Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 23, 2010

BACHMANN'S 'TEACHER'.... The New York Times had an item the other day on Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and her plans for the next Congress, some of which are pretty ambitious. Reader C.W. reminded me of the significance of the last two paragraphs:

For now, [Bachmann's] plan for the caucus "is to start weekly classes on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights," inviting everyone from Supreme Court justices to legal scholars to speak.

"As we're studying every week, let's say for instance the commerce clause, then as the legislation comes before us, we can apply through the grid of the Constitution the actual legislation that we're looking at," she said. "This is a tremendous real-time forum to be able to discuss these issues ahead of time, prior to the vote, in regard to principles of the Tea Party."

When asked who'll be lead these "classes," Bachmann tends to mention the far-right members of the Supreme Court -- who may not be interested in an unpaid teaching gig at a separate branch of government -- and an evangelical activist/Glenn Beck buddy by the name of David Barton.

Who's David Barton? He became a celebrity in the religious right in the '90s, serving as a pseudo-historian trying to convince fellow activists to reject the separation of church and state. Objective analysis of Barton's materials found glaring factual errors -- which often happens when someone pretends to be a historian.

More recently, Barton helped write the absurd Texas curriculum standards, despite his lack of credentials; became a faculty member at Glenn Beck's "university"; compared Tea Party activiststo Jesus Christ; and was the subject of a fairly devastating Keith Olbermann segment.

But that's really just scratching the surface. Check out this recent report from the Minnesota Independent, and this fairly devastating critique from People for the American Way.

And remember, as far as Bachmann is concerned, this guy is qualified to "teach" members of Congress about how they should interpret the Constitution.

Steve Benen 4:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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I just read through "David Barton: Propaganda Masquerading as History" by People for the American Way. I suprized this wing nut Barton does not yet have a job with Fox.

Posted by: robert on November 23, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

You know, if Bachmann wants someone to teach about the Constitution, I hear there's a guy who used to do that at University of Chicago living right down Pennsylvania Avenue from her office. She might try giving him a call.

Posted by: biggerbox on November 23, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

If they need a textbook, how about "U.S. Constitution For Dummies," or maybe "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the U.S. Constitution" - if those are too advanced, maybe they can watch the Schoolhouse Rock videos...

Posted by: delNorte on November 23, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Because they couldn't find a CONSTITUTIONAL SCHOLAR? You know an EXPERT in the field? Or is this another 'we are members of Congress so therefore we are experts in EVERYTHING?'

Posted by: SYSPROG on November 23, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is very strange that a siting congresswoman would admit she doesn't know shit about government and needs remedial lessons on the contents of its foundational documents.

Minnesota must be a very strange state. I wonder if their surgeons need to know basic human anatomy before they are licensed.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 23, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Bachmann is a deliberate distraction placed in the path of normal politics. People only have so much time and her antics like those of Beck only serve to clutter up the bandwidth so the important stuff does not get reported - like AZ cutting back transplants to save money.

Everytime any Dem says anything it should be tied into increasing taxes on the über rich. Hell, even Buffett now agrees with that.

So lets get to it folks.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on November 23, 2010 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

I'm continually surprised that someone taught Bachmann how not to choke on her own bile.

Freaking mouth-breather. What the hell is wrong with Minnesota, anyway? How did this looney toon get re-elected?

Posted by: Rochester on November 23, 2010 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

An excellent post that is very much in the Steve Benen manner, and which nicely encapsulates the terrible state of American leadership on the GOP side of the aisle, from Aramis at the fabulous "Barkers and Rubes".


Posted by: Mark on November 23, 2010 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Given that it's Bachmann, I'm genuinely surprised to find that she would consider even Scalia fit to offer instruction on the Constitution. I had her imagining the right wing of the court sitting in the student section, dutifully taking notes.

Posted by: Matt on November 23, 2010 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK


From the beginning of the "Bush" tax cuts, Buffett has always said the rich do not need tax cuts and, while he appreciates it, he says his secretary gains little from it.

Posted by: IntelVet on November 23, 2010 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Next up for the new GOP majority: ethics classes taught by Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff, climate science taught by James Inhofe, human rights taught by Dick Cheney, and dance class taught by Bristol Palin.

