Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) gave the Tea Party rebuttal to President Obama's State of the Union address last night. What's been interesting is watching the reactions to her address. Fox News must have decided it bombed as they didn't promote, didn't carry her rebuttal live and they're not discussing it today. Several places have been fact-checking her claims. The most interesting response has been from the teabaggers themselves.
The overall response to her has been negative. Mainly because she spoke into the wrong camera and refused to honor Gabrielle Giffords. The result seems to be that she's solidified the perception that the teabaggers are tone deaf and crazy.
Here's the video in case you missed it.
Teabaggers reaction not so good
Local teabaggers did not rate the self-proclaimed Queen of all Teabaggers speech very highly at all. Actually, they seemed to be quite pissed that she's coopting their movement for her own personal glory.
In addition to the official GOP response from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN) is going to give an alternative response to President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight on behalf of the Tea Party Express, a national group that has heavily promoted her speech. But a major Tea Party group in her own state is strongly criticizing Bachmann’s plans. The Tea Party Patriots of the Twin Cities sent out an e-mail last night saying that Bachmann "does not speak for the Tea Party":
- Please call Michele Bachmann’s Office and tell her that she does not speak for the Tea Party. Michele has announced she will be giving the ‘Tea Party Response’ to the President’s State of the Union Address. The Tea Party Patriots Organization is a grass roots organization. One person has no right to speak for the whole organization.
Aside from this Tea Party split, there is a noticeable rift in the Republican Party over Bachmann’s address. During a breakfast with reporters today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called Bachman’s rebuttal-after-the-rebuttal "a little unusual." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), on the other hand, said Bachmann’s Tea Party response is "legitimate."
Media Matters did the best and most thorough fact-checking. They noted the following:
- Failed Stimulus - the stimulus didn't fail. The economy has been steadily growing under Obama.
- Unemployment spiked under Obama - actually it steadily rose under Bush and Obama's Recovery Act slowed the rate then began adding jobs to the economy.
- Blamed Bush's 2009 deficit on Obama - she simply attributed the 2009 deficit to Obama when Bush is to blame for it.
- 16,500 IRS Agents Lie - this lie was based on guesswork and false assumptions by some other Republicans.
- Affordable Care Act will force people on to government-run health care - there is no government run health care under the it.
- Affordable Care Act doesn't allow for insurance sales across state lines - The AFA allows for it.
- Told the US has highest corporate tax rate lie & failed to recognize that Obama called for lower corporate tax rates.
I noted four additional lies they didn't debunk but have been debunked elsewhere repeatedly.
She told the "Obamacare increases the debt" lie.  She told her favorite cap and trade lies.  She told the lie that reducing regulation encourages the mythical "job creators" to create jobs. She hit another favorite that the US has the highest corporate tax rate in the world.  She also lies in blaming regulations as why our jobs are going overseas.
CNN fact-checked her 16,500 new IRS employees lie and labeled it "at best, misleading."
That's 11 bald-faced lies in 6 minutes. That's just about a lie every 30 seconds. Typical Bachmann.
I'll start with Fox News. Apparently, they didn't think her rebuttal was a great idea and wrote a post about her rebuttal conflicting with Ryan's.
An indication that her rebuttal bombed is that I cannot find her rebuttal on their main page nor on their politics page. That's saying something.
Apparently, Majority Leader John Boehner didn't even listen to her rebuttal:
House Speaker John Boehner said he didn’t catch Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann’s response to the president’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, a subtle snub of the tea party favorite.
"I had other obligations," the Ohio Republican told reporters Wednesday morning.
The NY Times called her rebuttal "rogue" and noted her tone deafness considering both sides "foreswore" the usual partisan bickering for the night:
Representative Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party leader, didn’t bring a "prom date" to the State of the Union address, she didn’t wear the ribbon corsage and she crashed the after party known as the official Republican response. When Ms. Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, addressed the nation with her own, more alarmist assessment of its state, she seemed almost like the telekinetic high school heroine of "Carrie."
Ms. Bachmann defied Democratic and Republican leaders who had scripted a night of unity, courtesy and common purpose. Instead, Ms. Bachmann gave viewers a blast of Tea Partisan fury that served as a rebuke to both President Obama and to the milder, more conciliatory official Republican response delivered by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Real Clear Politics noted her lack of compassion and attack mindset:
Ryan recognized Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering in Houston from a gunshot wound to the head, but Bachmann didn't mention it. Otherwise, both of their remarks were focused entirely on fiscal matters.
The big difference was in tone.
Via Ryan, the Republican leadership took some ownership of the nation's fiscal troubles and vowed to do more to reshape the economy. Bachmann, however, launched immediately into an attack on Obama's actions since taking office.
Locally, Kevin Diaz of the Star Tribune noted that her address indicated "increasing friction" within the Republican ranks and amongst the teabaggers themselves:
"They don't like it that Michele Bachmann is speaking on behalf of the Tea Party," said Toni Backdahl, president of the Tea Party of Minnesota, one of several Tea Party factions in the state.
Diaz and the Strib continue to be incapable of analyzing the factual validity of any Bachmann says. In addition, they failed to note how odd her delivery into the wrong camera was -- they so rarely if ever publish anything critical of Bachmann.
Politics Daily's Matt Lewis accused Bachmann of being boring. He thinks the Tea Party will have a harder time getting the attention it so desires in the future.
Had Bachmann's speech wowed us by making Ryan's remarks look comparatively small, hers might have been a hit and thus become a tradition. Or had the speech been a train wreck, generating the wrong kind of media attention and diverting attention from Ryan, that still might have been better -- in terms of making this speech a tradition. But my guess is it might be even harder for the Tea Party Express to get media coverage for a response next year. Ultimately, Bachmann committed the real unforgivable sin. She was ... boring.
NPR's Frank James noted a "certain oddness to Bachmann's performance" and wondered if it was even possible she made any converts considering her harsh tone. James pointed out her ignorance of history in referring to Iwo Jima:
At one point, a photo of Iwo Jima flashed on the screen when Bachmann referred to the famous World War II battle that happened on that Pacific island to make a point.
Unfortunately, her point was based on faulty information. Bachmann cited Iwo Jima as "a battle against all odds."
Uhhh, actually no. While the fight to subdue Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima was among the bloodiest fighting of the war, especially for the Marine Corps, the odds were very much on the U.S. side.
The battle for the island took a heavy toll, killing nearly 6,000 Marines. But the heaviest odds were against the Japanese who had orders to wage a last-ditch fight to the death and did.
Her description of the U.S. position on Iwo Jima is the sort of statement that might have made the late Sen. Patrick Moynihan utter his famous line: "You are entitled to your own opinion. You're not entitled to your own facts."
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank had this to say:
"She was at it again Tuesday night. She ignored the bipartisan seating plan and placed herself between two other tea party House Republicans. Soon after, she was on air herself, reading out choice slogans: 'failed stimulus ... repeal Obamacare ... government-run coverage ... voted out the big-spending politicians.' It was angry, and at times wrong, but Bachmann has gone far with that formula."
Gawker calls her Crazy Eyes and unsurprisingly didn't like it:
Tea Party zombie Rep. Michele Bachmann delivered a rebuttal to Obama's State of the Union address last night, and besides lacing it with all sorts of nonsense about rising debt and Iwo Jima, she didn't look into the right camera.
The Daily Beast noted that she was cheerily hyperactive in her six-minute speech-cum-PowerPoint presentation. They praised Ryan's delivery and how he avoided the curse of Bobby Jindal.
The same cannot be said of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, the sharp-tongued lady of the Republican fringe who followed Ryan on CNN (but not on Fox or MSNBC) to give the Tea Party’s response to the president’s speech. Wearing her ambition on the sleeve of her royal blue jacket, Bachmann blamed Obama for every terrible thing—"we have high unemployment, devalued housing prices, and the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing," she said at one point.
Joan Walsh at Salon characterized her rebuttal as "a little creepy."