A Few Words on the Michele Bachmann Phenomenon


So I just had the displeasure of reading Matt Taibbi's now infamous "profile" of Michele Bachmann in Rolling Stone. Suffice it to say that the article is hyperbolic, poorly reported and completely devoid of intellectual value. Instead of serious discussion (seriously, every quote is from one of her political opponents, who obviously have NO AGENDA WHATSOEVER), Taibbi offers this:

Michele Bachmann, when she turns her head toward the cameras and brandishes her pearls and her ageless, unblemished neckline and her perfect suburban orthodontics in an attempt to reassure the unbeliever of her non-threateningness, is one of the scariest sights in the entire American cultural tableau. She's trying to look like June Cleaver, but she actually looks like the T2 skeleton posing for a passport photo.

Charming discussion. Did I mention the article is chock-full of casual misogyny?

Levi Asher of Literary Kicks takes Taibbi to task in an excellent discussion of the article's failure as journalism. I recommend that you read the whole thing, which includes lovely quotes from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons (I know!), but here he captures the crux of my feelings:

By telling us that Michelle Bachmann, who appeals strongly to many Americans, is simply "crazy", Matt Taibbi is actually telling us a few different things at once, none of them reflecting the message he wants to transmit.

First, he's letting us know that he doesn't have an even basic understanding of why Michelle Bachmann is popular, and why some smart people in this country take her seriously.

Second, he's letting us know that he doesn't think it's important to have a basic understanding of why Michelle Bachmann is popular. She's beyond discussion. To any Rolling Stone reader who might have ever found Michelle Bachmann appealing in any way, Matt Taibbi has nothing to say but "talk to the hand". These readers, presumably, are beyond discussion as well.

The fact is, the progressive media are caught in a shell game when they expend all their energies on fact-checking Michele Bachmann.

Her particular brand of inflammatory rhetoric is just far enough out there to distract from the serious issues plaguing the Republican Party.

So what happens when election time rolls around? Someone else, someone more hateful but less observably "crazy", gets the nomination, by which time the left has wasted 12 months trashing someone who is not a viable political candidate, no matter how many times the mainstream media say she is. The end result will be that the mainstream Republican Party gets a free pass for their heinous tactics in this congressional session, while bloggers and commentators continue to focus on purposefully created red herrings.

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