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Tilting at Windmills

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March 13, 2011

WHAT BACHMANN'S LATEST GAFFE TELLS US.... There are different kinds of political gaffes, and most of them aren't especially important. If someone says "South Korea" when he/she meant "North Korea," it's just an example of a verbal miscue, not necessarily evidence of ignorance.

But Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann's latest error wasn't just a slip-up; it's a reminder that the bizarre lawmaker thinks she knows what she's talking about, but doesn't.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire got off to a rocky start on Saturday morning when she misstated a key fact about the American Revolution in a speech to a group of local conservative activists and students.

"What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty," the potential GOP presidential candidate said. "You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord." [...]

In fact, the 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord that marked the first military engagements of the American Revolution took place in Massachusetts. But Bachmann did not correct her error when she referenced the battles again later in her speech.

Bachmann didn't just misspeak, saying one thing when she meant to say something else. On Friday night, she said Lexington and Concord are in New Hampshire, and on Saturday morning, she repeated the claim twice.

In other words, Bachmann was delivering speeches about the nation's founding, repeatedly connecting her vision to that of the framers, and she actually believed her claim about Lexington and Concord. She knew she'd be talking to voters in New Hampshire, and included this talking point on purpose, assuming it was accurate.

I mention this, not to point and laugh, but to reinforce a point we talked about the other day: Bachmann is less a liar and more a politician who isn't quite smart enough to realize how ridiculous she is.

These kinds of examples come up all the time. Putting aside her wild-eyed conspiracy theories -- remember the time she suggested the Census might lead to internment camps? -- Bachmann has a habit of making claims about history that she insists are true, but aren't. She recently argued the Founding Fathers, for example, were committed to racial equality and the abolishment of slavery. Bachmann also thinks Jimmy Carter was president in 1976 (he took office in 1977).

And yet, as she toys with the idea of an absurd national campaign, Bachmann has been described as "very presidential" by GOP activists.

Update: It looks like smintheus at unbossed was the first one on this story, which was eventually picked up everywhere else.

Steve Benen 8:50 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (57)

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Perhaps she's being more specific: connecting her vision of America to the libertarian tendencies of New Hampshire, not the liberalism of Massachusetts.

Posted by: NDR on March 13, 2011 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

The fog of power follows Michelle around wherever she goes!

I can only imagine if I were in a brainstorming session with Ms. Bachmann, she'd only be able to provide us with a bit of a drizzle!

We know her history is a bit hairy. I bet her math is as fuzzy as the Teddy Bear she's most probably had since she's been in diapers! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 13, 2011 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Almost as disturbing was the Minnesota Post's attempt to excuse her ignorance:

Note: The battles at Lexington and Concord, which began the American Revolution, were actually fought in Massachusetts, about an hour south of Hampton Roads. It's a sometimes-confused detail, as there is a Concord that's the capital city of New Hampshire, but that's not the same one as the battle site.


Moreover, although the Post's dateline correctly placed Bachmann in Hampton Falls, NH, its correction referred to "Hampton Roads", which is in Virginia, 650 miles away.

Maybe this tolerance for only a nodding acquaintance with reality is how she got elected.

Posted by: Newton Whale on March 13, 2011 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

This is nothing new for Republican politicians. Whether from ignorance or intentional deceit, virtually all of them spew lies and misinformation on a 24/7/365 basis. Bachmann is just one of the more visible because she's even loonier than most of them.

The newspapers and broadcast media in Minnesota have all refused to address her lies and horseshit, and collectively are exhibit A for the utterly comtemptible degradation of the American news media.

Posted by: bluestatedon on March 13, 2011 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

In addition to her invincible ignorance, the other defining characteristic of Michelle Bachmann is her nastiness and meanness of spirit.

Instead of apologizing for her mistake, Bachmann responded in two posts on her Facebook page and took it as an opportunity to insult both Massachusetts and Obama:

So I misplaced the battles Concord and Lexington by saying they were in New Hampshire. It was my mistake, Massachusetts is where they happened. New Hampshire is where they are still proud of it!
And by the way... That will be the last time I borrow President Obama's teleprompter!

Clueless and classless is no way to go through life.

Posted by: Newton Whale on March 13, 2011 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

My spelling is "comtemptible" too. Ugh.

