A friend and I were having a discussion last week, and politics crept in, as it usually does. It was a robust conversation, with attempted comparisons between the current Occupy “rallies” and the Tea Parties (he considered them at least somewhat if not heavily fringe), and concerns about the crop of Republican candidates, with particular attention given to Michelle Bachmann. My friend (let’s call him “Robert”) ultimately had to leave, but I subsequently sent him an email with links to information he was bound to find interesting and which would no doubt change his point of view about the Tea Parties, at least.
His response, via email, covered his concerns about Ms. Bachmann, and in particular, his reference to a statement she made, which he originally described as Bachmann “wanting to do away with the entire federal government.” In his email, Robert remarks:
Re: the point about Michele Bachmann: I found it, and it was pretty much as I vaguely remembered it in the discussion at your house. She both did and didn’t take a position, the logical implications of which would be fatal to the Fed govt… The context was a recent debate when she was asked how she would have responded to the young Tea Party guy in CA who asked how much of his money he should get to keep… Her answer: “I think you earned every dollar, you should get to keep every dollar that you earn. That’s your money, that’s not the government’s money.” Period. End of sentence. My mouth dropped a bit, and I remember thinking. ‘Zero money for the government?? Even for MB, that’s pretty wiggy. ‘
A few sentences later, she did qualify the remark: ‘Obviously we have to give money back to the government so that we can run the government…’
My (charitable) interpretation is that the categorical ‘you keep 100 % of your earnings remark’ was just a misstatement… Even so, it does say something about her ideologically driven antipathy to govt.
Robert cites Gawker on this, so I went to the link and discovered two things: first, it wasn’t a few sentences later, as Robert said; she followed up “it’s your money” directly with “Obviously we have to give money back to the government”. Naturally, I didn’t find that on Gawker, but searched out the text of her answer and found it that way.
The second thing is that Robert competely missed the tenor of the rest of Bachmann’s comment, by discarding it, in which she actually says this:
“Obviously, we have to give money back to the government so that we can run the government. But we have to have a completely different mindset and that mindset is: the American people are the genius of this economy.”
I see nothing in any of that that implies an “ideologically driven antipathy to govt.” So there’s that.
Back to Robert’s email and a bit of reiteration. He wrote:
My (charitable) interpretation is that the categorical ‘you keep 100 % of your earnings remark’ was just a misstatement–which would not be uncommon for the woman who confused John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy, and Concord NH and Concord MA. Even so, it does say something about her ideologically driven antipathy to govt.
Oh, Robert. I’ll see your John Wayne vs. John Wayne Gacy and raise you Obama’s “57 states“, “corpsman“, the “Austrian” language, and throw in Joe Biden’s three letter word, “J O B S” for good measure. They’re called gaffes, and everyone makes them. I don’t believe that Pres. Obama really thinks there are 57 states, do you?
Back to Robert’s email:
My charitable interpretation is strained a bit, in view of a remark she made in NH last June when campaigning with a libertarian who was advocating a total one-year moratorium on Fed income tax. MB’s take? According to an account in Forbes: “Bachmann called the notion “awesome” and went on to say that if taxpayers could keep their own money, it would been great for the economy.” To my knowldege, there was no ‘wouldn’t it be nice…but that proposal isn’t very realistic’ language to go along with the “awesome.”
Well considering she was a guest there, she’s a good enough politician to know that it’s not a good idea to call someone else’s idea stupid. In fact, she made reference to, and praised, a similar (and far more reasonable) proposal made by her colleague in the House, Louis Gohmert. And everything else aside, if there were a one-year moratorium on federal income tax for individuals (with that loss of revenue being made up in other ways), it would, in fact, give a huge boost to the economy.
Continuing with Robert’s email (stick with me, he’s almost done):
More broadly, as someone who self-identifies as a Republican, I hate to see the party captured by two particular currents: a) blind and rigid hostility to government–and to tax revenues needed to make it operate. (I am well aware of the standard argument here about there being plenty of revenue, just too much spending.)…[we'll get to his second current--anti-scientism-- in another post.]
Once again, I don’t know of any of the current crop of candidates, or any other leading Republicans, for that matter, who has a “blind and rigid hostility to government”. And if you’re well aware of the argument about there being too much spending, well, what’s your argument against it?
All that said, I’m not sure Ms. Bachmann is the best candidate. I’m glad she’s is in the race. If she ends up being the Republican nominee, I’ll vote for her wholeheartedly. If elected, I think she’d make a decent president. But I’m keeping an open mind, and I hope my friend Robert is, too.
And if he’s not, watch this space for more conversations with him!