February 28, 2005

Hatchet Jobbed

If you're a conservative and a Christian, do you suppose you can get a fair hearing in the City Pages?

The headline for the CP's article on MIchele Bachmann and the rest of the GOP field looking for the nomination in the 6th CD race reads:

Michele Bachmann heads an all-star cast of GOP Christian flat-earthers in the Sixth District
Somebody Say Oh Lord!

Balance? The "Related Links" in the online version are to a Dump Bachmann blog (by a local gay activist who's obsessed over Bachmann for years) and a site showing "photo funnies" including a photoshop of Bachmann standing next to Hitler.

And the article itself isn't much better.

City Pages - Somebody Say Oh Lord!

Sometimes I wonder if the City Pages has computer file with boilerplate text that must begin every reference to conservatives and conservatism?

Read this clip and you tell me:

In fact, she's a rising star in the growing archconservative wing of the state's Republican Party. Her conservative Christian values underscore an agenda that is "pro-family," antiabortion, skeptical of public education, and decidedly jingoistic. A decade ago, Bachmann would have been marginalized within her own party. (Former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson, for instance, has publicly chastised Bachmann in the past.) Now her affiliations with prominent conservatives like Alan Quist and David Strom, not to mention her ties to religious organizations, have put her in lockstep with a powerful faction of the state GOP.

Bachmann's track record in the legislature reads like a parody of right-wing talk radio. She has introduced or signed onto bills that would make English the official state language, halt grants to clinics that perform abortions, make proof of citizenship a requirement at voting booths, and allow stillbirths to be officially designated as births by the state. Bachmann is also the legislator behind the Reagan fetish at the Capitol this time around, proposing that Interstates 494 and 694 be renamed Ronald Reagan Beltway, and declaring February 6, the dead president's birthday, officially recognized.

The old guard within her own party is not impressed. "I wish she would get on with something meaningful," says one GOP insider. "She is definitely not out to unite people. She's throwing out these ideological bombs. She's an obstructionist."

Let's check off the obligatory shrieking points:
  • Is there any conservative that isn't an "archconservative?"
  • Why the scare quotes around pro-family?
  • The article borrows Nick Coleman's conceit that Arne Carlson is a moral authority within the Republican Party in MInnesota.
  • Check out the "GOP Insider" reference. Look for a bull market in anonymous "GOP Insiders", holdovers from the bad old days, when the old "Independent Republican" party of the Carlson years were basically basically DFLers who wore suits.
IIt's hard to know where to start picking apart the strawmen in this piece.
In 2000, she turned her sights to the state Senate, running against Gary Laidig, a 28-year incumbent Republican, in the party's primary. Laidig was viewed as a centrist, and Bachmann's hard-right platform divided longtime GOP diehards. But Bachmann, with a war chest of $43,000 to Laidig's $23,000, won the party's endorsement. [So? Bachmann was a better fundraiser than the lukewarm Laidig, who regarded his seat as a sinecure. Motivation beats inertia. But in the world of the hard left, money that doesn't come from George Soros is a bad thing ]

It was around this time that questions regarding Bachmann's résumé surfaced. ["Surfaced?" Or were manufactured? Follow this section closely] She had a law degree, she said, and claimed to be a tax litigation attorney. [So - does this mean the CP writer has evidence that she had no degree and didn't practice law? ] But opponents said they could find no evidence that she had practiced law. Bachmann sets the record straight by saying she worked in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, representing the IRS against people who underpaid or didn't pay their taxes. She did this from 1988 to 1993. [So if the claim was debunked, why is it in the article? ]

Her law degree, it emerged, is from Coburn School of Law in Tulsa, which is affiliated with Oral Roberts University. [Cue the boogieman!]" She's part of the Jerry Falwell moral majority," says one political observer. ["One political observer? Any one in particular? Just some random stranger who spouts lefty bromides tying Christian conservatives to the dreaded Falwell? ]"That's a legitimate issue if she's running for Congress." When asked about her religous beliefs mixing with her politics, Bachmann responds, "I believe in God. But that is not really relevant."

Nor should it be; can you imagine the City Pages making a Wiccan or Moslem or Buddhist candidate's beliefs a campaign issue? (Other than as hagiographic material, of course?)

See what's going on here? The CP writer is trying to make an issue, not of Bachmann's legal education (there is no issue), but of the irrelevant gossip among unnamed critics of Bachmann's.

