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After ten days of headlines about how the national GOP has to change its conservative program and leadership or disappear--Republican leaders are dying to change the subject. "Please! The news cycle is only supposed to last 24 hours! We've got to get all these stories off the political media, now--the stories about how we lied to our own supporters about our chances and popular support, lied about how we 'believed in' Mitt Romney, lied about how we represent all of America. If we read one more true story about how we've shrunk to become 'the party of angry white conservative men'--we'll just SCREAM!"

Desperately trying to avoid, they must force that narrative off the front pages. And so: it's back to Benghazi! Before the election GOP top priorities were "jobs, jobs, jobs," and "repeal Obamacare"...That's all gone, forget that, erase it, those were Etch-a-Sketch "top priorities"...

Instead of the economy, the top national priority for the GOP (this week) is to form a headhunting committee in Congress aimed at discrediting "guess who." This time they're going to try to frame Obama for misleading the public about the circumstances surrounding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

They won't succeed, the public will recognize it as diversionary crap even if the media won't. But Michele Bachmann is on board for this particular diversionary crap.

And that represents a departure for Michele. Usually she's leading a conspiracy theory charge; this time she's agreeing to come along as a follower. (The leader here is, I guess, Senator John McCain.)
(CONTINUED)

During the run-up to the election, Michele presented herself as "bi-partisan" and focused on the economic interests of her constituents. (Yes, she did. That was her pitch, here in Minnesota. I don't make this stuff up.) Those were Etch-A-Sketch positions, too. Her first high-profile outburst since re-election has nothing to do with her district or constituents.

Instead she returns right away to the national forum--by joining this latest GOP effort to "get" the President. (She's just issued a long statement accusing the Obama administration of presenting a "false narrative" about events at Benghazi. See the link below.)

Over the years Bachmann's been careful to distance herself from the establishment Republicans. Why join them now, on this Benghazi thing?

After the last election cycle, Michele sought a leadership position in GOP House majority. And she demanded a seat on a committee with real policy making authority, a place where she could do some real damage on taxation and budget issues. But the GOP leadership denied her all that and instead shunted her off to House Intelligence Committee. (In Bachmann's view, a kind of Siberian exile.)

At the beginning of November I went out on a limb and suggested that once the conservative Republican majority was returned to Congress, it would be difficult for its commanders to deny Bachmann a voice in the GOP House leadership and one of those seats on a primo committee.

The GOP did keep their majority in Congress and the red states returned nearly all of Michele's tea party caucus colleagues. (One of those Tea Party Caucus colleagues, Pete Sessions, was just appointed to chair the powerful Rules Committee.)

And I'm still out on that limb, regarding my prediction of more post-election power for Bachmann. At this writing, she's still trapped on the House Intelligence Committee.

But she doesn't want to stay in that trap. And that may explain her decision to return to the headlines via a McCain White House conspiracy theory (instead of doing what she usually does: floating a White House conspiracy theory of her own making.)

McCain notoriously denounced Bachmann on the floor of the Senate for alleging that the Muslim Brotherhood had 'deeply penetrated' the White House foreign policy apparatus. The adverse publicity and press led her to back off the accusations, pronto. (She now claims that she had only been "asking questions.")

John McCain was excoriating her for doing the kind of thing that's made her more influential with American conservatives than John McCain. Michele Bachmann attained personal fame and national influence by catering to the paranoid fantasies of American conservatives; by running to the right of the GOP leadership. GOP leaderships don't like it, when junior GOP figures run to their right--it embarrasses them, casting them as comparative cowards, moderates, and compromisers in eyes of the conservative voters.

Very often GOP leaderships will punish junior politicians who embarrass them that way. A GOP leadership can dead-end an embarrasment's career via obstruction--or (as with Bachmann) deny plum posts. But the current GOP leadership has never been able to entirely marginalize Michele Bachmann. That's because the forces that continue to back her are national: the Christian Right, the tea party, the national conservative media. With that kind of backing, Bachmann has successfully resisted pressure to turn her into a GOP "team player," subordinate to the House leadership.  

But it seems to me that she's now convinced that she can no longer do an end run around the party leadership by relying on those national forces alone. That is how I interpret Bachmann's decision to return to the headlines, post-election, as a team player on the "get Obama via Benghazi" expedition. My guess is that Bachmann now believes that she can't get the positions she wants without lending her support to senior leadership.

Bachmann's "team player" support is politically valuable. Via right wing media, her conservative name recognition and credibility remains high and positive. She's still the darling of the Christian Right and the tea party, two pillars of the shrinking Republican base that continue to strike fear into the hearts of her GOP rivals. And via her regular conspiracy mongering, Bachmann has earned terrific credibility with nearly every right wing nut in the United States.

So--if she chooses--she can deliver the enthusiastic support of all these constituencies, bases that instinctively distrust the leadership of establishment Republicans. And supporting the leadership in an effort to discredit Obama will cost her nothing; it's a chronic goal for her backers and supporters.

Bachmann came to power as demagogue in part by distancing herself from establishment GOP. (Recall, for example, her decision to give a Tea Party response to the State of the Union address as an alternative to the official Republican response.) Will this effort to present herself to the GOP House leadership as a team player be sustained? Will it be successful, if her goal is to win a post of real influence in GOP policy making?

I don't know. I'm still out here on a limb. And I hear "sawing." And dammit--I look forward to falling; to getting this one wrong. Because we do not want Michele Bachmann to occupy a position of real power in this next Congress.

LINK:
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/...

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Comment Preferences

  •  They Don't Seem Capable Of Learning..... (15+ / 0-)

    from their mistakes.  Their Benghazi conspiracy theories didn't help them win the election 11 days ago.

    Where do they think this is going to end up?   They haven't been able to tie it to Obama.  Are they trying to impeach the CIA?  The State Department?

    Benghazi was 2 separate attacks at 2 separate locations....the consulate & the annex.  The consulate was under State Dept control.  The annex was 1.2 miles away & under CIA control.

    The consulate burning appeared to be a protest caused by the Mohammed video according to Libyans there at the time.  The annex burning where Ambassador Stevens died appeared to be a more sophisticated terrorist attack.  

    There was a protest & a terrorist attack.  Who do Republicans think they are going to impeach?  The entire State Dept?  The CIA?  

    •  Sadly, I don't think it matters. They are frothing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IndieGuy, Ckntfld, SherwoodB

      and obstructing by force of habit at this point.  Maybe just to keep their crazy supporters all hyped up?  Maybe because they have no governing ideas - besides tax cuts -  and have to distract from that?  And keep fundraising?

      One thing I know, the Petraeus testimony did little to cool the fever swamp hysterics of some.  I passed by a Fauz Newz tv last night and guess who was the distinguished guest?  Eric I-spoke-with-an-FBI-LEAKER-about-an-ongoing-High-Level-FBI-investigation-and-kept-it-to-myself-for-10-days Cantor.  The corner logo was "Cover Up" and the chiron text under Fuckface's puss was "White House Story Changes Every Day".

      Maybe it was a repeat from before Petraeus' testimony but it sure looked same-old same-old to me.  I also saw Asshat Rep King on CNN last night.  I'm certain he wasn't saying "We got it all wrong.  The WH played it smart re sensitive intelligence while chasing down the bad guys.  Ambassador Rice deserves our apology."

      IF they can hold the House in 2014 by riling up their anti-science, anti-society, anti-Obama nutjob constituents, their conspiracy shit will have worked   :o(

      The GOP says you have to have an ID to vote, but $ Millionaire donors should remain anonymous?

      by JVolvo on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 11:27:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Michele Bachmann is a national joke (12+ / 0-)

    She represents exactly the whacky, fact-free, fear mongering hysteria that even moderate Republicans are beginning to push back on. What the House leadership does with her will be very telling in terms of where the party is going. If they put her in a position of authority, they are doubling down on stupid. Embracing her would be to their detriment since it's completely opposite of what their party leaders have been saying post election about needing to rein in the conspiracy fringe of the party

    She's always a soundbite away from being a total embarrassment to them. If they don't deal with her accordingly, they will end up with even more egg on their face. Her jumping on the Benghazi bandwagon shows just how ridiculous the whole bandwagon truly is.  

    "Compassion is the radicalism of our time." ~ Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama -7.88, -6.21

    by Siri on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 11:00:47 AM PST

    •  Agreed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bill Prendergast, Siri

      Doesn't add much credence to the Benghazi hype with wild eyed Michele jumping on the bandwagon.

      In fact, the more she injects her vitriol, the more McCain, Graham look like the partisan hacks they are.

      I for one encourage her to call as many press confrences as possible.

      "We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." Louis Brandeis

      by wxorknot on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 01:53:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Staying with the Benghazi story, and not dealing (4+ / 0-)

    with the bigger jobs & fiscal cliff issues will cost them more seats in 2014.   Folks are paying attention----they know who is destroying our country....

  •  MN election (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill Prendergast, nellgwen, Ckntfld

    I think that if they did not have the anti-gay marriage thing on the ballot she might have gone down in flames. The jerks that wanted that to pass were the same ones that love her. Luckly the rest of the state was sane. Maybe next time

    He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice. Albert Einstein

    by Cairns on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 11:35:28 AM PST

  •  The Queen of White Tea Returns (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill Prendergast, JBraden

    Republican leaders are so desperate to find something -- anything -- upon which to hang their "Obama should not have been reelected" hat that they are culling the tabloids and right wing conspiracy blog sites in search of kernels of scandal to serve as the basis for their faux outrage.

    Enter Michele Bachmann, the self-annointed "Queen of White Tea" and champion of reality-devoid rhetoric. Michele's maniacal pursuit of nefarious activities within the Obama Administration is 40% demagoguery, 20% paranoid delusion, and 40% the result of being an ignorant dumb ass.

    Let us pause now for a moment of SCIENCE

    by labman57 on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 01:30:36 PM PST

  •  Bill, I several times supported her opponent in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill Prendergast

    part, well because she's not just a loon but a dangerous loon, and in part to give you a vacation from having to write about this loon. Sorry it didn't work out. We were ALL so hoping:)

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 01:55:35 PM PST

  •  Remind me never to visit her district (0+ / 0-)

    No-one close to being in their right mind would vote for the nut-wad blithering idiot, therefore her district must be overrun with raving lunatics. Q.E.D.

    Maybe one day the Fourth Estate will take their jobs seriously. Or not..

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 03:12:14 PM PST

  •  Memories (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill Prendergast

    I like to look at the glass half full

    I remember the first time I Michelle was brought to my attention- the college kid we had as summer time help showed me the following "Crooks and Liars" entry

    "Bachmann has quite a thing for Bush, apparently. This press release from her campaigning days reads more like a diary entry for a 12 year old who got to meet her Tiger Beat teen idol:

    I have never been in the Presidential limousine before so I was a little unsure what to do when the limousine stopped at the custard stand. I wasn't sure if I should exit with the President or get out of my side of the car. Karl Rove told me I would exit out the door on my side after The President steps out and someone would open the door for me. I could not believe I was discussing what flavor of custard to order with the President of the United States!"  
    Then he told me how she ran to keep lesbians out of bathrooms or something I wish i could find that article -  

    I miss you Ben!

    I'd love to have seen her go and I'm sorry for the people in her district but she's helped to elect more Democrats in other districts - and she's always good for a laugh

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