Jan 302011
Official photo of Congresswoman Michele Bachma...
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Article first published as Michele Bachmann’s State of the Union Tea Party Commercial on Technorati.

TeaPartyHD, the television and Internet network responsible for the unseen camera and teleprompter that Michele Bachmann looked toward while delivering her rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address, finally posted their video of the congresswoman’s speech on Friday. And yes, she’s looking squarely at the camera.

So now, with a little luck, this will be the end of media coverage of the strange off-angle shot aired on CNN. In the big picture, who really cares what camera Michele Bachmann was looking at? The gaff made the speech a bit odd to watch, but it really could have happened to anyone. This aspect of the Bachmann story has been given far too much attention — so much that nobody’s talking about the insaniTea of her message.

First off, to call Bachmann’s speech a “response” or “rebuttal” to the State of the Union is to completely ignore everything she said. She didn’t deliver a response; it was nothing more than a rerun of the same fact-free Tea Party commercial we’ve all seen over and again, ad nauseam. It is on this inane content where criticism for the Bachmann slideshow should be focused.

Bachmann wants Americans to blame President Obama for unemployment, so she shows a nice red and blue chart depicting unemployment rates by year. According to Bachmann, the spike in 2009 is Obama’s fault. Of course, she failed to mention that we were hemorrhaging jobs at a rate of 600,000 per month when he took office, and that the economy was in a freefall stemming from the Bush orchestrated bank collapse, but what the heck . . . it’s all fair in politics.

The congresswoman then hit the tried-and-true “attack the Stimulus” chord. The “failed stimulus,” as she referred to it, gave America nothing more than “a bureaucracy that now tells us what light bulbs to buy.” This is a great tactic: just make up your own story, completely devoid of truth, throw in some exaggeration (the trillion dollar stimulus), play upon people’s emotions, ignore the facts, arrive at a hyperbolic conclusion, and BAM — the falsehood lives on. Keep repeating it, and you will gain believers.

This works well so long as the audience just buys the bullshit without checking any facts. But if people have even the slightest inclination to think for themselves, to actually understand the situation, the bald-faced nature of Bachmann’s nonsense shines through. It’s just too bad that so many people don’t care that the Stimulus actually staved off total collapse of the economy — that it added as much as 4.5% to the GDP, saved or created as many as 3.3 million jobs, kept unemployment from climbing to 11.5% or higher, and gave tax cuts to 94% of Americans. If they took the time to know the facts, they’d understand that the biggest problem with the Stimulus was that it was too small.

But the truth doesn’t always play well for the political goals of the speaker, so politicians and pundits are often forced to turn to propaganda — fact selection that results in lying by omission. According to Ms. Bachmann, while there had been “unacceptably high” deficits under the Bush administration, these “exploded” under Obama. She illustrates with a graph showing huge blue bars that tower above the short red Bush deficits, and she assigns all blame for the spending increases on President Obama.

Bachmann’s graph appears to be accurate, but like an iceberg, what’s seen on the surface doesn’t accurately reflect all that’s hiding below. And since the congresswoman doesn’t really want people to recall that her tallest blue bar, the one for 2009, actually reflects President Bush’s budget through October, or that it included much of the $700 billion “bailout” that was passed under Bush, she conveniently leaves these details out. And so what if she failed to mention that those little red bars didn’t include the spending for the two deficit-expanding wars that President Bush chose to keep off the budget. If President Obama didn’t want the billions in war expense reflected in his budget, he should have kept the costs hidden.

But as disingenuous as is Bachmann’s Tea Party spin on jobs and the deficit, there’s really nothing more egregious than the distorted fantasy of fear mongered hype she spewed regarding healthcare reform. In Bachmann’s words, “Unless we fully repeal Obamacare, a nation that currently enjoys the world’s finest healthcare might be forced to rely on government-run coverage that could have a devastating impact on our national debt for even generations to come.” What a crock!

Between Tea Party and more mainstream Republicans, there is no piece of legislation more illegitimately maligned than the Healthcare Reform. Their fallacy starts with erroneous claims about the quality of the American healthcare system, one that consistently produces outcomes inferior to other developed nations, and it always extends to outright lies about the nature of the legislation that was passed.

The truth of the matter is that “Obamacare” is not “government-run.” It’s actually an extension of the public/private system currently dominant in the U.S.. And as far as costs go, it’s designed to reduce them. In fact, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), it will reduce the deficit by $230 billion. And although that doesn’t solve the problem, at least it’s a step in reducing the costs of a system that now outspends the average of the developed world by more than two to one.

Bachmann is right about one thing regarding healthcare, it will bankrupt the country if allowed to continue on its present course. But the issues driving that dynamic are actually made better under “Obamacare,” although not to the extent needed — that would have required the “public option,” but the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats made sure that didn’t happen. There was no way they were going to do anything to cut into the record profits of the medical insurers and Big Pharma.

Our nation faces serious problems, and President Obama’s State of the Union was light on specifics regarding how he will address them. But unless the American people want more poverty, more debt, more concentration of wealth, fewer jobs, lower wages, and a healthcare system that puts the insurers above the patients, they will do with Michele Bachmann’s “response” what they do with all fecal matter — flush it and forget about it.

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