Michele Bachmann: Chris started it!

The Minnesota congresswoman blames Chris Matthews for that whole "anti-American" thing.

Published October 20, 2008 5:40PM (EDT)

War Room already beat me to the news that Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is attempting to distance herself from that episode of "Hardball" on which she channeled Joe McCarthy, but I can't resist commenting on the way she's making that attempt. 

Bachmann actually told a reporter for Minneapolis Fox affiliate KMSP-TV, "I'm not saying that his views are anti-American, that's not what I said." With a straight face, she said this. Her office also released an official statement saying, "This has all been a political spin version of the children's game of telephone." Which makes me wonder, do any Republicans know about the YouTube

Let's go back to the "Hardball" interview. After Bachmann made a fuss over Barack Obama's associating with people who have a "negative view of United States [sic]," it went like this:

MATTHEWS: If you have liberal views, does that mean you have anti-American views? What's the connection? I don't get the connection. What's the connection between liberal and leftist and anti-American?

BACHMANN: Anti-American is the point.

And then she goes on to say all the stuff you've already read about, up to and including, "Absolutely, I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views," and encouraging the national media to tackle the question of whether individual members of Congress are pro-American or anti-American. Mmkay.

So here's the part I really love about her backpedaling: According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Bachmann argued that it's Chris Matthews' fault for bringing up the phrase "anti-American" in the first place. Because otherwise, she never would have used it. Repeatedly. Like, a dozen times. Having a "negative view of United States" is completely unrelated to being anti-American, see? That mean old Matthews put words in her mouth! And made her keep repeating them! 

Look, usually, I can get right behind blaming Matthews for just about anything wrong with the world, but that is out-of-control ludicrous. I kind of hope nobody points that out to Bachmann, though. A video currently on KMSP's home page reports that since the "Hardball" episode aired, Bachmann's opponent Elwyn Tinklenberg has received more than $640,000 from donors in "almost every state." If she keeps talking, this election might just see more than one "guy with a funny name" triumph over a loony Republican.

By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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