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.