Posted by: ameshall on November 23, 2010 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose it's asking to much of Bachmann to have opposing points of view represented at these "classes". God forbid the incoming Republican freshmen should also be exposed to explanations of the existing long-standing judicial precedents and jurisprudence on these Constitutional issues.

Posted by: DRF on November 23, 2010 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Why not, most jobs are like this, aren't they? I think the captain of the Titanic was leading a workshop on safety at sea when the ship struck the iceberg.

Seriously, the founding fathers never thought of having minimal qualifications in place other than age and country of birth for members of the House of Representatives? When did we start on-the-job training programs for elected officials? We are really paying these people to attend remedial civics classes?

I would support Bachmann's proposal for the entertainment value alone. I'm thinking a cross between "The Breakfast Club" ("you mess with the bull and you get the horns") and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (The constitution? Anyone? Anyone?)

Mr. Hand, meet Mr. Boehner. Perhaps you have already met.

Posted by: broken arrow on November 23, 2010 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

In other news, the sun rose in the east this morning, and will set in the west this evening.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on November 23, 2010 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

No wonder she's so loony. She studies it.

Posted by: JoeW on November 23, 2010 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

To those who truly BELIEVE, Rep. Bachmann's efforts will simply be the icing on the cake. How could anyone call a Teabagger dumb when said idiot is "studying" the Constitution? So what if the "teacher's" only contact with the Constitution was on a visit to the Smithsonian? He KNOWS what the Founding Fathers meant!
The fact that one would get a better perspective on the Constitution by reading something written by those who participated ("Federalist Papers? How much is a year's subscription?") would also mean that there's a chance that the Teabaggers might discover that something they BELIEVE is in the Constitution, isn't.
Remember, we're not dealing with facts here, only beliefs. By avoiding the actual study of what Franklin, Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Gerry et al thought; then the Teabaggers are free to BELIEVE that what their "expert" tells them is factual. So, BELIEVE they will.
Until they run into that ol' brick wall of reality, and boy, is THAT going to some crash!
I should add that I don't look forward to their discomfiture! No, no, nothing such as that! What I'm anticipating is their complete mental breakdowns; not unlike the stockbrokers in the '20s who shot themselves because they simply couldn't survive in a world of which they weren't the center.
Which, if you'll pardon me, describes the Teabaggers to a "T".

Posted by: Doug on November 23, 2010 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

OK folks it is now clear that the Republicans will have to find somebody other than Sarah Palin to run for President in 2012. As hard as I looked I couldn't see her in the Dances with the Stars audience. Apparently the 1/2 term governor isn't a good enough mother to show up to her daughter's dance competition. My guess is she was warned that Bristol wasn't going to win and well she doesn't want to tarnish her image by being around a loser.

Posted by: Dances with the Stars Viewer on November 24, 2010 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Barton is David Irving wrapped in a confederate flag. Another fucking lying parasite, bilking the dummies and betraying his country.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on November 24, 2010 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

The methodology of these so-called experts on the Constitution is breathtakingly simple. You begin with the conclusions you wish to draw and then you go on a treasure hunt to find phrases in the writings of the Founding Fathers that you think can be patchworked together as your "proof."

Posted by: candideinnc on November 24, 2010 at 6:16 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Rep. Bachmann might try reading the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers. Oh I forget, Sarah Bachmann (sic) does not read.

Posted by: Marc on November 24, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

You can’t teach the Constitution you can only interpret it. Ofcourse you can teach false interpretations.

Posted by: Jim Keating on November 24, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

I am not surprised by the choices because MB isn't exactly a rigorous scholar herself and has not interest in a non biased speaker. Heck even if she got a Supreme Court justice, even Scalia or Thomas or Alito- to speak, she might find that some of her stands aren't going to fly either. And God forbid a ray of light hits her dark alternate universe.

Posted by: ET on November 24, 2010 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Someone should have explained the commerce clause to these asshats before they passed the Obamacare mandate and tried to tie forcing citizens to spend a portion of their disposable income on a private and mostly unregulated service into "commerce"

Posted by: getaclue on November 24, 2010 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK



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