, Salem, MA

May 30, 2013

Our view: Bachmann's divisive politics won't be missed

The Salem News

---- — When politicians go to great lengths to proclaim their decision to leave office has nothing to do with a probe into a scandal nor with indicators that they will likely lose the next election, you can be sure that that’s exactly why they are leaving.

Such is the case with Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann, the firebrand Tea Party darling who announced this week that she will not be running for congress next year. While her most rabid followers may be sorely disappointed, the rest of the nation should be happy. Finally, she’s done a real service for the American people.

Bachmann holds the dubious honor of being a “fact-checker’s dream.” Her misstatements have become legendary in Washington. Now that’s quite a feat.

Glenn Kessler, a fact checker for the Washington Post, had this to say about her:

“Bachmann is not just fast and loose with the facts; she is consistently and unapologetically so. No other lawmaker earned as high a percentage of Four-Pinocchio ratings as Bachmann ... Thus she provided a window into the no-holds-barred politics that has come to characterize modern-day Washington.”

Her misstatements, and bizarre statements, are too numerous to list here. Among them are her charges that a community jobs program championed by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was actually “re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward;” that Obamacare would allow for “sex clinics” and that schools might begin offering abortions to students; and that the Obama administration planned to abandon the dollar for a worldwide currency.

Even on small matters, she couldn’t get it straight nor admit she was wrong. During a campaign swing through New Hampshire, she stated how happy she was to be in the state of Lexington and Concord, where the “shot heard ’round the world” had been fired. When told that “shot” had actually been fired in liberal Massachusetts, she argued she was right because New Hampshire still had the revolutionary spirit.

What set Bachmann apart from other extenders of the truth was the masterful way she rallied supporters — particularly the far Christian right — into a feverish fit. Her view that Satan is trying to undermine our nation via gay marriage, abortion, and Islamic jihad, and that “spiritual warfare” is required, certainly drew approving applause from some on the far right.

But the majority of people don’t see things quite so black and white.

In a televised speech this week, Bachmann went to great lengths to distance herself from a probe into alleged misspending by her 2012 presidential primary campaign. Nor did she put any credence into indications that Minnesota voters have had it with her.

The fact that Minnesota lawmakers recently rejected Bachmann’s position on gay marriage certainly shows that she is not in step with the rest of her state. And last year’s election results, in which she barely beat her liberal opponent, indicates her time is pretty much up.

Bachmann represents some of the worst qualities of Washington’s divisive politics — a person who holds extreme views, throws out false accusations, can’t get their facts straight and won’t admit when she’s wrong. We’re glad to see she’s seen the writing on the wall.