Bachmann doubles down on "gangster government" claim

Her blithering "Meet the Press" debut should disqualify the Tea Party leader from future Sunday shows, but it won't

Published March 7, 2011 1:07AM (EST)

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (AP)
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (AP)

I don't really blame David Gregory for hosting Michele Bachmann on "Meet the Press." She's flirting with a presidential run, she's a leader of the fractious Tea Party Caucus; like it or not, she's a newsmaker. But now that she's had her "MTP" debut, can we all agree her inability to answer a direct question should disqualify her from the Sunday chat shows? No, I didn't think so. Bachmann will be back, sadly, with her patented glassy-eyed repetition of anti-Obama slurs and falsehoods.

From the moment Bachmann held up a pre-printed flash card to illustrate the supposed $105 billion she said had been hidden in the "Obamacare" bill, it was clear she would do what she always does: ignore the host's questions and give a canned performance. Chris Matthews got a lot of crap from right-wingers for asking Bachmann on election night 2010 if she'd been "hypnotized," because she stuck to her pre-programmed talking points so rigidly it seemed like she was auditioning for a remake of "The Manchurian Candidate." She was exactly the same on Sunday, repeating "$105 billion" and "Obamacare" pretty much no matter what the question.

But Gregory did get her to answer him directly when he asked whether she had second thoughts about labeling the Obama administration "gangster government," or claiming the president doesn't love America. "I don't take back my statement on gangster government," she said. "I think that there have been actions that have been taken by this government that I think are corrupt, thoroughly corrupt. I believe the actions of this government have been emblematic of ones that have not been based on true American values." And when Gregory pressed her on whether she believes Obama has anti-American views," she answered: "I said I had very serious concerns about the president's views," Bachmann replied. "And I think the president's actions in the last two years speak for themselves." You can watch the whole thing, below.

I wish I could say Democrats offered a stirring counter to Bachmann with White House chief of staff Bill Daley's performance right before her interview. But Daley was as bland and uninspiring as Bachmann was wingnutty. He seemed a little hypnotized himself, repeating several times that the president has no ideology. "This is a guy who doesn't look at politics as left, center, whatever," he told Gregory. In the New York Times puff piece last week about how Daley and co. have brought discipline to the White House, much was made of the decision (presumably Daley's) to rebuke Organizing for America leaders who had tried to support Wisconsin's workers in their battle against GOP Gov. Scott Walker. Sunday Daley swatted away "Inside Job" director Charles Ferguson's ire that no one from Wall Street went to jail for their wrongdoing in the 2008 collapse (the high point of last week's Oscars). A former Wall Streeter himself, Daley's role seems to be to reassure our plutocratic overlords that they have nothing to fear from Obama.

Here's Bachmann:

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By Joan Walsh

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Michele Bachmann R-minn.