Exit Bachmann, Ctd.

Oh, God.

She’s going to make a reality TV show, isn’t she?


It may be freezing and rainy in London on this afternoon in late May, but boy am I glad to be well outside the broadcast reach of the TLC network right now.

Good luck, America.

Exit Bachmann

Well, this is a very sad day for American comedians and political junkies across the land. Our thoughts (but certainly not our prayers) must especially go out to Bill Maher at this difficult time. Why?

Because US Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota’s 6th district – otherwise known as Minnesota Palin – will not be running for re-election in 2014.

And she made this incredibly cheesy YouTube video to break the devastating news to her constituents:


She assures as that her decision has nothing to do with any of the following potential juicy reasons:

1. The fact that she barely held on to her seat in 2012, and the same Democratic Party challenger is gearing up to take her on again in 2014.

2. Her 2012 presidential campaign is being investigated by the Federal Elections Commission for potential serious improprieties.

3. She goes on dirty, McCarthy-ite, partisan witch hunts against loyal public servants.

4. She’s quite clearly insane.

So what, oh what could the real reason be? Did Michele Bachmann jump or was she pushed?

Normally I wholeheartedly agree with the likes of Glenn Greenwald, who argue that this type of Politico-esque process and personality-obsessed gossiping should not be part of our political discourse, and that it distracts from real journalism, and serious discussions of policy when we need them most. Quite right. But this particular dose of schadenfreude is too good to pass up.

Farewell, Michele Bachmann.

At least she was looking directly at the camera this time around.

Obama The Socialist

Barack Obama - Socialist - Socialism


Who knew: Apparently I would make a passable journalist, and could be well respected and remunerated for doing so. I know this because after I read Paul Roderick Gregory’s article in Forbes, “Is It Within Bounds To Ask: Is Obama A Socialist?” I did two things: I reminded myself of the definition of socialism using two readily available sources (I was smart and used two independent sources just in case one of them was leading me astray), and I cross-checked this definition against the policy positions set out on Barack Obama’s website.

Paul Roderick Gregory, who “journalists” for a living, did neither of these things; he is professionally negligent and apparently just whipped open his laptop and started typing. Either that, or he is professionally negligent and knows the information to be found on these websites very well, but thinks that all of his readers are idiots who are incapable or unlikely of doing the same. Now which could it be?

I am going to leave aside the semantic arguments about the meaning of the word “socialism” that Gregory employs in his companion piece “Is President Obama Truly A Socialist“, but basically Gregory holds his hands up and pleads that he doesn’t mean the traditional definition of socialism. No, he just means “socialism” as practiced by continental Europeans with their welfare states. Of course, this disclaimer is buried very deep within the article, so that the full impact of conflating Obama’s political philosophy with socialism is felt immediately, while the clarification is given only after the statement has had sufficient time to establish itself as fact:

By “socialist,” I do not mean a Lenin, Castro, or Mao, but whether Obama falls within the mainstream of contemporary socialism as represented, for example, by Germany’s Social Democrats, French Socialists, or Spain’s socialist-workers party?

By this criterion, yes, Obama is a socialist.

If Gregory wanted to make this more nuanced argument (still wrong, in my opinion) – that Obama’s policies are closely aligned to European social democracy – then he could go ahead and do so. But he has no interest in doing that. The only reason he even includes this tortured disclaimer is to clear the ground so that he can land his rhetorical punch on Obama, and label him a “socialist”.

From the stirring conclusion to the original article:

The upcoming November election offers American voters a choice that is starker than they understand. Obama brings to the table a deep distrust of free enterprise and a belief in government as the solution to most problems. Romney offers a vision of faith in private enterprise and a distrust of government intervention. Obama will disguise his views with “fair share” slogans and weak protestations of faith in private enterprise.

This is actually the closest that Gregory comes to cogency in either piece. I come from a centre-right perspective and do sometimes think that Obama is heavy-handed in his administration’s oversight of the free market. Interfering with private companies such as Boeing when they come to make decisions on where to locate their production, for example, strikes me as bullying and control-freakish. But I have never felt as though Obama was secretly yearning to nationalise Boeing and create a state-owned aerospace and defence company.

On the flip side, many of Romney’s contemporaries in industry are only too quick and happy to run to the government when it suits their needs, perhaps to ask for bailouts, favourable trading terms or tax loopholes, or to bring down the regulators on a rival that is becoming rather too successful. Hardly unheard-of.

Why am I even bothering to quote this trash? Only because it is emblematic and typical of the lazy type of charges that are levelled against Obama by some on the right. By calling out Gregory now, I free myself from the obligation do the same thing every time another right wing talking head repeats the same “Obama-Socialist” line on Fox News, or in a newspaper column.

So, Paul Roderick Gregory, the unfortunate person who I picked on to embody every die-hard tea partier and overenthusiastic Republican who is tempted to get carried away with the old rhetoric when disagreeing with President Obama’s economic policies: is it “within bounds to ask: is Obama a socialist?”

Sure, it’s within bounds. It’s just really, really dumb.

I had no idea that the bar for becoming a published Forbes contributor was set so low.