Posted by: bluestatedon on March 13, 2011 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Compare her knowledge of history with the history book conservatives in Texas are publishing as a text book for school children. They do not deal with facts but with an alternate reality.

Posted by: truthbetold on March 13, 2011 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

The only thing worse than her ignorance are the people who try to excuse it.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on March 13, 2011 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

H.H. Munro ("saki"), the master of the short, short story, always ended with a "snapper"- a clever line that both summed up and amused.

Benen matches saki with, "Bachmann has been described as "very presidential" by GOP activists."

Just as "in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king, " Ms. Bachmann paraphrases with "in the land of the moron, the 100 IQ is "presidential timber".

It is astonishing that her NH audience, (a state noted for both native intelligence and clear thought), did not erupt in loud guffaws. Stupid, or polite? I comment, you decide. . .

Posted by: DAY on March 13, 2011 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Hey! This is a representative democracy we live in, buddy!

The IGNORANT MASSES, a seeming plurality these days, need somebody to represent them too!!

Posted by: chi res on March 13, 2011 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Question: Do Bachmann's constituents take her seriously?

Electing dumb at this level reveals something about her Minnesota district, however, I'm not sure what.

Posted by: bcinaz on March 13, 2011 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Well, here I am, sitting in Stalingrad, NY, so I can understand her confusion.

The "TimberMILF" strikes AGAIN!!!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 13, 2011 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah, deride the poor lady. It is not her fault. When, she attended Winona State University, she was forced, by the Liberal establishment, to take a course in history. Her professor was none other than John Blutarsky, the year before he ran successfully for the US Senate. John Lansing never mentioned that small fact, did he?

I understand in order to pass his class, Michelle Amble did have to attend a toga party.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 13, 2011 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

I have to admit being unable to imagine the mental conditions requisite in an individual who would knowingly entertain the idea of listening to a speech by Hon. Rep. Bachmann, unless compelled or paid (preferably both). Still, my initial question was what the audience reaction to this was. I take it for granted that she will say bizarre things, but was there no one in the audience, or in here entourage who brought her history in line between one speech and the other?

Posted by: jhm on March 13, 2011 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

She is both stupid and lazy. She is also completely un-self-aware. As such, she is a dangerous person, since she will do anything for power but is a completely irresponsible user of that.

Posted by: POed Lib on March 13, 2011 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Sen. John Blutarsky!!!!!!!!!

Sadly, Belushi/Blutarsky, was/is 200% percent smarter than 100% of the Republicans in any office in this county.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 13, 2011 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

She is also completely un-self-aware.

She'll probably be elected president. The un-self-aware rule the world; they've got nothing better to do.

Posted by: chi res on March 13, 2011 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

In her Facebook defense, Bachmann says that NH is "where they are still proud of it".

I read that as an insult to Massachusetts and its residents. Can you imagine a major American political figure--a potential Presidential candidate and a member of Congress--deliberately insulting the residents of one state? Until the current GOP, that would have been unheard of, and would likely have fatally injured a national campaign. Can you imagine the firestorm of criticism of Obama, Biden, Reid or Pelosi insulted the state of Alabama, for example?

I find it astonishing and appalling that Republican candidates don't think twice about making these sorts of incredibly divisive statements. They think it's perfectly acceptable to attack, insult and question the loyalty of entire groups of Americans--whether it be Democrats, liberals, union members and their families, urban residents, the educated "elite", racial groups or even entire States.

Even if one of the Republican candidates were to win election as President, how would they plan to govern when they become responsible for the entire country, not just the white, Christian base and their big business masters?

Posted by: DRF on March 13, 2011 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

The most disturbing thing about this is the fact that there are people that come to listen to Bachmann speak and take her seriously.

Posted by: Gandalf on March 13, 2011 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

On Friday night, she said Lexington and Concord are in New Hampshire, and on Saturday morning, she repeated the claim twice.

What, nobody among her aides and nobody in her Friday night audience pointed that error out to her? The problem appears to go a bit deeper than Mrs Bachmann. On the other hand, doesn't this make her the perfect representative for a certain segment of the populus?

