Political Animal


July 14, 2011 2:40 PM Falsehoods this bold take ‘chutzpah’

By Steve Benen

Unhinged Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann appeared on Fox News last night, and tried to argue that President Obama “has a lot of chutzpah.” Except, she doesn’t know how to pronounce “chutzpah,” so it came out sounding like “choots pah.” (I’m hoping Adam Sandler can write another song to help explain other words in which the “c” is silent.)

And while this was pretty damn amusing, it’s also worth noting that it was less funny to hear the rest of her thought on the subject.

“Here’s the issue. The president doesn’t want to have to be confronted with priorities in spending because he has a lot of chutzpah. He spent a trillion dollars on the stimulus. It failed. He spent a trillion-and-a-half every year on deficits. They’re his. And, also, Obamacare — trillions of dollars. This is his spending. He’s gotta own it and deal with it. […]

“We wouldn’t be in this crisis right now if he wouldn’t have spent that trillion on stimulus and a trillion-and-a-half more than he should have on the budget and now trillions more on Obamacare. But for those trillions in spending, Greta, we wouldn’t be in this mess that we’re in. We’d still be in a bad spot, but nowhere near the hole. That’s why — take the shovel out of the president’s hand so we don’t dig any deeper. That’s what will happen if we raise the debt ceiling and why I am adamant against raising the debt ceiling.”

I have a lot of concerns about Michele Bachmann, but chief among them is her habit of repeating transparent gibberish, and giving the appearance of believing every word.

In this case, the president’s “choots pah” notwithstanding, every claim Bachmann made is demonstrably false. She was wrong about the size of the stimulus. She was wrong about the size of the deficit. She was wrong about the cost of the Affordable Care Act (it actually reduces the deficit, by a lot). She was wrong about the efficacy of the Recovery Act.

And perhaps most importantly, even if the Recovery Act and the ACA never existed, we’d still need to raise the debt ceiling. If President Bachmann were in the Oval Office right now, the need for a higher limit would be unchanged. Blaming Obama may make strange right-wing activists and their misguided leaders happy, but it doesn’t make it true.

The only way we wouldn’t have to raise the debt ceiling in 2011 is if George W. Bush and his Republican allies hadn’t added $5 trillion to the debt and left Obama with a $1.3 trillion deficit to clean up. But it’s obviously too late for that.

Maybe someone should take a moment to show Bachmann this gem, put together by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, showing the actual drivers of U.S. debt over a two-decade span.

Michele, the stimulus and health care aren’t the problem. It’s not a matter of opinion; it’s a matter of reality. It takes “choots pah” to go on national television and lie about it.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Rob on July 14, 2011 2:42 PM:

    Michelle Bachmann will read a chart the day she admits her husband is secretly gay.

  • c u n d gulag on July 14, 2011 2:47 PM:

    Giving Michele Bachmann a chart and asking her to figure it out is like giving a monkey a Rubix Cube and asking him to solve it.

    The results are in:
    "Hey! Bonzo BEAT Bachmann!!!"

  • T2 on July 14, 2011 2:48 PM:

    Michelle Bachmann is running for president of the United States. In her party, the Republican Party, she is currently in first or second place depending on which poll you choose. That tells you all you need to know about the GOP.

  • Eeyore on July 14, 2011 2:50 PM:

    Bachmann reminds me of one of the Queens in Alice in Wonderland (I can't recall if it was the Red Queen or the White Queen) who said "I believe in six impossible things before breakfast."

    Her husband reminds me of a queen, period.

  • DeeCee on July 14, 2011 2:51 PM:

    You know some people don't understand the difference between "debt" and "deficit." They use debt when they mean deficit, such as "the deficit is 14 trillion dollars!"

  • matt w on July 14, 2011 2:52 PM:

    How does she pronounce her name? Mitchell Batch Man?

  • DeeCee on July 14, 2011 2:53 PM:

    I mean the "debt is 14 trillion dollar!"

    THe debt is 14 trillion dollars.

  • DeeCee on July 14, 2011 2:54 PM:

    I need to preview:

    The deficit is 1.4 trillion dollars.

    THe debt is 14 trillion dollars.

  • tamiasmin on July 14, 2011 2:56 PM:

    Chutzpah yet! She's given up on "Obama is Muslim." Now it's "Obama is Jewish." Oy something.

  • c u n d gulag on July 14, 2011 2:59 PM:

    Look, you can't a schiksa to know how to pronounce chutzpah!

    Oy, gevalt!

  • TRNC on July 14, 2011 3:00 PM:

    "It takes “choots pah” to go on national television and lie about it."

    I disagree. Republicans don't appear to have anything to lose by lying on tv repeatedly.