Two years later, because of redistricting, Bachmann was facing a 10-year incumbent DFLer for the seat in District 52. By ratcheting up her antiabortion rhetoric, vowing to bring more local control to classrooms, and signing a no-new-taxes pledge, Bachmann defeated Jane Krentz.
The writer seems to imply that Bachmann won despite those stances - like her election is an aberration of some sort.

But what if her career is in itself a rejection of the beliefs that the City Pages and the rest of the local media think are the mainstream? If Bachmann is a bellwether of the state's growing, dynamic conservatism?

Of course, it's Bachmann's social conservatism that makes her a lightning rod for the hard left. The article quotes an interview with Bachman on KKMS, a local Christian station (which is owned by Salem Radio, which also owns AM1280, which broadcasts the Northern Alliance Radio Network. KKMS has no contact with or influence over the NARN's content).

Some politics-watchers in the district, however, aren't sure that issues are driving Bachmann's success. "Voters aren't looking beneath the surface," claims Renee Murray, a Lake Elmo resident who has done some work for the DFL in District 56. "She's bright, attractive, and presents well. I'm not knocking anyone, but we've got a lot of wealthy, affluent people who are busy, and they just see an 'R' next to her name and vote for her." Right. Because Republican voters are mindless lemmings, while the bright lights at Education Minnesota and AFSCME exhaust themselves thinking about their voting.

Look for two years of mindless demonization of aybody to the right of Arne Carlson. This is only the beginning. The left in Minnesota controls the schools, the media, the non-profit community and the three largest cities - and it's scared out of its mind, and regards nothing as beneath ethics to stay in charge.

Posted by Mitch at February 28, 2005 05:39 AM | TrackBack

Once again it's the left's refrain: The majority of people agree with us on the issues. We only lose elections because people don't take time to learn about the candidates and are fooled by our opponents' deceptive and simplistic campaigning. The best example I have seen of this was a local US Congressional candidate here in Tucson who, when asked what went wrong, said (with a straight face) "Most people agree with us on the issues, we just have to do a better job of getting the message out." She had just lost to Jim Kolbe 67% to 33%.
Mitch hits on on the head: the left thinks conservative candidates win despite their views. Therefore The City Pages sees it as its role to "expose" the "archconservative" views of republican candidates... because OF COURSE once their views are exposed to the light of day they will be soundly rejected by the public.
A parody of right-wing talk radio? Let's see: English as state language, stop public money for abortions, holding public schools more accountable, allow mothers who have carried and delivered a stillborn child to record the birth (almost as if we are talking about an actual human being), honor a president who is largely responsible for the freedom of hundreds of millions of people... This sounds like a very mainstream agenda to me, and a winning one at that.
It only looks archconservative when viewed from a lunatic fringe that thinks it is mainstream. So brace yourself for a whole fleet of "Gottcha" articles from CP, Coleman, et. al; Look, look! This person isn't an Arne Carlson Republican! He/she is an archconservative who could only have been elected because his/her constituents didn't understand his/her views.
Conservatives should revel in this articles. Every such article proves that the left still doesn't get it and is completely committed to losing elections.

Posted by: chriss at February 28, 2005 12:11 AM

Ooh...a flat-earther...that's a good one, CP. Maybe next time you'll rack your noggins for 15 minutes to try and compare Bush to Hitler. In the future, try "snake handlers," it's a well worn chestnut with the other bigots. I'm glad the left has given up any pretense of being the ideology of compassion and tolerance...or creativity for that matter.

Chriss is right. Conservatives (or centrists who just like to watch) should sit back enjoy this period of meltdown. CP is a rag, no doubt, but it's still worth a good chuckle.

Posted by: Jerry Leigh at February 28, 2005 02:46 AM

How do you spell "ad hominem?" Meltdown is what liberals do when they cannot win on the merits of their case. I finally stopped reading City Pages. I pick up The Rake instead.

Posted by: Scholar at February 28, 2005 08:26 AM

I pick up City Pages for the cartoons and Savage Love, not for the opinion pieces that appear under a "News" banner. Half the writers there are pale carbon copies of Hunter S. Thompson and the other half are pale carbon copies of the first half. The writing in The Rake ain't much better, but at least they'll send you half-price e-mail offers for some good tickets every now and then.

Posted by: IvanK at February 28, 2005 11:09 AM

I pick up City Pages for the cartoons and Savage Love, not for the opinion pieces that appear under a "News" banner. Half the writers there are pale carbon copies of Hunter S. Thompson and the other half are pale carbon copies of the first half. The writing in The Rake ain't much better, but at least they'll send you half-price e-mail offers for some good tickets every now and then.