Posted by: eserwe on March 13, 2011 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

They particularly like her story about Jesus opening his leather bound bible to the Four Gospels and reading stories about himself to the masses.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on March 13, 2011 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

The sacrifices that the many are called upon to make for the security of all , remind one that the fragility inherent to our security can also be applied to our understanding .
If an understandable question arises out of an emotion which rests upon the wonder of the self reinforcing certainty struck by the confident and certainty of an undoubtedly dizzyingly wrong statement in support of a well funded effort to misinform and cast doubt upon the third rail of American politics , can an insulting , sneering , and obligatory explanation blaming the listeners rather than the speaker be far behind ?

Posted by: FRP on March 13, 2011 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

I read on another blog that Bachmann is actually quite intelligent, so what she's doing is willfully deliberate and calculated, not stupid and ignorant.

Posted by: msmolly on March 13, 2011 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Dana Loesch, another attractive but completely ignorant and deluded woman, was on The Bill Maher show Friday night and complained about that it was only old, white men that were been considered for the GOP nomination (my first response: why don't you complain to the leaders of YOU PARTY?). When asked for an example of who would be a good woman candidate she came up with (you guessed it): Michelle Bachmann.

Unbelievable. Fortunately, Paul Begala was there to set her straight.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 13, 2011 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

If we are lucky, the reason no one corrected her was that no one was actually listening.

Posted by: martin on March 13, 2011 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Ronald Reagan sometimes confused the actual history of World War 2 with some of his movie roles - has Michelle Bachmann found out a way to induce early Alzheimers? Heck of a way to cast oneself in Reagan's mold.

Posted by: RepubAnon on March 13, 2011 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Five will get you ten that she was in her limo en route to her speech and saw a sign that said how far it was to Concord, NH. In the cobwebby recesses of her overtaxed brain, Bachmann remembered the "shot heard round the world" happened at Concord and assumed it was the same place. I had an abysmally ignorant 5th grade teacher who looked at a painting by Winslow Homer of a sailor on the deck of a windjammer and told us the painter was probably the same person who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey! The writers satirized folks like Bachmann in the musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" when the Lucy character sings: "You see this tree? It is a fur tree -- it also gives us wool in the wintertime." Charlie Brown tries to correct her, but Bachmann-like, Lucy insists she's right. As Charlie Brown learns, the only way to deal with people who trumpet their own ignorance is... ignore them!

Posted by: dalloway on March 13, 2011 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Let's also not forget her repetition of the false claim that Obama's trip to India was costing the taxpayers $200 million a day.

She (and others) believe things if they fit her ideology. Facts that might endanger her ideology are rejected. Since her ideology must be right, any facts that conflict with it must be wrong. Ideology is all.

Posted by: dsimon on March 13, 2011 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I find it quite interesting that MB can complain about something being "buried" and "hidden" in a bill that she had the duty and responsibility to vote on. Isn't that dereliction of duty? Couldn't she or her staff read the bill before voting on it? Is that too much to expect from a highly paid duly elected legislator? And the press and pundits seem to let her get away with her faux outrage and never call her on it. Absolutely unbelievable.

Posted by: Wacky Librul on March 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

We can all get a good laugh at stupid Bachmannisms, but get serious, please. I see a window of opportunity to send her off to Fox News full-time - if she can be steered in the right direction. Running for President is a bad idea. She gets tons of publicity, helps keep her base in a fighting mood, and after someone else actually gets the nomination she goes home to campaign for her House seat (the seat where an excellent Democratic candidate came unexpectedly close to matching her last year). Or... some rumors are reporting that she might run for Senate. That's a great idea. She can run for both President and House, but to run for Senate she has to give up the House seat. And I have to think well enough of Minnesota to believe that a Democrat could beat our nation's leading dingbat.

Posted by: Brownell on March 13, 2011 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

msmolly, I have a yard time believing that Bachmann is a true mental giant pretending to be daft. I know Gretchen Carlson does it everyday but the stuff Bachmann says is just too off to be genius.

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 13, 2011 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I lived in NH for a few years. She might find a few pockets of Bach-Head supporters who will buy her explanation, but the majority of the state does NOT like being confused with Massachusetts. They refer to their Southern neighbors as Massholes. And Massholes are not fond of having other states being given credit for their heritage. New England can be quite tight, but they are as jealous and spiteful of each other as old money siblings, especially when it comes to issues of history and legacy.

I can't imagine this will go well with her in either state's GOP establishment.

