Saturday, October 24, 2009

George Will Goes Gaga for Bachmann

In the past I’ve had a modicum of respect for George F. Will, even if he does come across as a humorless New England boarding school English teacher in need of a high colonic. I’ve even agreed with him on some occasions, even though he spends most of his time defending the old-guard country club ideals of elite Republicanism, and I’ve thought that he viewed the rantings of the new right wing — the birthers, the deathers, and the oathers — with a bit of sneer even as he defends some of their ideas if not their tactics. But today he rises to the defense of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the highly entertaining whirling dervish of the far right, and makes it sound like she is yet another misunderstood beacon of truth, justice, and the American Way. His only concession to her nutsery is to admit that she is a “petite pistol that occasionally goes off half-cocked.” Occasionally?

Mr. Will cites her appearance on Hardball last October where she “made the mistake of taking Chris Matthews’s bait and speculating about whether Barack Obama and some other Democrats have ‘anti-American’ views.” Of course it was Chris Matthews’ fault that she answered his question. But he insists that she’s well within the mainstream, citing her oft-viewed House floor speech where she labeled the federal takeover of General Motors as “gangster government” and says that millions of people have seen it. Hint: just because a video gets viewed 2 million times doesn’t make it proof of intelligent discourse, and it’s not always because they agree with her. (The dramatic prairie dog gets that many in a day.)

If that was Ms. Bachmann’s only example of her “supposed excess,” Mr. Will’s defense of her would be understandable; after all, we’ve got a lot of examples of other far-right members of Congress making loony speeches that bring out the mockery and snark, and they don’t garner the attention, more’s the pity. But Ms. Bachmann is the gift that keeps on giving, from her call for keeping Americans “armed and dangerous,” her denial of climate change (in which Mr. Will is her soulmate), and a number of other just downright nutty claims such as the FEMA concentration camps that will come from the renewal of Americorps. Mr. Will ignores the rest of these and, as is the wont of every mainstream pundit sucking up to to fringe, suggests that we are mocking and ignoring Ms. Bachmann at our peril.

In a way, I feel sorry for Mr. Will; I’m guessing he bet on the Dodgers to win the NLCS and this is his penance: having to defend one of the most divisive and extreme members of his party in print.