Archive for the ‘Michele Bachmann’ Category
My beloved home state is represented by two presidential candidates at this early stage in the 2012 Campaign. In last night’s debate in Iowa, they sniped and pinched, and tried to win their way into a new role in the campaign. Bachmann as a front-runner, and Pawlenty as a still-running.
I don’t know if those goals were accomplished. That’s for Republicans to decide. What did happen was this: Minnesota came out looking nasty. And that is not acceptable. Come on.
Another thought brought up by this debate, but going far beyond just last night reminded me of a comment left by a reader on a previous post, marking an important distinction about “politicians” like Michele Bachmann. It has been ringing in my ears of late. He said:
She is not a politician, nor is she interested in politics, at least not as a proper end but rather as an expediency or as a merely intermediate end. In other words, she doesn’t want to be a politician or achieve political goals. Her legislative record in the MN Senate or the US Congress is, well, almost non-existent. Sure, she holds opinions that are related to politics and she talks about them in front of media outlets, (most of her opinions seem to be about debt and marriage), but she hasn’t made an effort to treat these issues as political ones, ie, she hasn’t taken part in efforts to author, co-author, or pass legislation. If a politician is as a politician does, then is Bachmann a politician?
This is a real issue that needs to be answered for the GOP, and the Tea Party. Most of the candidates are “politicians” and the rest are business savvy/job creators, which is okay at the end of the day. But neither group seems interested in government and politics–if you want to be President you should have an interest in policy and government and a basic awareness of how the government operates.
At least half of these candidates don’t, and most of the one’s that do (Paul, Pawlenty, Huntsman) seem destined not to be the nominee. The rest seem interested in “politics” as means to something else. This is why you can have Michele Bachmann defending her record in the legislature as purely one of obstruction rather than anything related to policy–she has no policy interests. Liberty, unfortunately, is not policy–and light bulbs legislation is not an issue of liberty. Likewise, Francis Schaeffer is not a government role model. You can admire him all you want, but if he is a foundational building block of one’s world view, why do you want be President? Schaeffer, one’s opinion of him aside, is not interested in a government of laws, but a government of God’s law. He is not interested in civics.
Instead of questions about how to create a better government through the government, we have a national debate where Bachmann fields questions about being a submissive wife (the moderator’s fault for asking it) but it just allows Bachmann to field non-political, non-government related issues. This is not just a Bachmann problem either. Herman Cain still finds himself on stage, talking not about politics and policy, but religion. After having (maybe) learned his lesson when he announced he did not like and was afraid of Muslims, he just passed off a question about Mormons. If the conversation does turn to government, it is too often about the favorite cure of the Right–the Constitutional Amendment. Amendments apparently cure everything, even issues that are not real issues, like the debt ceiling. The Balanced Budget Amendment isn’t passing, folks, just like the past 10 years of trying to pass a national gay marriage ban has been a waste of time. Are these amendments anything but non-issues designed to draw public attention away from the fact that too many of our political leaders do not actually care about policy? Policy changes take compromise, and move the state slowly. That sentence seems totally at odds with the Republican Party of 2011.
I know this is not a GOP problem, or a new problem. Its an election cycle, and its very early at that. Eventually someone will be forced to discuss the actual reality of a thing called US government and what one will do when in the Executive Office. And it is of course important to go through the ‘getting to know you’ stage of a presidential race. But something seems to be in the air around this flock of presidential candidates–and the folks waiting in the wings, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Rudy Guilianni–I fear aren’t going to bring enough to balance out this problem.
What does it mean to be unwilling to compromise? At any cost, it seems, the GOP in the US Legislature are simply not going to waiver on their demands, and it might have some serious consequences. Maybe. Possibly. This wasn’t always the case and it hasn’t always been a GOP problem, but something has changed this time around with the GOP. David Brooks wonders what’s happened to the Republican Party:
Moreover, many important Democrats are open to a truly large budget deal. President Obama has a strong incentive to reach a deal so he can campaign in 2012 as a moderate. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, has talked about supporting a debt reduction measure of $3 trillion or even $4 trillion if the Republicans meet him part way. There are Democrats in the White House and elsewhere who would be willing to accept Medicare cuts if the Republicans would be willing to increase revenues.
If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred million dollars of revenue increases.
The party is not being asked to raise marginal tax rates in a way that might pervert incentives. On the contrary, Republicans are merely being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures that are themselves distortionary.
This, as I say, is the mother of all no-brainers.
But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.
This is pretty spot-on, in my opinion. The Democrats are in a position of willingness to compromise–for whatever reason, political weakness or political savvy or just wanting to be done with this to move on to their issues, who knows–and the Republicans can really get incredible sacrifices from the Democratic Sanctuary of Holy Welfare Programs. So why won’t they do it? Brooks offers several reasons that may be behind the stubbornness: refusal to accept the logic of compromise, a willingness to disregard scholars and experts for no reason at all, a lack of moral decency in the casual flaunting of enormous national risk. These are all reasonable arguments, and there is something to each of them in this debate. But they are applicable to any debate such as this. There must be another reason.
I think the real nature of the problem is much more simple. The GOP has realized it is on the upswing in the past two years or so. The Tea-Partiers, or whatever we are calling this new firebrand of conservatism, have evangelized the party and turned its political values into cocksure capital T Truth. Why would anyone compromise if they know, know with a certainty that is without fail, that what they are doing is right in the eternal sense of the word? For example, why would Michele Bachmann compromise on her plans, when God clearly lays out the appropriate plan right there in Chronicles? There’s no incentive to negotiate against God’s Will. There have always been religious conservatives in the US Government. And being a religious conservative is not the problem. The problem is when the Truth of say, the Bible, becomes the Truth of Debt Ceiling Limits in the US in 2011 and Why This Vote on the Debt Ceiling is Unlike Any Other Debt Ceiling Vote in US History. There is no equivalence.
When we talk about the debt ceiling and cutting spending and raising taxes, our politicians should worry about doing what is right, but being Right is not something our elected officials should claim, on either side. The reality of governing in a divided government is such that one should try to compromise, but in doing so try to gain more concessions from your opponents than you give up to them. The GOP could truly, utterly transform the US Government by taking advantage of Obama’s willingness to stay in the role of moderate and moderator to the parties and to compromise (like they did on the Bush tax cuts) and change the shape of the national government towards their political vision–whatever that might be. But digging in their heels in the face of all compromise, well, what good does anyone see coming from that?
As Brooks concludes: Over the past week, Democrats have stopped making concessions. They are coming to the conclusion that if the Republicans are fanatics then they better be fanatics, too.
This is the worst possible outcome, when extremism takes over both sides of a government, and the few people left in the middle, willing to work together, become the ridiculous ones. We can see the results of this in Minnesota, where my state government has decided that compromise would be weak, and that it is better to let the state shutdown, lay off thousands of workers, jeopardize health and safety, and ruin a whole lot of summer vacations, because when one is cocksure of the truth, there can be no compromise. It’s not about being weak politically–I would love to see Dayton’s plan emerge over the Republican one in Minnesota, and I think it will–but there comes a time when compromise is necessary.
The opportunity is still there for the new conservatism to learn something about how government really operates. And if they don’t learn that soon, they might lose their chance to participate in the conversation at all.
David Brooks has been widely (widely!) criticized for his editorial today, mostly for taking the Republicans to task for rejecting a deal that does not exist and calling conservatives anti-intellectuals and morally deficient, etc,. I think this is fair criticism of Brooks, because the White House and Reid have not actually made a specific deal to the Republicans, and the other things.
I do not, however, think that this criticism defeats the argument Brooks is making, nor is it relevant to the point Relative Comment is making. Here, we are concerned not with whether some budget deal has been made, or the intellectual nature of GOPers, but rather how the new brand of Tea-Party Conservatism requires a faithfulness to political values that equates with religious fervor and thus makes compromise nearly impossible. Just wanted to make a note.
CNN reports: “I support intelligent design,” Bachmann told reporters in New Orleans following her speech to the Republican Leadership Conference. “What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.”
Why do Christians work so hard to make a science of belief? This makes me sad. Leave science to science, and the science classroom to the teaching of science. The God/no god question doesn’t matter to science; there is no meaningful definition of science that can be satisfied by ‘God did it.’ Christians of the world should not hurt their own argument ( a beautiful one: There is a creator that made all things perfectly) by trying to gussy it up in junk science and creating a false debate.
There are not two sides of the evolution argument in science. No “letting the students decide” as Bachmann envisions. This isn’t how science operates, and that we have presidential candidates arguing for such demonstrates the horrible state of scientific literacy in the our country. One need not ‘believe’ in evolution, Ms. Bachmann, but there is no alternative scientific theory that can replace it. That doesn’t mean there never will be, but there is not a competing theory right now. And one cannot make up a scientific theory in a think-tank for the purpose of finding a teacher to teach that theory in order to draw a lawsuit in order to bring that suit to the Supreme Court in hopes of overturning evolution’s hold on scientific understanding of biological life thus freeing the minds of children from the evils of science and opening their hearts to Jesus. That’s not where science comes from and unfortunately, that is all Intelligent Design is.
And if the result of total local control of educational curriculum would lead to the teaching of intelligent design in the science classroom (not that this doesn’t happen all the time already), then individual curriculum should not be entirely controlled locally.
One might say that such comments from Bachmann are just campaign platitudes, conservative bona fides that do not really matter and do not call for any type of reaction from the other side. But one would be wrong. This is the education of our youth, and taking from them honest education is a terrible crime. The argument deserves to made every time some politician uses it for political purposes, if for no other purpose than to remind people that only science can be science.
Relative to: The state of Minnesota’s presidential candidates.
A long absence has passed since our last post, after some family issues followed up by the loss of the tip of a middle finger, but TRC is back, and 9-finger typing like a champion. Much has happened since we laughed at President Gentle–the middle east for example has turned completely upside down–but I’ll leave all that to experts and pundits.
Today I’m sticking a little closer to home.
Running for president is tasteless business, unfortunately, and I think that Minnesota is going to demonstrate that fact all too clearly during the 2012 cycle. With former Gov. Tim Pawlenty already campaigning, and taking his game up a step, and Rep. Michelle Bachmann looking to make her own run for the office, the state of MN will be trying to find its way to the White House for the first time. I have a feeling it will not be pretty.
The second first. Michelle Bachmann, despite being an excellent politician, is bats. There’s nothing really to say about that. She will not be elected president.
Moving on. There was a time when Tim Pawlenty was a respectable conservative: one who could be disagreed with but understood. In his first term in MN he pushed for light-rail and a reduction of CO2 emissions in the Midwest–he was considered a national leader in the GOP on climate related issues, helping get the Midwest Energy Infrastructure Accord and other regional initiatives on their feet (there is much on Pawlenty’s objective in the archives of the STrib, which I can’t access at the moment). He did a lot in the state that I could never agree with, especially regarding women’s health issues and education, but I never thought he was a villain.
But then, one day, he just stopped. His interest in the environment and climate seemed to simply disappear. He helped get the MEIA started, but by the time it was ready to roll, Pawlenty was just an empty signature. Before long, Pawlenty was backing the first ever sulfide mining project in Minnesota, run by a company with a reputation for wreaking havoc on the environment and leaving the state to pay for the cleanup. Today, one could never recognize the Former MN Governor as a politician concerned about the environment, let alone a leader on climate change.
Since then, he has been national. Even before Nominee McCain considered Pawlenty as a potential VP-candidate, Gov. Pawlenty had largely checked out of the state’s affairs, taking no responsibility (seriously, none) for the state’s current budget deficit-which may not all fall on Pawlenty’s doorstep, but a whole lot of it does. All this to say, Pawlenty was a good politician, and a guy to be disagreed with. What’s he up to now? Running for president. And since he’s not polling all that well, he’s also wandering the country, embarrassing our state.
I used to worry that Tim Pawlenty was a good enough politician, and smart, and sensible, and appealing enough as a presidential candidate that he would be worth worrying about. Sure, winning the Republican primary would be tough with those characteristics, but in the general election Pawlenty could have a real chance. At least I don’t have to worry about that anymore. As a former Reagan aide put it: Pawlenty’s just “showing he’s not ready for prime time.”