(At least she didn't confuse the Free State of New Hampshire with the People's Republic of Vermont. They would have lynched her on the spot.)

Posted by: adolphus on March 13, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

she is too stupid for words, and those who consider her qualified to be President are also stupid. they didn't pay anymore attention to school than she did, and resent those that actually live in the land of FACTS.

Posted by: rikyrah on March 13, 2011 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

For lifelong Teabagging Republicans a triple digit IQ is the attribute of an out of touch elitist who will wreck America whereas the prospect of a high functioning moron running their country makes them drool.

Posted by: LosGatosCA on March 13, 2011 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

It gets her attention. This is the same reason she may run for President. To be on the same stage with legitimate candidates gives her a broad canvass for her views to be painted on. It also gives the national media the illusion of a contest, which means more bashing of Obama.

I would like to see Obama take Clinton's 96 strategy here. Attack early and often.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on March 13, 2011 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

# 1
she is equal parts liar, ignoramus, megalomaniac and demagogue

# 2
I have a theory about her and it is rooted in her megalomania.

She knows her path MUST leave the House of Rep. in order to become the full-on leader she seeks to be. She sees herself as a DOING BIG THINGS national leader. Running for President is all part of the megalomania, yes, but it's also HIGHLY CALCULATED.

It's a way TO AVOID GETTING CRUSHED IN A SENATE RACE and become the national leader that she envisions.

Bachmann is less a liar and more a politician who isn't quite smart enough to realize how ridiculous she is.

Posted by: SteveADor on March 13, 2011 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Just as I always wanted (but didn't, except for one prof) wanted to hear about GWB's illustrious academic career, particularly the MBA part, I would sure like to hear from some of her former coworkers about her work and anything else when she worked as a tax attorney. The tax attorney lawyering skills (factual knowledge of complex codes and applications and the particulars of the case, plus logical thinking) just do not seem to be her specialty.

Oh, don't forget her just about a week ago stuff about all the secret billions hidden in the ACA. I'm sure there's hundreds more examples of her Palin level insistence on non facts.

Posted by: mallen on March 13, 2011 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

And by the way... That will be the last time I borrow President Obama's teleprompter!

Jesus. Words fail.

Posted by: g on March 13, 2011 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Look at all the free publicity her statements have generated. Every news show is talking about her. Every blog is writing about her. The fact that nobody corrected her between fri night and sat. is a clue her stupidity could very well be planned. All Republican voters need to hear is "Bachman", "Republican", "Bachman", "Republican". They do not hear any of the words in between. And that is how they vote.

Posted by: CapeJosh on March 13, 2011 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

It's impossible to overestimate Mickey Bachmann's collosal stupidity. She barely qualifies to be overcome by delusions of adequacy . . . yet she is constantly overcome by delusions of grandeur. She and Failin' Palin are surely identical twins who were separated at birth.

Posted by: Bo on March 13, 2011 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

she is equal parts liar, ignoramus, megalomaniac and demagogue

And look where it's gotten her so far? She and Palin are the perfect candidates for the new GOP. The mighty propaganda Wurlitzer gives her the coverage of a rising star. What an insult. Are the American people equally stupid?

Posted by: rrk1 on March 13, 2011 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

@chi res

Hey! This is a representative democracy we live in, buddy! The IGNORANT MASSES, a seeming plurality these days, need somebody to represent them too!!

Roman Hruska lives!

Posted by: navamske on March 13, 2011 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

@c u n d gulag

Well, here I am, sitting in Stalingrad, NY, so I can understand her confusion.

Stalingrad: alumnus (or alumna) of Josef Stalin High School.

Posted by: navamske on March 13, 2011 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK


Can you imagine a major American political figure--a potential Presidential candidate and a member of Congress--deliberately insulting the residents of one state?

Yes. As you point out, there would be a firestorm of criticism if a Democrat criticized a red state. But Republicans have long sneered at Michael Dukakis and John Kerry's Massachusetts, as well as at Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco. Someone long ago should have pushed back and said, "Hey, San Francisco is part of America too!"

Posted by: navamske on March 13, 2011 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

The Teabaggers Joan of Arc. Good thing for her that our society no longer burns people at the stake.

