The history of ‘frugal socialists’

It turns out Michele Bachmann’s new catchphrase “frugal socialist,” which she used in a not-so-subtle shot at presidential rival Mitt Romney yesterday, was not introduced by the Minnesota Congresswoman.

The University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics blog (one of MinnPOTUS’s favorites) takes a look at the history of the phrase and finds that it’s been used to describe everything from the British Liberal Party to former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn:

“Who, other than the two people involved, can say what really happened in that hotel suite, for which the ever-frugal socialist DSK reportedly paid a mere $3,000 a night?” – Daily Mail (August 25, 2011)

Smart Politics notes:

So will decrying “frugal socialism” become Bachmann’s new catchphrase as she enters into the next crucial eight weeks before the Iowa caucuses?

Perhaps, but, the half-life of catchphrases in politics can be short-lived.

Just ask Democratic Missouri U.S. Representative Emmanuel Cleaver, who borrowed the phrase “Satan sandwich” earlier this summer in reference to a House deficit-reduction compromise plan.

The plan passed and the phrase disappeared.

Now, while Smart Politics is not suggesting Representative Bachmann or her campaign were aware of previous usages of the phrase, she may want to reconsider any thoughts she may have of ordering in bulk “End Frugal Socialism” t-shirts for her campaign website.

Because Herman Cain is likely to come up with a phrase that is just as memorable over the next 24 hours.

Devin Henry can be reached at

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