My first real awareness of Michele Bachmann came about a year ago when she proclaimed from the Conservative media rooftops that 2 million people attended the Glenn Beck march in Washington. That was 25 times the number that scientific methodologies counted for this much overblown rally.
I thought it amazing that Bachmann could so diffidently throw around what she must have known were false numbers. The immediate contrast was with Sarah Palin. Palin seemed to be truly ignorant, whereas Bachmann projected a knowing cunning, as if she knew she was exaggerating far beyond the point of fibbing.
Now Politifact has done one of their truth analyses of Bachmann’s statements. Politifacts looked into 26 provocative statements Bachmann has recently made, selected at random.
Politifact likes to rate statements in six descriptive categories, and here’s how Bachmann’s 26 statements fared:
- TRUE: 1
- MOSTLY TRUE: 0
- HALF TRUE: 2
- BARELY TRUE: 5
- FALSE: 11
- PANTS ON FIRE: 7
Basically, Bachmann told the truth once (4%), proffered a semi-truth or a stretcher 7 times (27%) and lied out-and-out 18 times (69%).
Here are a few of Bachmann’s more outrageous lies:
- The President released all of the oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve. President Obama released a mere 4% of the reserve.
- The price of throwing a barbecue on Memorial Day weekend was 29% more this year than last year. Nationally, the real increase was 3%
- Small businesses with $250,000 in gross sales are looking at a massive tax increase. The tax increase would be on profit not gross sales, making this one of the smarmiest of the lies.
- The top 1% of wage earners pay about 40% of all taxes to the federal government. Wrong again, Michele! It’s only about 28%.
And on and on, lie after lie after lie, some almost criminally absurd.
The question is why such a bald-faced liar is getting so much coverage in the media?
What if Bachmann gains a head of steam like Dukakis or Obama did and sweeps through the caucuses and primaries? Can the Republicans responsibly nominate for either president or vice president someone who continually lies on the factual level? We’re not talking about the typical conceptual lies and convoluted reasoning about free markets. Nor are we talking about an abiding faith that distorts the analysis of every phenomenon. And we’re not talking about pretty euphemisms or false labeling.
No, we’re talking about an extreme pattern of constant lying about facts to make her case. We’re talking about someone who told the absolute truth 4% of the time. How can we have a president whom we can’t trust?
Bachmann, Palin and their ilk get popular because the news media give them plenty of opportunities to tell the people what they want to hear. Like Reagan’s welfare queens, Bachmann’s lies and Palin’s misunderstandings play into the long-standing myths, prejudices and beliefs of a hardcore minority of the country—maybe 20-25% of our citizenry. The main stream news media panders to the beliefs of this minority by letting them set the stage for discussions of debt ceilings, education, war, torture, abortion, and virtually every other issue save (at least lately) gay marriage.
But once again, I wonder, have the moneybags and the media mavens thought through the possible outcome of giving their attentions to Michele Bachmann? Couldn’t they have found another female Conservative horse to ride, perhaps Nikki Haley or Cathy McMorris Rogers?
Of course, it takes the proffering of lies to argue in favor of many conservative positions, such as loosening environmental regulations or lowering taxes. Bachmann enables the media to avoid doing the lying themselves. Instead, they can quote Bachmann telling the lies. The false ideas get out, and yet the media maintains a fiction of journalistic objectivity. So instead of her habitual lying serving as a barrier to Bachmann leaping onto the national stage, it may be in fact the reason she is able to take the leap.