Published February 12 2010
Forum editorial: Bachmann is fun, but no friendIf nothing else, Michele Bachmann is darned entertaining. In her role as Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the conservative Republican has become the darling of the Tea Party set and a stir-’em-up attraction at Republican rallies, although describing her as “conservative” doesn’t do her justice. Nor is it fair to thoughtful conservatives, because she subscribes to a hat full of peculiar notions that could cause her to be mistaken for a mad hatter.
Bachmann is in Bismarck today at the invitation of the North Dakota Republican Party. The idea is to energize the party faithful, who probably don’t need to be energized this election year. But the fallout from the visit could very well be (maybe should be) to cause sensible North Dakotans to wonder why the state party and its marquee candidate – Gov. John Hoeven for the U.S. Senate – would cozy up to Bachmann and her, frankly, loony ideas. Not only are some of her ideas bizarre, she happily rejects federal policies and initiatives that have enjoyed bipartisan support from North Dakotans and their elected officials for generations – Hoeven among those popular leaders.
- Bachmann favors privatization of Social Security, which would mean handing over billions of Social Security dollars to Wall Street. Had that happened when President George W. Bush proposed it, thousands of North Dakotans would have seen their Social Security accounts take big losses or dry up altogether.
- She wants to eliminate Social Security and Medicare, which was actually proposed by House Republicans last week.
- She wants investigations into members of Congress she believes are anti-American, who just happen to be Democrats. Would that McCarthy-like net scoop up North Dakota Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad? Rep. Earl Pomeroy? Minnesota 7th District Congressman Collin Peterson?
- Bachmann voted five times against the 2008 farm bill (Congressional Record), legislation Hoeven favored; he traveled several times to Washington to help the state’s congressional delegation get the bill passed. And how about this: Bachmann received $251,973 in federal subsidies for her family’s farm from 1995 to 2006.
Her goofy comments aside, Bachmann’s take on serious policies disqualifies her as a friend of North Dakotans. Her agenda would return North Dakota to a marginal economic outpost instead of its current role as a vibrant player in the nation’s energy, research and agribusiness economies. Hoeven can take some credit for that success because he was willing to work across party lines in order to position the state to take advantage of appropriate federal programs. But if he reaches across the aisle in Bismarck today and finds Bachmann there, he should smile politely and step smartly in the opposite direction.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.