  • zeitgeist on July 14, 2011 3:02 PM:

    the hope has to be that the MSM treats her like they did Palin, rather than with the timidity they usually show Republicans. getting her on national, non-Fox TV with the world watching and having someone actually say "but that doesn't make sense, what about. . . " will be very entertaining.

    it will also be interesting to see how Romney and Huntsman, neither of whom is stupid (evil, mendatious, shameless perhaps but not stupid) treat her in debates. Her ignorance has to grate on them. do they call her on it and risk the wrath of her rabid followers?

  • Trollop on July 14, 2011 3:02 PM:

    I have got to slap that bitch on national television. Really, it would do the country some good!

    Nobody is putting these idiots in their place, this needs to be done!

  • Another Steve on July 14, 2011 3:03 PM:

    Problem with that chart is that the typical deranged Republican doesn't actually believe there's any data underlying the lines on the graph. They think some Democrat just drew some lines on a page to make Bush look bad, so it doesn't prove anything.

  • Abe on July 14, 2011 3:07 PM:

    Oy gevalt. . . *puts hands over eyes* Okay, I'll explain this to the goyishe world one more time.

    Words like:
    Chazak Chasak, v'neeschasek

    Are not pronounced with a [ch] sound as in chalk. Nor are they pronounced with a [h] sound as in hand. The proper pronunciation of this sound is the sound you make when you are hocking up phlegm. This is a sound you hear in German, in Yiddish, in Hebrew, but not in English. See the pronunciation of the name Eichmann in order to hear how this sound is made.

    Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

  • r on July 14, 2011 3:11 PM:

    they lie because they can. there are never any consequences.

  • Jon on July 14, 2011 3:20 PM:

    I'm not sure she's lying. She's just on another planet where facts are optional and logic is more twisty-bendy.

  • SYSPROG on July 14, 2011 3:26 PM:

    Go Trollop Go!!! It's really not JUST that she's an uninformed nimrod that has been bilking the government for years with her farm and company and foster care but that she wants to make SURE that no one else has access to services. Then she babbles on FAUX that she is a 'serious person' and and CNN and MSNBC show clips of her saying this crap. To think that only a few years ago we were concerned with Bush hiring 'newspeople' to help them spread disinformation.

  • Kane on July 14, 2011 3:30 PM:

    Above all else, the base of the republican party desires those politician­s who are willing to attack. It matters little to this crowd if these politicians are often ill-inform­­ed and that they shamelessl­­y make things up in their attacks. What matters most is the constant personal attacks on President Obama. This is what the right-wing wants and demands of their candidates­. Those candidates unwilling to play along fail to gain traction.

  • Steve M. on July 14, 2011 3:32 PM:

    (I'm hoping Adam Sandler can write another song to help explain other words in which the "c" is silent.)

    Well, he's a Giuliani fan, I'm not sure he's going to be up for mocking Bachmann.

  • CarlP on July 14, 2011 3:33 PM:

    Great, now I have to keep an eye on Wikipedia in case someone needs to make Bachmann's pronunciation official.

  • hell's littlest angel on July 14, 2011 3:35 PM:

    I wish people would lay off Bachmann, and her husband.
    Until after she wins the nomination. She really is the perfect representative of modern Republicanism.

  • bubba on July 14, 2011 3:36 PM:

    Has "obamacare" even really begun costing anyting yet?

  • Timmy on July 14, 2011 3:36 PM:

    Don't call her husband a queen. It's an insult to queens like me. Her husband is something else entirely (A jackass? A charlatan? A deluded closet case?)

  • T2 on July 14, 2011 3:38 PM:

    The difference between Bachmann and Palin when they spout gibberish:
    Bachmann sounds like a low level politician
    Palin sounds like a junior high school student.

  • flubber on July 14, 2011 3:42 PM:

    She worked on a kibbutz in Israel in 1974, and has apparently visited Israel many times since. As she says, "I am a Christian, but I consider my heritage Jewish".

    I think she would know how to pronounce chootspuh. Maybe it's all you kvetchers who've got it wrong?

    (I kid, of course).

  • j on July 14, 2011 3:45 PM:

    Bachman is bad, but for the second time in two days I saw a clown to beat all clowns, his name is Joe Walsh, he is a
    freshman rep from Illionois, I don't know who will run against him in the next election, but I would put in a few dollars to rid the place of him. He is so obnoxious I cannot believe my ears, he says Obama is lying about the deficit, that Obama only was elected because he was black, Obama is stupid and all he does is give speeches, and so mych more that my blood is boiling, please folks, if you see any video of him payattention, there is a video going around but on Bashir he just doubled up!

  • Ralph Kramden on July 14, 2011 4:01 PM:

    "I have a lot of concerns about Michele Bachmann, but chief among them is her habit of repeating transparent gibberish, and giving the appearance of believing every word."

    This is EXACTLY why Bachmann is a better (and scarier) candidate than Palin. Palin just looks lost and confused while spouting gibberish; Bachmann *believes* it and can state it with *conviction*. And few news hosts will call her on it because she's so confident.

  • Mamzic on July 14, 2011 4:03 PM:

    You folks are missing the whole point when you keep pointing out how dumb Bachmann looks when you she keeps spouting out wrong facts and/or logic that doesn't make sense.

    She looks just as dumb as Reagan and Bush did.

    The info just released on Roger Ailes, who Bachmann campaign advisor Ed Rollins studied under, lays it all out.

    Ailes said "people don't vote on facts, they vote on great themes."

    And Ailes and his team are good at creating facts the uninformed bumpkins who end up voting Republicon want to believe.

    Reagan had his welfare queens (that factually didn't exist), and Bush had his 2 1/2 military divisions not operationally ready (also factually incorrect) and John Kerry was a cowardly veteran.

    Bachmann lays all the defict and economic problems at Obama's feet, which is also factually incorrect, but it doesn't matter.

    That's what many voters want to believe and hear, and she's telling them what they want to hear, and owns the narrative.

    If nothing is done, many undecided voters will be influenced by the same lies and tctics.

    Pointing out how factually incorrect" Republicons are is not the answer.

    Palying defernse doesn't win.

    Going on offense does, but Democrats always end up playing defense, trying to counter one Republiocn lie after another..

  • Texas Aggie on July 14, 2011 4:06 PM:

    Joe What's-his-face on NBC said right out that Bush owns the debt. He then mentioned that anything five years from now belongs to Obama. There was a graph showing how from 2000 to 2009 the debt rose. And then how it leveled off since then, but it is still above the legal limit.

  • Kathryn on July 14, 2011 4:07 PM:

    Thanks for the comic relief, laughs are hard to come by in the Virginia suburbs lately. At least Cantor is not my congressman but he does inhabit this State... er Commonwealth. If you bloggers haven't seen the Daily Show from last night, try to catch it. It contains tape of Marcus Bachmann and his little girl wife dancing (barf), tape of Marcus's comments on gays (barbarians in his world and he should know)and Jerry Sienfield in person, very funny.

  • jrosen on July 14, 2011 4:20 PM:

    May I point out that the "ch" in "chutzpah" is pronounced like the "ch" in "Bachmann". Also as in J S Bach, and "Loch Ness". Whose monster I prefer.

    Hmmm...cistiv electrodes...Like "slithy toves"?

  • jrosen on July 14, 2011 4:23 PM:

    Just to prove that Jews are truly human: Eric Cantor, as stupid, egomaniacal, and crazy as any goy.

  • Daniel Kim on July 14, 2011 4:43 PM:

    We did have a president who couldn't pronounce "nuclear". Not knowing stuff is no barrier to the White House.

    out dsculdon! Out, I say!

  • exlibra on July 14, 2011 6:05 PM:

    So, OK, so she mispronounced "chutzpah". While one wonders if she knows how to pronounce her own surname (with the same hard H sound, spelt the same way, as "ch"), one can't really blame her. It is, after all, a foreign word and learning foreign languages is less important to Americans than it is to some other people, because the whole world uses English to communicate.

    But what's her excuse for screwing up *English* grammar? Like this:
    “We wouldn’t be in this crisis right now if he wouldn’t have spent [...]

    "tememse Hasse," How do you like *them* foreign apples?

  • Midwesterner on July 14, 2011 11:47 PM:

    We have to focus on her ridiculous views on the debt, not that she mispronounced a word. Some of your audience might be surprised, but in most of the Midwest we don't hear people using Yiddish expressions. I am almost 50 and I probably haven't heard chutzpah in over 10 years. And it was probably mispronounced.

    Criticizing her for this will just make it look like she is being picked on by the East Coast Elites.

  • Anonymous on July 15, 2011 7:28 AM:

    Everry body luvs a good time !

    That is why when in times of no money and rising angst ya'll gotta try our not quite new
    ..................Eat and Dash
    Yes ! SS C'mon Down !
    Now featuring at Michele's , and Mr Bachman's , a brand new menu for an old lingering hunger .
    We all are featuring a pricey little débutante (well worth the dash !) . At the top of every bodies menu is the Question ? If we can't hear you knockin' are you really there !
    No Worries we don't pay , and don't expect you to pay !
    Tonights special entree if you can't beat 'em join 'em
    Lick Your Own Chops
    Mmm so good .
    This goshly dish brings you closer to heaven , because we know cleanliness is next to by goshliness .

    That good time you have been waiting for may be just around the corner from your hungers . Pick up your keening and put down your conscience , and pick on someone who won't make you pay !

    Se Ya'll next Time !

    PS zeitgeist , Thanks ! Better late than never tip on the Captcha controls . FRP