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Bachmann overdrive

BY BEAU ELLIOT | JUNE 28, 2011 7:20 AM

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Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., in announcing her “official” entry into the Republican presidential-nomination scrum in Waterloo Monday, stressed (and stressed and stressed and … well, you get the idea) her Iowa roots.

You can only marvel at her effort. Applaud her, even. (Bet you never expected those words from me about Michele Bachmann.)

I mean, it’s quite the trick for a politician to cling to her Iowa roots when she hasn’t lived in the state for 43 years.

But cling she did, telling the crowd in her birthplace (yes, it’s true: She was born in Waterloo) how sad, sad, sad she was when she was 12 and her mother told her the family was going to move to Minnesota.

I wonder how that plays in her Minnesota Congressional District (the 6th, if you’re keeping score at home, not that many do when the Internet can do it for you).

Bachmann also told the crowd in Waterloo, “Everything I need to know I learned in Iowa.”

Well, OK; I’m most likely not going to agree with any of Bachmann’s policies — not that she detailed any in her Waterloo speech, outside of noting she stood for halting runaway government spending and creating jobs. Well, duh — President Obama would agree wholeheartedly with that. (They no doubt disagree with what exactly constitutes runaway government spending.)

But — do we really want a president who learned everything she needed to know by the time she was 12? I mean, come on. What did she do in the ensuing 43 years? Learn nothing?

Brings a whole new meaning to You go, girl.

Bachmann was recently the subject of a scathing piece in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi — described as a “hit piece” by both John Hudson of The Atlantic Wire and Abe Sauer of The Awl.

Having read the piece, I’d have to agree that the prose is well over the top:

“The public has become acquainted with some of Bachmann’s other excellent qualities as a politician — her TV-ready looks, her easy confidence in public speaking, her quick command of a mountainous database of (frequently bogus) facts — but often overlooked is her greatest quality, the gigantic set of burnished titanium Terminator-testicles swinging under her skirt.”

The other problem with Taibbi’s piece is that, as Hudson, Sauer, and many others have pointed out, Taibbi, if not committing plagiarism, certainly walked a fine line. Much of his information — Taibbi never actually went to Minnesota — seems to have come from a 2006 City Pages profile of Bachmann by G.R. Anderson and some Minnesota blogs, including the wonderful Ripple in Stillwater by Karl Bremer. Bremer points out that Taibbi’s characterization of Stillwater is so off that he doesn’t realize Bachmann never carried her own precinct until she moved to a more conservative township.

Sauer goes line by line through some of Taibbi’s piece and compares it with the City Pages article, and, yep, it’s right there. Sauer does point out that Rolling Stone’s executive editor takes the blame for the lack of attribution, which he cut because of space constraints. But as Bremer writes, “Really? Space constraints in an online article? Does this guy think we just rolled off the rutabaga truck?

Having read both the Rolling Stone article and the City Pages article, I’d recommend the City Pages article, even though, having come out in 2006, it doesn’t have any of the latest Bachmann bits. Anderson’s piece, for one, is illuminating, not a hatchet job.

And the thing is, you don’t have to do a hatchet job on Michele Bachmann. All you have to do is quote her and her local Republicans.

From City Pages: “At the end of the day, her politics are like this: Everyone will have a gun, nobody will have an abortion, no one will pay taxes, everyone will go to church, and there won’t be any more pinko liberal teachers in school.” — quoting Gary Laidig, the Republican state senator she beat in 2000.

Well. Sounds like America the Beautiful to me.


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