Posted by: IvanK at February 28, 2005 11:09 AM

Ironically enough, all my liberal friends in the Cities don't take the CP seriously either - one wonders who in the world their target audience really is?

Then again, I suppose the patchouli-permeated need a paper too...

Posted by: Jay Reding at February 28, 2005 01:13 PM

I sort of expected that "lockstep with a powerful faction of the state GOP." was going to read "locked goose-step by goose-steep with a powerful faction ..."

And as for the attractive bit (yes, she is), could they do a worse job with the color contrast on the CP site if they tried? It makes her look like a friggin zombie.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 28, 2005 01:28 PM

The CP-linked website of Michelle Bachman photoshop stuff is stupid and sophomoric, and I'm not going to dignify it by commenting on it, other than to ponder the following:

So why is it funny for dimwits to insult Michelle Bachmann, and okay for jokers like State Rep John Lesch (66A) to refer to Republicans as Nazis on the DFL Senate District 66 website (okay, he compared Republicans to Hermann Goering (sp?). Six of one, half a dozen of the other...) anyway ? Whatever happened to "diversity" and "respect for others" ?

Posted by: Just Me at February 28, 2005 03:12 PM

This was an excellent City Pages article. I think the "Christian" part of the headline was misplaced - I think the term "theocrat" better describes Bachmann.

Bachmann won in the primary because Laidig didn't work to maintain his seat and Bachmann campaigned hard. I called him to volunteer to doorknock the week before the primary - and got no return call.

I'll agree with you that the "GOP Insider" should be willing to go on the record.

Mitch, it seems as if this piece got you rather POed - to the point you're spelling and grammar is much poorer than is typical for you.

You don't have problems calling moderate Republicans RINOs or Hamsters or whatever else. Seems like it's far enough to call extremists what they are.

Posted by: Eva Young at February 28, 2005 09:59 PM

From the Olive Tree Ministries website:

Understanding the Times
AM980 KKMS – Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN + 60 miles
Saturdays from 9—11 AM - Live!
Sundays from 12—2 PM (A rebroadcast of Saturday)

EY: Why mention KKMS rather than Olive Tree Ministries?

It's telling that Bachmann evaded questions about her connection to Olive Tree Ministries.

Thanks for connecting the dots on the ownership of KKMS and the Patriot.

Posted by: Eva Young at February 28, 2005 10:54 PM

Eva proves the point: when Democrats lose to a Conservative it's because they didn't campaign hard enough. When Conservatives lose it's because voters agree with Democrats on the issues.

Posted by: chriss at February 28, 2005 11:46 PM

How does Bachmann balance her quest for higher office and her parties quest to get Democrats to give in to them on issues that will actually change things? Guess what Bob and Steve already live down the block and they already get naked together at night and do stuff.

I suppose if Bob married Cathy and had 3 children before being true to his sexuality and moving in with Steve we would somehow be better off.

Posted by: Mike Grimes at March 1, 2005 02:40 AM

"This was an excellent City Pages article. I think the "Christian" part of the headline was misplaced - I think the term "theocrat" better describes Bachmann."

Right. Was "Flat-earther" "mis-placed" too?

Leaving the crappy reportage aside, it was no different than calling, say, Barney Frank a "mincing fairy"; it used a lot of emotionally-charged pejoratives. And the link to the site with the Hitler pictures, as opposed to her campaign site, was inexcusable.

"Bachmann won in the primary because Laidig didn't work to maintain his seat and Bachmann campaigned hard. I called him to volunteer to doorknock the week before the primary - and got no return call."

Lots of people campaign hard against lackadaisical campaigns; for example, everyone that runs against Alice Hausman. But knocking on doors only matters if the people are receptive to your message; Hausman and Ellen Anderson and Jay Benenav and BettyMac can pound my door into chopsticks and I'll never vote for 'em. If Bachmann was really THAT out of touch with the district, she'd never have won - or she'd have been a Marc Asch-like one-term disaster.

"I'll agree with you that the "GOP Insider" should be willing to go on the record."

More than that. The CP should have not run the quotes without identifying the source.

"Mitch, it seems as if this piece got you rather POed - to the point you're spelling and grammar is much poorer than is typical for you."

It's more matter of typing on a pink background.

Posted by: mitch at March 1, 2005 07:05 AM

"Flat-earther"... well since she seems to have no clue about evolution and teaching actual science and clings to articles of faith that fly in the face of evidence, yeah, I think that fits just fine.

