In Defense of Michele Bachmann

<a href="">Gage Skidmore</a>/Flickr

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Among all the reactions to June’s abysmal job numbers, Rep. Michele Bachmann delivered what some saw as the most callous.

During a morning interview on CNBC, host Carl Quintanilla asked the congresswoman, “Does it strike you that as the unemployment rate goes up your chances of winning office also go up?” Bachmann started her reply by stumbling on the words, “Well, that could be. Again, I hope so.”

Some in the lefty blogosphere seized upon this, taking those eight words to mean that Bachmann cynically hoped for an economic breakdown that would increase her odds of winning the White House in 2012.

Think Progress wrote:

While it’s of course acceptable for Bachmann to campaign on wanting to turn the economy around, it’s another matter entirely when she actively pursues policies that make the economy worse — while hoping it will help her campaign.

Daily Kos weighed in similarly:

[Y]ou’ve got to give [Bachmann] credit for being honest. Not many Republicans are willing to publicly admit that they hope sabotaging the economy will help them win in the 2012 elections.

AlterNet, The Raw Story, and others ran with the same narrative. But anyone watching the full interview could see that Bachmann hardly comes across as someone hankering for a jobs market implosion. From the footage, it’s clear that what she is “hoping” for is to be president, and to inject her Tea Party philosophy into national economic policy:

I have seen up-close-and-personal how devastating high taxes are on…businesses and families…[I want to] bring my background, skill, and expertise to be able to actually change the economy.

There is plenty of room to criticize Bachmann’s flawed economic thinking and her propensity for saying pretty absurd, nasty stuff (like when she accused the First Family of harboring “anti-American views“). But those arguments can—and should—be made without distorting her message or excising context. However off-the-mark she can be, claiming that this interview shows that Bachmann yearns to see the American economy plummet sounds a lot like Ann Coulter saying that liberals wanted the US to “fail” in Iraq. It’s just not credible.

Here’s the video:


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend