beta males have for alpha females.

    But seriously, attacking someone’s religious convictions while defending sworn enemies of the state is a new low for even Minnpost.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/03/2012 - 01:14 pm.

      That’s a strange definition of “strong”

      Someone who deliberately lies, casts spurious accusations, and refuses to back down or apologize when her claims are shown to be lacking in support or outright wrong?

      There are a lot of things I would call that kind of behavior, but “strong” is not one of them.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/03/2012 - 01:27 pm.

      Who here is “defending sworn enemies of the state”?

      The comments all relate to the crazy-eyed invention of “enemies of the state”. Sure there are real “enemies of the state” out there–but the random naming of people without evidence is just asinine.

      And don’t worry Dennis, there are a lot of other wing-nuts that inspire vitriol, male and female.

      By the way, in case you haven’t noticed, arguments on another’s religion have been around since the invention of religion. America was founded on religious freedom and freedom from religion, if desired. The conflation of religion and politics, as is most practiced by right wing politicians such as Bachmann, is a certain way into religious warfare.

      • Submitted by Don Medal on 08/09/2012 - 04:14 pm.


        well, that’s an unexpected assertion – that to criticize Bachmann is to be against strong women.

        Strong honest women I’m for. Strong lying people of either party, I’m not for.
        There are plenty of strong women who I admire. Condoleezza Rice comes to mind.

        Bachmann is a hate monger. She’d be ugly regardless of her gender

  7. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 08/03/2012 - 01:00 pm.

    There is a reason the elite republicans waited to denounce her

    Using your words, “She has been criticized, denounced or repudiated by her own speaker, her party’s most recent presidential nominee, her own former top campaign aide, the chairman of the intelligence committee on which she sits and by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops”. The republican elite absolutely need her to distract the public from the phony republican talking points. The more attention she gets the less they have to try and justify their talking point BS. She serves a very valuable purpose to the republicans. That is why all but the Bishops repudiate her in the weakest possible way. The republican elite waited a long time before they weakly denounced her. They wanted to make sure they got all they could out of her performance.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/03/2012 - 01:53 pm.

      The reason the alleged “elites”

      have withheld a full-throated denunciation of Mrs. Bachmann is because they are treading on thin ice with the party faithful and know they should be worried about alienating the base.

      People like Ed Rollins and John McCain don’t represent today’s republican party any more than Joe Lieberman represents today’s democrat party.

      On the one hand they can say whatever they want about her because the base couldn’t care less what they say or think. But on the other hand they don’t want to go too far and waive their claim to be called a “republican” when that label is convenient for their friends in the liberal press. The Arne Carlson syndrome.

      And the same bishops who call for big government social justice can repudiate her all they want without complaint also and for similar reasons. Real Christian conservatives don’t care what the white-robed socialists think.

  8. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/03/2012 - 01:02 pm.

    Bachmann is both the symptom and the cause

    of the current dysfunction in our governance. Bachmann and her fellow republicans think all governance is just politics and getting elected and staying if office, not to actually recognize and deal with any problems.

  9. Submitted by Rich Crose on 08/03/2012 - 03:06 pm.

    How Innuendo Works

    Timothy McVeigh was a Christian. Bachmann is a Christian. Bachmann is going to bomb a federal building.
    The church is rife with pedophiles. Bachmann’s husband goes to church. Bachmann’s husband is a pedophile.
    Mormons believe having multiple wives is acceptable. Romney is a Mormon. Romney is a polygamist.
    Bachmann is an idiot. Bachmann is in congress. People in Congress are idiots.

  10. Submitted by Robert Hoppe on 08/03/2012 - 05:04 pm.

    Glass houses

    Mr. Black,

    Your outrage with Michelle Bachmann can easily be turned on you. I will paraphrase your indignation;

    He (Eric Black) is the most intellectually dishonest person, you can’t get him to acknowledge, let alone deal honestly with, inconvenient facts.

    Your ridiculous progressive positions you have reported over the years and especially the time you stated communism has never really been tried, prompted me long ago to never buy the Star Tribune again.

    I think the 94 million people killed by communist regimes over the years would disagree with your silly assertion. The Black Book of Communism, written by several European academics and published in France in 1997, details the horrors of Marxist Utopias that usefull idiots supported through the years.

    The standards of intellectual honesty require you to apologize for your failure to deal with inconvenient facts.

  11. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/04/2012 - 10:44 pm.

    Man does this conspiracy run deep. What happened, got bored of Obama’s birth certificate?