Posted by: Jeff S. at March 1, 2005 08:07 AM

"or she'd have been a Marc Asch-like one-term disaster."

Given Eva's track record, I bet she forwards that to Asch.

She seems like that type.

Posted by: MNPOL Refugee at March 1, 2005 08:35 AM

I am sixty years old, happily married and have one son who is thirteen. I am terrified by the direction people like Senator Michelle Bachman are trying to take this state and this country. What would Abraham Lincoln think of our party today? I am embarassed by the positions taken by Senator Bachman and equally appalled by the retoric on both sides of the aisle. If we all could tone things down and calmly look at the isues I believe Senator Bachman's views would finally be seen for what they are and in the light of day she would have to go away. Pandering to the fears of uniformed people is not Christian. Jesus never said, " Come unto me, some of you." We need to get serious about real issues.

Posted by: Corbett Johnson at March 1, 2005 10:28 AM

"...Pandering to the fears of uniformed people is not Christian. Jesus never said, " Come unto me, some of you." We need to get serious about real issues."

No, he certainly did not. Nor did he say, "Come unto me, all of you, and feel free to wallow in your sin all you want." I'm pretty agnostic (!) on the political issues, but Jesus called us to repent - and you cannot truly repent without making the effort to do away with the sin in your life. Sadly, in an attempt to be "inclusive" and not offensive, half of Jesus' teaching is left behind.

Posted by: Steve at March 1, 2005 07:29 PM

Flat Earther sums it up well.

Excuse me, Bachmann defeated an incumbent Republican incumbent in the primary before she went on to defeat the democrat.

Posted by: Eva Young at March 1, 2005 09:16 PM

It's been enjoyable watching Bachman hide behind shrubberies and run screaming out of a bathroom this last week.

Now that more and more people are seeing what Bachman is all about, the embarrassment she is causing our state won't last too much longer.

Posted by: Darryl Ungar at April 11, 2005 12:21 PM

Michelle Bachmann is a clown. Instead of whispering "I see dead people" she whispers "I see gay people" and hides behind some bushes. (Ironic I know). She wants to inject religion into our public school system, not any religion of course, just christianity. Michele and Cherie Yucky were historical revisionists where Columbus didnt bring disease to the natives, there is no proof of that. Oh and lets not forget her brilliant "name the stillborn baby" initiative. Even if the parents are unaware, someone witnessing the stillbirth can provide the information for a record of birth. Michele Bachman is the worst kind of religious fanatic. Intolerant. Why the right decides to rally around the Terri Schiavo of the Minnesota State Legislature may never be known.

Posted by: brian at April 11, 2005 12:47 PM

What he said. Bachmann is simply the tip of the iceberg. You people aren't conservatives, you're reactionaries. Actual conservatives hold thoughtful positions based on facts and a sensible philosophy. You guys just parrot propoganda and sneer at what you're told to sneer at, without consideration for the religion, philosophy, or morals you claim to hold dear. And you're just tools of the ultra-rich who are using you to further their goal of robbing the nation blind.

Posted by: Albatross at April 12, 2005 11:39 AM

In our little world out here in Michelle's district, you see very little about any of her more conservative (?) views in the local press or in her campaign literature. " of the most polite and palavering set of mortals on earth. They are like Lanbro the pirate: The mildest mannered men that ever scuttled ship or cut a throat, with such fine breeding of a gentleman you never can divine their real thought."

I believe she gets the Republican endorsement because a swarm of the faithful who have never taken any interest in politics emerge from the church basements for the caucuses. The Republicans who give her a majority - mostly RINOs - aren't lemmings - the ones I know really have never thought about Michelle's favorite issues. They really don't give a damn about gay marriage, or voter IDs, registering stillborn births. The important thing with them is her Republicaness; the rest is just a peculiar but harmless hobby, like dancing on stilts or wearing a hair shirt.

As for the City Pages being fair, they ain't required to be fair. Why would you expect them to be fair and balanced? They are a partisan journal. And, as the rattlesnake said to the little snakes: "Gather around, my children, and see how a brave snake dies."

"What ails thee, father?" replied his children.

"I have been bitten by the editor of a partisan journal," said he, followed by the ominous death rattle.

(The first quote is due to the Miner's Journal of Galena for February 20th, 1830; the second is from that eminent political scientist and philosopher, Ambrose Bierce.)

Blessings on you, Mitch. Your adherence to the official Reppy party line is really inspiring. I thought Earl Browder had a tough row to hoe, keeping to another party line through all its twists and permutations, but you really surpass him. Congrats.

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