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Tilting at Windmills

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January 21, 2011

DUELING SOTU RESPONSES.... Congressional Republicans announced today that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the party's official response to President Obama's State of the Union address next week. Given Ryan's often-ridiculous, far-right worldview, he's a pretty awful choice.

But as it turns out, he's not the only House Republican delivering a SOTU response.

We thought the speaking lineup for next Tuesday had been finalized, but there's been a late addition. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) will deliver her own response to President Obama's State of the Union address, to be webcast by the group Tea Party Express next Tuesday.

The group announced Bachmann's upcoming remarks in an e-mail to supporters Friday afternoon. [...]

Bachmann, meanwhile, has been a tea party star for the past couple years. She recently hinted that she might run for president ... and a SOTU response has historically been one way to catapult one's status to the level of legitimate presidential or vice-presidential aspirant (when it hasn't destroyed it, that is).

It's a safe bet that Bachmann's response will be far more entertaining, in a cringe-worthy sort of way, than Paul Ryan's.

That said, I do hope Bachmann's wild-eyed craziness doesn't distract too much from Ryan's official response. He is, after all, an unnecessarily-powerful House leader with a radical worldview, and the capacity to do extensive damage.

Bachmann is a silly, ignominious sideshow. Ryan has actual power. Both clearly bring the crazy, but the latter is far more relevant than the former.

Steve Benen 3:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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I am LOL already. This is gonna be good.

Posted by: sue on January 21, 2011 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking for those of us with long memories, I'd like to hear from Professor Irwin Corey. . .

Posted by: DAY on January 21, 2011 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Gore Vidal recently said, "She is too stupid to deserve a response." Seems to apply to this as well as her political metamorphosis.

Posted by: withay on January 21, 2011 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I will not be surprised if Mr. Ryan spends his time reading selected passages from "Atlas Shrugged" and Ms. Bachmann uses hers to read from her favorite literary work: The Golden Book of Mother Goose Rhymes.

Posted by: Larry McD on January 21, 2011 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Will Bachmann deliver her response in a straight jacket?

She would never get the nomination, but if she does jump in the race I don't see her making a graceful exit. she'll stick around to the bitter end and put on a real freak show at the convention. She''l galvanize the tea baggers and alienate the rest of the country. That will set up a really uncomfortable situation for the Republicans.

Posted by: SaintZak on January 21, 2011 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

...and get ready, this probably means Sarah Palin will be facebooking her own response.

Posted by: SaintZak on January 21, 2011 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

But Ryan brings his own kind of crazy. When people read the Ryan Roadmap there is a tendency to focus on the Medicare voucherization and Social Security cuts but it is the tax portion that is where the true lunacy comes in. EPI just came out with a study that shows that the top 0.1% have their taxes chopped in half under the roadmap. But that percentage goes way up as you add a zero or two. The Roadmap ends individual income tax on pretty much anything but wage compensation (plus some expensed items that count as such). But it exempts from taxation all sources of income for your typical multi-millionaire or billionaire. Capital gains, dividends, interest, in fact all the things that separate your $10 million a dollar MLB pitcher or Hollywood star from the multi-multi millionaire team owner, studio head, and hedge fund managers are not taxed at all. Ever because the estate tax would be eliminated as well.

This isn't about cutting taxes among the "wealthiest" in half, it is about cutting the taxes of the actual wealthiest to zero. Ryan doesn't believe 'Producers' should pay ANY taxes at all, even for the military. All of that gets shifted to the 'parasites'. It is shocking even by wingnut standards. Yet he is treated as some sort of serious voice. The mind boggles. From the man himself:

Summary of the tax proposal:
"Eliminates the alternative minimum tax [AMT].
Promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends; also eliminates the death tax.
Replaces the corporate income tax - currently the second highest in the industrialized world - with a border-adjustable business consumption tax of 8.5 percent. This new rate is roughly half that of the rest of the industrialized world."

In Ryan World capital is self-validating, society has no claims on it, at least not at the federal level. And this extends to its holders and their heirs. Under the Roadmap some Trustafarian grandchild of a billionaire would not pay taxes either, after all distributions from the Trust would typically entirely be the result of now tax free capital gains, dividends and interest. Which seems to stretch the 'Producer'/'Parasite' distinction to just about infinity.

Posted by: Bruce Webb on January 21, 2011 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

"a SOTU response has historically been one way to catapult one's status to the level of legitimate presidential or vice-presidential aspirant."

Okay, I'll bite. Name one, other than Sen. Webb's. And even that didn't end up making him an actual candidate.

It seems far more common that such responses diminish the speaker, sometimes fatally. Jindal's pretty much destroyed his chances of being a serious canditate anytime soon, and he's far from the only one to end up looking smaller, not bigger, after such an effort.

I just hope this doesn't keep Bachmann from running . . . .

Posted by: retr2327 on January 21, 2011 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Gore Vidal recently said, "She is too stupid to deserve a response." Seems to apply to this as well as her political metamorphosis.-

So why'd you comment?

Posted by: Not Gore Vidal on January 21, 2011 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Any Gilbert and Sullivan fans out there? She reminds me of the Mikado's daughter-in-law elect.

