Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

January 28, 2011

WHEN DISDAIN MEETS FEAR.... As conservative as congressional Republican leaders are -- and good lord are they far to the right -- they've made it clear they have no real tolerance for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). At the same time, however, the GOP's disdain for the ridiculous congresswoman is matched by the party's fear of her status.

A couple of months ago, for example, Bachmann announced her bid to join the House GOP leadership as conference chair. The party quickly moved to crush her bid, though leaders were careful not to leave fingerprints, and avoided direct criticism of Bachmann in the media.

This week, Republicans were clearly peeved, to put it mildly, about her televised response to the State of the Union address, and took pains to emphasize the fact that Bachmann's remarks were not the official party message. But again, the GOP frustration was largely behind the scenes.

Jonathan Allen reports today that Bachmann's Republican colleagues are embarrassed by her -- they just don't like to say so on the record.

When Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann was named to the House Intelligence Committee earlier this year, one of her Republican colleagues responded this way: "Is that a punchline?" Another simply said, "Jumbo shrimp. Oxymoron."

Neither dared to attach his name to his comment.

Bachmann's Republican critics may be sick of her grandstanding, but they're more terrified of her tea party following.

To a certain extent, some of this is vaguely reassuring. Sometimes, watching Bachmann's craziness, it's hard not to wonder, "Congressional Republicans have to be annoyed by all of this, don't they?" As it turns out, they are, and I'm glad.

But if Republicans had a little more courage, it'd be even better. What are they afraid of?

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) -- who has a long conservative voting record -- said he learned the power of Palin's following the hard way after suggesting she stay out of Georgia's Republican gubernatorial primary on a radio show.

"There was a firestorm in the office for about 24 hours," he said, with people "questioning my Republican conservative credentials" in phone calls.

I'm sure it's unpleasant having unhinged activists throw a tantrum in response to mild criticism, but the GOP needs to realize fearing Bachmann only gives her more influence -- she takes advantage of the chilling effect, knowing that Republicans will face blowback from her minions if her antics draw any kind of rebuke.

Freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) added, "She's got a huge movement. She's got a huge following. I am sure that many politicians and elected officials do not what [sic] to upset that huge movement and that huge following."

The following will only grow if GOP leaders are afraid of her.

Steve Benen 1:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Profiles in Courage!

Posted by: Eeyore on January 28, 2011 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Why not just take the phone off the hook for a day and let the callers cool off? So what if they call to complain? Will they remember this two years from now?

Posted by: Mike on January 28, 2011 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure if the following would actually "grow", but they would certainly become even more pushy and obnoxious in their actions. Which I would actually welcome because the more they bring the crazy out of the shadows and into full public view the faster they might get laughed off the stage altogether.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on January 28, 2011 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that Bachmann, who appears to literally be insane, has a "huge following" is a sad comment on politics in this country.

Posted by: June on January 28, 2011 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

As reasurring as this story may be to those with a predilection towards disliking Bachmann, it is going to be equally considered verifiable proof that the left will stop at nothing to tear down Tea Party heroes. Basically, pictures (attribution) or it didn't happen.

Posted by: Perspecticus on January 28, 2011 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

File under: "Be careful what you wish for"

The GOP has been trying to "out-right" itself for the last decade or more. They thought they had the Ark of the Covenant, but it turned out to be Pandoras Box.

Posted by: bignose on January 28, 2011 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the solution is to equate these unhinged activists with every totalian regime on the planet. Present Bachmann as a "Mubarek wanna-be"---and repeat it until it becomes a Truth.

Do the same thing to every one of these fools---Palin, Limbaugh, Boehner---all of 'em. They lie, cheat, steal, encourage acts of criminal behavior, all for the sake of maintaining and expanding their control over the People.

It is time to rise up against the beast....

Posted by: S. Waybright on January 28, 2011 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Eeyore - Ditto

I just watched a Thom Hartman clip, apparently the Koch bros, the corrupt supreme court members & 200 of the billionaires this weekend are going to have a heavily policed meeting to plot the completion of the corporate takeover of the government.
Hartman has done some good research and states that the citizens united ruling is not legal, the supreme court is not empowered to make a law calling a corporation a person. If anyone here is in the area of that meeting (Calif) I hope they can go and join the citizens protest.

Posted by: j on January 28, 2011 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with June wholeheartedly. Don't worry about the Republican leadership being cowed by Bachmann, though.

All it takes is a some good old fashioned chauvinistic prodding (c'mon, you guys are going to let yourselves get bossed around by a GIRL?) and ye olde white men will find their spines.