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/06/2012 - 10:13 am.


    It’s nice that an article about Bachmann’s lack of intellectual integrity is supported by so many comments that display that same lack of intellectual honesty and integrity. It really fleshes out the issue. All you have to do is criticize Bachmann and these guys show up to prove your point. My favorite one is the one that condemns Eric as a communist! There there’s the one that denies there’s anything dishonest about declaring that the government is: ” infested with and controlled by aliens with evil designs.” Infested? Aliens? Yeah, EVERYONE throws accusations like around ALL THE TIME. That’s just what politicians do.

    • Submitted by Robert Hoppe on 08/06/2012 - 09:31 pm.

      Glad to be your favorite.

      If you choose to read carefully I pointed out that Mr. Black has no intellectual honesty, not that he is a communist. He is dishonest by ignoring the failure of a political system that fails every time it is tried. To ignore this fact and say it has never been tried is intellectually dishonest.

      How many articles have been written about Michelle’s comments, but not one word about Harry Reid’s absurd statement/lie that someone told him Romney hasn’t paid taxes for 10 years. Eric must have missed that story, otherwise it appears that he is a Democratic party hack. Michelle is condemned for unfounded allegations, how about condemning Harry?

      Here is what was actually said.

      “During the 2007-08 Holy Land Foundation trial — the largest terror finance trial in U.S. history — the federal government established in court that the Muslim Brotherhood’s mission in the United States is “destroying Western civilization from within.” The mastermind of the 9/11 attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, had significant documented ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.” Michelle Bachmann

      “The concerns about the foreign influence of immediate family members is such a concern to the U.S. Government that it includes these factors as potentially disqualifying conditions for obtaining a security clearance, which undoubtedly Ms. Abedin has had to obtain to function in her position. For us to raise issues about a highly-based U.S. Government official with known immediate family connections to foreign extremist organizations is not a question of singling out Ms. Abedin. In fact, these questions are raised by the U.S. Government of anyone seeking a security clearance.” Michelle Bachmann
      From letter to Rep. Keith Ellison

      However, Andy McCarthy, an expert on the Muslim Brotherhood and a friend of Power Line, has defended Bachmann’s line of inquiry. He argues that there are two legitimate questions to ask about Abedin. First, in light of her family history, is she someone who ought to have a security clearance, particularly one that would give her access to top-secret information about the Brotherhood. Second, is she someone who may be sympathetic to aspects of the Brotherhood’s agenda, such that Americans ought to be concerned that she is helping shape American foreign policy?

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/07/2012 - 01:21 pm.

        Source: Andy McCarthy

        Who is he? I tried searching for him, and the only references I can find to his “expertise” are on right-wing websites. I would hardly call him a neutral source for anything.

        Plus, he’s a friend of Power Line. Now, there’s a source known for the high intellectual caliber of nothing it does.

        • Submitted by Robert Hoppe on 08/07/2012 - 08:02 pm.

          High caliber of MinnPost readers?

          Not to hard to find, he was only the lead prosecutor of the Blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted in the 1993 bombing of the WTC. He is the author of “Willful Blindness:A Memoir of the Jihad”.

          Andrew C. McCarthy III is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. A Republican, he is most notable for leading the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others. The defendants were convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and planning a series of attacks against New York City landmarks.[1] He also contributed to the prosecutions of terrorists who bombed US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He resigned from the Justice Department in 2003. He is currently a columnist for National Review.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/08/2012 - 09:30 am.


            And thank you for the information. As I noted, a Google search for the name turned up right-wing websites that seemed to repeat the same few quotes.

            I stand behind my comment about the kids over at PowerLine, however.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/08/2012 - 09:52 am.

            former Assistant United States Attorney

            does not make him an expert (other than a self-appointed one).
            His education is in law, not politics.

            Some samples from the Web site you refer to:
            “He has defended the practice of waterboarding as not necessarily being torture, and as necessary in some situations to prosecute the War on Terror[3][4] whilst admitting that “waterboarding is close enough to torture that reasonable minds can differ on whether it is torture”.[5]”
            “favors the abolition of Medicare, which he calls a fraud”.

  13. Submitted by Joe Musich on 08/07/2012 - 03:43 pm.

    brownshirts ?

    Maybe someone should be investigating the threat of brown shirts and crypto fascists in general in government ?

  14. Submitted by Robert Hammarberg on 08/10/2012 - 09:20 am.


    To find out more about about Andrew McCarthy, see:Dana Milbank’s column in the WashPost Aug 8.

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