Posted by: sparrow on March 13, 2011 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I was taught not to make fun of crazy people. It's not nice. Rep. Bachman has a screw loose. Seriously. Just look at her when she looks at you. Sarah Palin is just willfully ignorant, so she's fair game. But I agree that Michelle's on her way to Fox News where they apparently can't tell the difference.

Posted by: buddy66 on March 13, 2011 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

She also had New Hampshire-ite ancestors jumping joyously off the Mayflower straight onto Plimoth Rock:

What's really appalling -- and something nobody mentions, probably in excess of civility, aka "family is off limits" -- is that she's a mother of 5, foster mother of something like 23, and she *brags* about home schooling the lot. She makes a fool of herself in front of thousands, that's her privilege. But what right does she have to produce 28 more fools like her and then dump them on the unsuspecting society?

Posted by: exlibra on March 13, 2011 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Soon all American children will enjoy the same level of education that children get in home-schooled white supremacist or religious fundamentalist households, or apparently that which Michele Bachmann received. Hurrah!!! The culture war is over and the primarily-Republican right-wing white-supremacist religious-fundamentalist side of the 2nd Civil War won. "Is our children learning" yet? Is any of our "adults" learning yet? Welcome to the Third World, America.

Posted by: The Oracle on March 13, 2011 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

"You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord." [...]

No problem here. If the shot was heard around the world, it would certainly have been heard in next-door New Hampshire. And clearly she elided "fired" between "world" and "in," as well as "MA" after "Concord," so as not to appear to be talking down to her knowledgeable audience.

Sorry, Michele. It takes a little time for some of us to appreciate your elegant and sensitive diction. But we're trying.

Posted by: tamiasmin on March 13, 2011 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Several school-aged children attended the event, which was held at the site of a planned private high school."

Please will SOMEONE think of the CHILDREN? Those poor kids have now been poisoned by this vile mis-truth.

And to think, if Bachman had been in Lexington, Massachusetts she would have choked up blood rather than praise the state for its historic connections to the founding of the U.S.A.

Posted by: GP on March 13, 2011 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

I've finally come to the conclusion that Bachmann IS that stupid. No doubt she was elected to the House because her constituents just wanted her GONE...

Posted by: Doug on March 13, 2011 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

The constant repletion of erroneous facts also means she has chosen staff who are as ill educated,a indifferent to reality as she is.

That speaks to bad judgement,or extreme vanity,or both.

Those are not formalities WH need.

Posted by: Marnie on March 13, 2011 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Lexington and Concord? Hell, you could throw in Bunker Hill and New Hampshire would still disdain a trade for the immortal honor of Bennington and John Stark.
Of which Bachmann seems oblivious--but then so are you.

Posted by: Steve P on March 13, 2011 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

At least you didn't quote and link to Gawker which misspelled New Hampshire. Oh well, with 57 states to name, mistakes will happen.

[troll elsewhere -- mod.]

Posted by: Mike K on March 13, 2011 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

There you are, doug. Your babysitters are now blocking my comments again.
Try a mature blog sometime.

[not a single comment of yours has been blocked. you have, however, been warned to cease trolling this blog with your typical red herring commentary that amounts to nothing more than cheap insults - which is the definition of trolling. though you may believe it so this blog is not a venue for your agitprop. also, it is our understanding that you block and delete comments on your "blog" as well, so you must believe there are some circumstances in which moderation is called for -- mod.]

Posted by: Mike K on March 13, 2011 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

Bachmann is the favorite wet dream for our bigoted billionaires.

She draws funding, votes, and attention from the marginally literate and especially those who think they are educated because they sat in school long enough to get an honorable discharge. The Kochs, Scaife, et al don't need to fund her all the time - only when she needs a bump.

These are the people whose belief in the inerrancy of the Bible is exclusively limited to their understanding of the King James Version. And seldom includes the New Testament.

All things considered, Bachmann is a very good argument for a full-on return to the pre-2000 Estate Tax and for swapping out our budgets for defense and education.

Posted by: Dave Porter on March 14, 2011 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

I agree, she is quite ignorant but... think about it. What a ticket! Palin/Bachmann It would be a landslide for the Democrats. Granted, the Democrats haven't really been doing much for the middleclass but at least they aren't crushing unions.

Posted by: jbinvt on March 14, 2011 at 4:35 AM | PERMALINK



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