Posted by: davidp on January 21, 2011 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure, in this insane political environment of ours, that Bachmann is the less-relevant one. The TPers love her, and her loose-cannon sensibility may mean she'll schedule HER response to conflict with RYAN'S response, setting up an intra-party showdown - who do you watch? Who do you trust more? Who shares your values more? This coud be Bachmann's way of telling the GOP "you can't control me, have influence with a huge chunk of voters YOU want to be able to influence as well."

Posted by: slappy magoo on January 21, 2011 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Michelle Bachmann makes Ryan look like a moderately intelligent undergraduate.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on January 21, 2011 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

retr2327 is right. Jim Webb is about the only person who has enhanced his position giving a response to a SOTU speech. I can understand Ryan being asked to throw himself on a sword for the party. He is a party leader, after all. Bachmann on the other hand is just a mystery. Why would anybody advise any politician to go one on one with Obama? If he can do anything it is give a great speech. Neither Ryan nor Bachmann is even in the minor leagues where Obama is concerned.

The only problem with this whole response thing is there won't be enough time to pop popcorn.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 21, 2011 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Palin will certainly give a "response" as I'm quite sure she's not going to let Bachmann have the stage to herself. Look for TX Gov. Rick Perry to slick his hair back and chime in also.
You know, maybe they should do it like their famous "Read the Constitution" escapade...line up all the GOP Nutjobs and let them read one sentence each from the prepared response. And make them wear pointy hats and shoes with bells on them. And give them big red noses and orange wigs.

Posted by: T2 on January 21, 2011 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm just fascinated wondering, exactly what factions of the Republican Party are represented in this divide? Ryan isn't exactly Mitt Romney, he's pretty tea party friendly himself.

It kinda looks like a division in the tea party between the "pretends to be respectable" division and the "gloats about being non-respectable" division.

Posted by: mcc on January 21, 2011 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Does Ryan's plan to reduce the deficit and eventually balance the budget count as "He is, after all, an unnecessarily-powerful House leader with a radical worldview, and the capacity to do extensive damage."

I see no interest on the left in controlling the spending and trying to avoid national bankruptcy.

Posted by: Mike K on January 21, 2011 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Bachman is probably ticked off that she didn't get the committee assignments that she demanded from Boehner (on strength of her claimed pull with the Tea Partiers).

So Bachman is going rogue, on the model of her most favorite politician ... a certain half-term scandal-plagued governor of Alaska (and sometimes reality TV star). She will not be silenced! American needs to hear her thoughts! Nobody - certainly not some stuffed-shirt RINO - is going to tell HER what to do!!

Viewed from Bachman's position, this is just one great big opportunity. Hogging television time and giving a response on behalf of the Tea Partiers that is INDENDEPENT of the GOP steps all over GOP's leadership preferred media strategy, AND it further burnishes her creditials with the Tea Partiers! It is a win-win for her.

On the other hand, Bachman's mad-bomber approach and demands for tribute and appeasement all goes to show why that GOP house leadership doesn't trust her, and isn't including her in the inner circle of power. The GOP's house leaders require their gang to stay on message - the message that is HANDED DOWN to them - and take their orders from the top. Bachman doesn't do that. She is too stupid, too aggressive, too radical, and too full of feelings of entitlement to settle for "compromises" like that from the party leadership.

I look forward to this.

Posted by: Bokonon on January 21, 2011 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Mike K ... you know what the really interesting thing is about Ryan's plan? It NEITHER reduces the deficit NOR does it balance the budget. Not even in the long run, as you so carefully qualify qualify.

What Ryan's plan DOES do is radically reduce government spending while cutting taxes.

So ... that could be why nobody here is taking Ryan's plan seriously as a way to avoid "national bankruptcy."

Posted by: Bokonon on January 21, 2011 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Those are some heated adjectives you are using, and in abundance--"often-ridiculous, far-right, awful, cringe-worthy, wild-eyed, crazy, unnecessarily-powerful, radical, silly, ignominious." I believe someone dost protest too much. If you are so sure that any of those adjectives are actually accurate, why don't you just relax, and let people figure it out for themselves.

Posted by: BillyBobSchranzberg on January 21, 2011 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

This is a microcosm of the overall reality of what a mess the modern GOP is as it's mainstream-ish preferred leaders are constantly forced to jockey for message control with the whack-job teatards. Think about it: Instead of going from Obama to Paul Ryan, many are going to watch Bachmann to glory in the crazy. The GOP doesn't get how fucked it truly is.

Posted by: 400metres on January 21, 2011 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

so who's going to cover her speech? Oh, I see it will be webcast at Teapartyexpress.com

Gee, I could give a response too and post it on my website. so could anyone.

Posted by: g on January 21, 2011 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

@ DAY:
or norm coleman.

Posted by: mellowjohn on January 21, 2011 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Bachmann is in Iowa today holding a variety of private and public meetings with key R's to test the potential for a run for President. Having her own SOTU reply is just one small part of the master plan.

Of course, she ticked off some key R's by being 90 minutes late for a meeting today, so maybe she'll miss her satellite uplink window, too.

Posted by: zeitgeist on January 21, 2011 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK



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