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Mar 25 2009

The Bullheaded Bullhorn

It was just yesterday I put up a post about Michele Bachmann’s “armed and dangerous” shenanigans. In what is for her perhaps a new record, today she’s got people hopping mad over a new outrage, with her questions to Geithner and Bernanke about the constitutional basis for the bailout. As usual, the first question is about Bachmann’s intelligence.

Can someone please tell me how this moron got elected in the first place? I was just watching her “try” to grill Bernanke and Geithner about the AIG bonuses. They were ridiculous questions too, like “where in the Constitution does it say you are authorized to distribute money to blah blah blah..”. WTF kind of question is that?

As much as I’d love jump on the bandwagon and blame this on Bachmann’s lack of any brain power, there’s actually something a bit more interesting going on. An interview with her in the MinnPost describes it, in a stunning piece of self-awareness on Bachmann’s part.

In an interview with MinnPost after the hearing, Bachmann said, “My intent to the line of questioning is legitimate because I have a number of constituents that ask me ‘Can they do this?’”

This is the point at which Bachmann reveals that she isn’t acting as part of some plan. She’s not trying to fulfill some agenda. She’s simply the final stage in a dogwhistle clarification and amplification apparatus. It works like this.

  • The right-wing message machine decides which fear they’ll play on this week.
  • They code their message to get past the majority of media filters, the people who don’t quite want to ask, “What kind of xenophobic crap is this?” without being very sure of their ground.
  • The chosen spokespeople, the ones who can be trusted to remember the right words, go out and speak.
  • Their voices are picked up by the timid media and rebroadcast ad nauseum by the radio, newpaper and television empires that were built for just this purpose.
  • Voters hear what they’re supposed to hear–nothing in particular or the confirmations of their beliefs, depending on their affiliation and closely held fears.
  • Some of these voters are certain (and right) that Bachmann shares their fears, and they go to her for help. In the process, the coding of the message is lost.
  • Bachmann opens her mouth on camera or microphone, and the message is broadcast in the baldest terms possible.

It’s a very simple system. It’s beauty is in its inevitability. Until the Republicans are willing to disavow Bachmann or stop using dogwhistles, we only have to listen to her to hear the what they’d rather we not quite hear. Not that this is an easy job, but it’s worth doing.

Let’s see how it works in practice. Everyone remembers Bachmann’s lovely statements about investigating Obama and the rest of Congress for signs of anti-Americanism. Those were made in mid-October. What happened in the middle of October?

Over the past few days there has been a concerted McCain campaign effort to paint Barack Obama’s tax policies as socialistic in nature. On Friday a surrogate for the Arizona Republican took the argument to the next overheated level, declaring as fact that Obama a socialist himself.

Oh, right. That was when McCain and Palin were objecting so strenously to Obama’s statement that spreading wealth (as opposed to the concentrating we’ve been doing) was a good thing. It didn’t take many steps, or many days, to go from that to Bachmann channeling McCarthy. With her in the picture, the subtext became the text.

The “armed and dangerous” comments have an obvious precedent in recent calls for “civil disobedience” and revolution against changes by the Obama administration. The sentiments Bachmann is broadcasting date back further to Palin inciting violence against Obama, with the change being that he now is the administration (and thus the government for those who still believe Bush’s claims to executive power). There’s additional evidence that the message is being heard and rebroadcast without its shroud of deniability, aside from Bachmann’s jaw flapping.

So, what’s behind the questions about the constitutionality of Congress authorizing spending? Well, there’s the obvious push by the Republicans to redefine deficit spending as a bad thing, including the claim that it will “bankrupt” the country (which, considering the etymology of the word, makes me laugh very hard). But the direct connection to constitutionality is a bit harder to parse.

Anti-American could translate to unconstitutional, of course, but I think there’s more to it than that. I suspect that this comes from the anti-tax fringe. We certainly have enough local representation, in the form of Robert Beale (Papa Day) and his cronies. One of the fruitbats favorite claimed defenses when they’re charged with not paying is that there’s no constitutional authority for the government to collect taxes.

Okay, so maybe it seems like a stretch, but don’t forget that Beale’s pastor, at his prosperity gospel church, is the guy who faced IRS investigation for endorsing Bachmann from his pulpit. No, I believe in the Bachmann bullhorn. Expect a rash of tax “protesters” to stop paying any day now.

Bachmann said so.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Kelly McCullough

    I’m never sure which theory of Bachmann voters is scarier: That they’re actually paying attention and voting for her anyway because they approve, or that they’re voting in total ignorance of anything beyond the R after her name and are voting by affiliation.

  2. 2
    Stephanie Zvan

    Eh, I wouldn’t worry about it. They’re both out there.That helps, right? :p

  3. 3
    JLK

    See, now here’s where I reveal my position as way out in left field….This shit reinforces my belief that this country is just too damn big, and should be split in half, or into regions. Because half of us believe that we should be a liberal, progressive country where everyone is given a chance and greed is not allowed to run rampant, where we pay taxes in exchange for government protections and services that allow us to freely pursue our happiness. The other half wants their tax-free, rampant greed-fed wealth in a theocracy where women know their place, where guns are widely available and encouraged as a means of justice, and where Social Darwinism (without admitting to the Darwin part) is the founding philosophy. I wonder which half would fall into chaos first, if given the chance to rule their own territory.Oooh……I feel a research experiment in the making….now if only I could get IRB approval…

  4. 4
    Stephanie Zvan

    JLK, when I disappear from the internet, know that it’s entirely your fault. Any moment now, someone is going to come into my office and ask why I’m crying. When I can’t do anything but giggle at them, they’re going to take me away for a very long rest.Good luck with the IRB.

  5. 5
    JLK

    LOL.Did you see that reality show Kid Nation? That’s where I just got my inspiration from. lol

  6. 6
    Stephanie Zvan

    Nah. I read Lord of the Flies and attended junior high. I thought that was about enough.

  7. 7
    Please don't hurt me

    I go to the grocery store, Target, the office supply store, the Subway, the gym, the gas station, etc. etc. in a zone that is culturally, economically, and in every other way typical of Bachmann’s district, even though only half of those venues are actually in her district (which starts near my house). I can answer Kelly’s question: Yes, there are a fair number who vote just for the R, but when I see guys standing around in the locker room at the gym cheering Bill O’Really? on Fox (there’s a TV in the locker room for some reason) and when I hear the shit that comes out of their mouths when they talk, and so on, I can tell you that most of these mullet-headed morons like Bachmann a lot because she’s our own local Sarah Palin but more conservative, and whiile they would probably trust her more if she was a man, they are aware of her politicsw and are quite satisfied that she represents them.

  8. 8
    Joshua

    I’m not sure Bachmann’s question about Constitutionality is anything as complicated as you make it out to be here. It seems plausible to me that she just had constituents ask her this and she didn’t bother having anyone on her staff do the research before asking the question herself. So Bachmann is still an idiot but isn’t necessarily the window you make her out to be.

  9. 9
    Stephanie Zvan

    Joshua, that’s pretty much exactly what I’m saying happened. But the idea had to come from somewhere. Most of the people who voted for Bachmann (and the few who have access, since she’s not exactly known for meeting with constituents) are not the kind to debate the constitutional underpinnings of legislation. They’re much more likely say, “You can’t do that because it will ruin everything!” than, “You can’t do that because it exceeds your constitutional authority.” These aren’t spontaneously occurring questions.

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