Posted by: Taylor Wray on January 28, 2011 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

A small "d" democrat has no particular party affiliation other than the party s/he thinks may represent his/her interests the best!

Trouble for the Republican party became apparent when they let small "m" mobocrats into their big tent!

Participatory democracy need not be filled with hostility and intimidation, but I guess Michelle and Sarah don't see it that way! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 28, 2011 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds to me like she's approaching the level of el Rushbo...

...and, it proves to me that they can't stand to be criticized for anything...

- PonB

Posted by: PonB on January 28, 2011 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't the GOP need her Tea Party minions? Who are the foot soldiers that will man phone banks and staff the GOTV effort? It seems like the Christian right has lost its mojo and I'm guessing that you don't find political volunteers at the country club.

Posted by: AK Liberal on January 28, 2011 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, huge following. Four Senators showed up for yesterday's kick-off Tea Party Senate Caucus.

Posted by: doubtful on January 28, 2011 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

"She's got a huge following. I am sure that many politicians and elected officials do not what to upset that huge movement and that huge following."

I'd like for him to define "huge."

That is the profound predicament the Republican Party finds itself. Yes, she has a "huge following" among the ever more extreme, ever more constricting, ever smaller base. Filtered through the rest of the country, "huge" might not be quite so impressive.

The GOP is slowly strangling itself.

Posted by: SaintZak on January 28, 2011 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

It's not a huge following, but it is a crazy, bellicose following who think that violence against government is a viable and ready solution. These guys are just afraid of the next Loughner targeting them.

Posted by: doubtful on January 28, 2011 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Remember the good ol' days when Republicans claimed to represent "the silent majority"?

[i]Why not just take the phone off the hook for a day and let the callers cool off?[/i]

^^^That question deserves an answer.

Posted by: Tom Marney on January 28, 2011 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't any of these people just say to Bachmann "Have you no shame, maam? At long last, have you no shame?" Geez, people, meet the new McCarthy.

Posted by: es on January 28, 2011 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

And what is this 'huge following" actually going to DO? Other than come to rallies with funny signs? I doubt they will move to your state, so they can vote against you in the primary.
The first Republican who stands up and says "The emperor has no clothes" will win.

Posted by: DAY on January 28, 2011 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Figures Joe Walsh would be pro-Tea Party. If anyone was unfortunate enough to see him on MSNBC's post-game, you saw that he IS such a hack he makes you long for the woman he beat, the deep-Blue Dog Melissa Bean.

Posted by: EdgewaterJoe on January 28, 2011 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

They doon't stand up to bat$h!t crazy Bachmann and her bat$h!t crazy followers. Hmmm, I wonder who they have ever stood up against? Except Democrats, the CBO, the President, facts, reality...

Posted by: ComradeAnon on January 28, 2011 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Rep. Joe Walsh is chiefly afraid that Michelle Bachmann will "turn her pretty head and walk away".

Seems to me, anyway.

Posted by: kth on January 28, 2011 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

this is how a cancer grows. you fear taking it on.. so it becomes more insidious.

Posted by: getaclue on January 28, 2011 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Bachmann is Greg Stillson. Look it up.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 28, 2011 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

What do you call a party if no one shows up?

LA Times: "With the '10 campaign over, few in Senate join tea party"

Can't even get Rubio to join. Hmmm.

Posted by: JJF on January 28, 2011 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

THIS IS NOT reassuring. Not at all. When nobody bothers to stand up for intelligence and rational discussion the people who want to rule by hysteria win. LOOK Nobody is criticizing AZ Senate President Russell Pearce for saying he has the power to let Senators CARRY GUNS on the floor of the Arizona State Senate. Doesn't this worry anyone? I am not reassured.

Doesn't it worry anyone that Arizona in the last year or so, has legalized guns to the point where carrying concealed weapons is as easy as carrying a wallet? And they want to let people carry guns in schools?

Doesn't it worry anyone that Arizona is about to balance its budget by cutting 280,000 people from Medicaid? The numbers are EPIC, perhaps too much for some people to comprehend, but they are still there.

Perhaps you missed SB 1070 the infamous anti-undocumented worker bill. The bill to ban Mexican-American studies?

Not to mention that AZ just cut mental health care for the poor. And is trying to challenge the 14th Amendment in Court by passing bills preventing kids born here of undocumented parents from being US Citizens.

Tucson aside, or because your attention is focused on that rather than on the dangerous trends Arizona is pursuing. Taken together, you should be scared. What the powers that be want for AZ they want for your state and city.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on January 28, 2011 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

republican congressional leadership has all of the characteristics of a cheap suit, which dovetails the snake-oil they promote.

Posted by: H.Finn on January 28, 2011 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, she has a "huge following" among the ever more extreme, ever more constricting, ever smaller base. Filtered through the rest of the country, "huge" might not be quite so impressive.

But, but, but, Fox News says she has a HUGE following. More than eleventy quadrillion people turned out for her Tea Party caucus, and they have the footage to prove it!

Fox News said so! Who are we to doubt them? They're fair and balanced, people!

Posted by: Death Panel Truck on January 28, 2011 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

es @ 1:50 got it right about the "new McCarthy."

The same pattern is playing out with her as did with the junior senator from Wisconsin in the 1950s. Republicans knew he was a lightweight and an embarassment (not to mention a self-destructive drunk), but he had a constituency in the party base and they could not afford to criticize him.

Posted by: osceola on January 28, 2011 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Now congressional Republicans know what most Democrats feel about the NRA.

Posted by: Lance on January 28, 2011 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, republicans being offended by republican ideas... wait, what?

Their only difference is tone.

Posted by: HMDK on January 28, 2011 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, these guys are bigger wimps than the Democrats.

It sure would be nice if people in office had another life they could go to so they weren't so desperate to hang on to the gravy train that their elected office has become.

I believe politicians should be well compensated, but not at the expense of their integrity (if they had any to begin with).

Public financing of elections would do a lot to eliminate the corrupt stench that permeates DC and statehouse all over this country. Elections are inherently public and administered by the government, so there should be no constitutional infringements to limiting political expression to a publicly funded arena, provided that everyone has complete freedom of expression within that arena.

Posted by: bdop4 on January 28, 2011 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

It's good to know that the Dems aren't the only Scared Rabbit Party in town.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on January 28, 2011 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

There's less here than meets the eye.

Republicans in Congress are always reluctant to criticize fellow Republican legislators on the record; Democrats are the same way. There's little, if any, upside to going public with criticism, even of someone as embarrassing as Bachmann.

I doubt that this is about fear particularly; Bachmann does seem to have a sizeable fan club out there, but I don't get the sense that her fan base is anywhere near as large as Palin's or that it has the intense personal loyalty to her as is the case with Palin.

The House Republican leadership had no qualms about denying her a meaningful committee assignment and banished her to the Intelligence Committee, where her ability to speak out will be severely constrained.

Another factor I'm sure the Republican leadership has considered is that, if they start speaking out on the record about her, what will they do when some of the dozen or so of their equally whacked-out colleagues (Gohmert, Broun, Foxx, etc.) spew insanity? Bachmann is just one of a number of loose cannons on that side of the aisle.

Posted by: DRF on January 28, 2011 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

It speaks volumes about Republicans that no one will go on the record to condemn outrageous comments, idiotic statements, and outright lies from its lunatic fringe. This is how a minority party behaves when it needs millions of misinformed, self-destructive fools to win elections.

Posted by: max on January 28, 2011 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner and Cantor must be careful henceforth which sides of their mouuths that they must talk from.

Posted by: Ted76 on January 28, 2011 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Personally, I like the idea of Michele Bachmann being the "face" of the Republican Party and devoutly hope she has enough make-up to last until 2012. The more the Republican Party is tied to the likes of Bachmann, Palin, et al, the worse their losses are going to be in 2012.
I expect Boehner and the rest of the Republican leadship fully realize it, too...

Posted by: Doug on January 28, 2011 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Hartman has done some good research and states that the citizens united ruling is not legal, the supreme court is not empowered to make a law calling a corporation a person.

If Hartman actually said or believes that, he's an idiot. Hint #1; Why do you think they're called the "Supreme Court"? That adjective is a clue. Hint #2: the Supreme Court doesn't -- and didn't "make" law.

Posted by: Calton on January 28, 2011 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

I thought we learned long ago that appeasement just doesn't work. I thought we learned that as a country during the early WWII years (read: Neville Chamberlin). Maybe some of us even learned it while raising our children (as in to leave the child alone during a temper tantrum and behold!!
the storm passes and the child develops some internal strength.
Really. It is disappointing that we cannot seem to remember these things and have to keep re-learning them as a country. These people who follow Palin-Bachmann prefer to live in a fact free zone where no one should question the momentary leader that they idolize.

Posted by: canaldoc on January 29, 2011 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly