Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Michele Bachmann Makes the Gaffe Heard 'Round the Blogosphere

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Michele BachmannDuring a speech she gave at an event organized by the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) declared: "You're the state where the shot was heard around the world at Lexington and Concord.” The statement is an unfortunate mistake as the battles at Lexington and Concord where the “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired were fought in Massachusetts, about 70 miles south of the venue where Bachmann was speaking.

While many of us make such errors daily, Representative Bachmann’s gaffe is doubly embarrassing as she is the very vocal leader of the House Tea Party Caucus and often adopts the patois of the Revolutionary War in her speeches and public appearances.

When Bachmann’s mistake is mixed with her high-profile political stature and her reported White House aspirations, the resulting concoction is chum in the water of partisan punditry, as evidenced by the unnecessarily lengthy article published after the event by Politico. The authors wrote:

The latest gaffe may not hurt her with those grass-roots activists who are attracted to her for her attacks against the Obama administration, but it could hamper her efforts to be taken seriously among the broader swath of Republicans she’d need to win the nomination.

“She makes Sarah Palin look like Count Metternich,” groaned longtime GOP consultant Mike Murphy on Twitter after reading about the Concord confusion.

Count Metternich, for the record, was the chairman at the Congress of Vienna held in 1814-1815 that redrew the map of Europe following the end of the French Revolution and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. While Murphy’s invoking of Metternich’s name is probably very clever, what is more important to consider, however, is that were Twitter, cellphone recording devices, and 24-hour news channels in existence in the good Count’s time, a bumbling blunder or two of his might have been caught, as well.

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Not one to take such criticism, however well-founded, lying down, on Tuesday, Representative Bachmann took to the airwaves to defend herself and her reputation and give her own spin on the events that caused this latest tempest in a tea (party) pot:

I was up in New Hampshire speaking and the marvelously thing about New Hampshire is that they’re still proud of that battle. They sent a number of people from their militia down to it. And I made a mistake. I should’ve said Massachusetts rather than New Hampshire. But you know, that’s the way it goes and we had a great trip and I was glad to be able to be there.

She continued:

We all know that there’s a double standard in the media. And of course when President Obama said that there had been a tornado in Kansas and 10,000 had been killed that wasn’t considered newsworthy when he was campaigning for president, and then he said he was in 57 states and he was on his way to the 58th, and of course that wasn’t considered newsworthy because as we all know, the 3,400 members of the mainstream media are a part of the Obama press contingent. And this is just what we get.

So it doesn’t matter which conservative is out there, if an error is made in any way that is what is stated. They didn’t talk about the great crowd, the standing ovation or the wonderful time that we had in New Hampshire and that is just the way it goes. I think that is what we as conservatives understand.

In doing their due diligence on similar slip-ups made by the Minnesota representative, Politico reminded readers of a couple of cringe-worthy comments made recently by Bachmann:

Speaking in January to an Iowa anti-tax group, Bachmann claimed that the authors of the country’s founding documents sought to end slavery.

"The very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States," she said.

While some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were in favor of abolishing slavery, they were, of course, dead when the institution was ended following the Civil War.

Bachmann singled out John Quincy Adams as someone who "would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country."

But John Quincy Adams, the sixth president who went on to campaign vigorously against slavery while serving in the U.S. House, was not yet 9 years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776; he died in 1848 — nearly two decades before the 13th Amendment was ratified abolishing slavery.

In the grander scheme of things, were it not for Representative Bachmann’s wrapping of herself in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the words of our Founders, her geographical disorientation, as well as her chronological confusion would be embarrassing, but forgivable and ultimately forgotten. After all, others occupying higher offices have taken worse tumbles. But, Bachmann has set herself out as a defender of the Constitution, an advocate of a second American Revolution, and a return to the limited government created in 1787.

Regardless of how Congressman Bachmann’s political future is impacted by this negative attention, her supporters will faithfully ride to her aid and rally to her defense, accusing Politico and others of publishing a “hit job” on their hero. Bachmann herself set the tone when while defending herself she invoked gaffes made by President Obama.

What lesson should constitutionalists who look to Bachmann and other elected politicians for constitutional salvation take from the good congresswoman’s mix-up?

Perhaps there is an analogy to be made to the psalmist’s injunction to “put not your trust in princes.” (Psalm 146:3). When it comes to defending the cornerstones of liberty upon which the American republic is built, it is “we, the people” who must protect them from erosion or from the purposeful destruction by those seeking to “ordain and establish” some other form of government or to expand the territory of government influence. There is, in fact, balm in Gilead, and it is found in the reading, studying, and understanding of the timeless principles of republican self-government enshrined in the Constitution. Then, once so enlightened, it is the duty of Americans to zealously and courageously stand as sentinels, guarding the Constitution from those intent on replacing it or rewriting it in a fashion more accommodating to their own self-interests.

One thing is certain: History teaches that it is unwise to rely on any elected official, no matter how sincere and devoted to the Constitution, for the defense of America's liberties. And, it is even greater folly to hold those politicians to a standard of exactness that no one, not any one (including the illustrious Count Metternich), could live up to.

Photo: Rep. Michele Bachmann