Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crazy Eyes and the Right Wing Cult of Victimhood

Latest Newspaper Column:

This past week, those on the American right stopped patting themselves on the back for nearly causing America to default long enough to engage in another of their favorite pastimes: whining that they’re being picked on.
This time, the source of the injury to their delicate feelings was the cover of Newsweek, featuring the visage of Michele Bachmann.
The cover photo, over a headline dubbing her “The Queen of Rage,” showed Bachmann looking pretty much like she’s looked in a lot of pictures and videos, including her much-parodied response to the State of the Union address: staring off into space, wide-eyed, as if she’s watching a troupe of fairies dancing in a mystic circle only she can see.
Republican fairies, naturally. Non-gay ones.
Of course, to the right, running an accurate photograph of their current icon is like quoting her past statements accurately: proof of a vast left-wing conspiracy in the media.
“Can anyone really say with a straight face that the mainstream media is not totally biased against conservatives?” a conservative blogger at a site called “Freedom’s Lighthouse” complained.
Gee, I don’t know, dude. Maybe you should ask Anthony Weiner how the media go easy on liberals. Or you could ask Bill Clinton, who was once shown on a Time magazine cover with his face printed as a frightening-looking photo negative, over the headline “Why People Don’t Trust Bill Clinton.”

Actually, Bachmann’s supporters should  be ecstatic about the Newsweek cover, because once they begin their customary temper tantrum, it’s like throwing a switch that sends the talking heads and chattering pundits of the allegedly “liberal” media into their own customary fits of blather about their favorite subject: themselves. Was the picture unfair? Are we sexist? Would anyone in the media distort appearances to try to make a male Democratic front runner look unhinged for the sake of a story?
Maybe you should direct that last question to Howard Dean.
Meanwhile, something a lot more substantive that can and should be more closely examined about Bachmann gets pushed to the back burner: the fact that the woman who’s so given to railing about government spending and programs isn’t shy about benefiting from them herself.
She’s been a vocal critic of federal home loan programs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, even while she and her husband were taking out a $417,000 home loan backed by those agencies. The Bachmann family farm received $251,000 in federal farm payments between 1995 and 2006, and Michele took $50,000 in profit out of the place in 2008.
The clinic run by Bachmann’s husband received money from Medicaid, a program she decries for “swelling the welfare rolls,” until her hubby got caught taking it. At that point, according to a Bachmann spokesman, Medicaid became “a valuable form of insurance for many Americans.”
Then, as a congresswoman, Bachmann frequently appealed to agencies like the EPA (which she’s suggested she’d eliminate if she were president), the Agriculture Department, and the Department of Transportation for funds from the very stimulus programs she once dubbed “fantasy economics.”
She also praised Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for using government money to help prop up the struggling pork industry in her state and urged him to continue to “stabilize prices through direct government purchasing.”
The website Politico has referred to this sort of behavior as “selective socialism.” It’s the sort of thing we’ve gotten used to from the right, which, as I’ve said before, often reminds me of a teenager screaming at her parents “I hate you, you ruined my life, I wish you were dead!” then demanding a ride to the mall.
Maybe, like the tea partiers who want to “keep the government’s hands off Medicare,” Michele Bachmann is actually so unhinged that she truly doesn’t regard it as government spending if it’s spent on her. Or maybe she’s just another grifter assuring the rubes that she’s the only one who’s looking after their interests while she pockets government cash with both hands.
In any case, those are bigger questions about Bachmann than the superficial one of whether or not the Newsweek cover made her look bad.
Modern media types, however, are ­notorious these days for concentrating on style (or “optics,” to use the new buzzword) rather than substance. They’re more ­interested in fretting about whether they’re “balanced” than in whether they’re ­reporting the truth.
That’s not because they’re liberal. It’s because they’re lousy at their jobs.


Spanish Inquisitor said...

I thought the "Queen of Rage" was a bit much. I can't remember ever seeing her rage about anything. When I think of her, rage is not what comes to mind.

No. The "Queen of Stupidity" or the "Queen of Hypocrisy" or the "Queen of Morons" or the "Queen of the Delusional" would be more apt.

John P

JD Rhoades said...

SI, I think the "rage" is in reference to her followers, who are apoplectic over pretty much everything these days.

Remember when being "angry" was a negative in politics? "Oh my stars, the Left is so ANGRY!" Is Howard Dean too ANGRY to be President?"

Now it's the Teahadists' default mood.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Interesting. But then, if the "rage" is referring to her followers, and not her picture, then why get all upset about her picture? It's accurate. No one is claiming it's been retouched, like they did with OJ to make him look like a black thug.

So what are they complaining about?

OH. Never-mind. I know. Those with a persecution complex don't need a reason.

JD Rhoades said...


Karen in Ohio said...

There's a reason they call her "Crazy Eyes", and it has nothing to do with Newsweek.

Not only does she take government money with both hands, but being a Congressperson as a career is also a way of getting a handout, and for life. The pension she'll receive from her few years' service will dwarf anything one could get from the private sector, hands down. Why the hell are we allowing that to happen?

Everyone in Congress who rails against government handouts is a hypocrite of the first water. When they start eliminating their overly generous pensions and other perks, then I'll listen. Until then, they can STFU. Thank you.

David said...

When I saw that picture, one of my first thoughts was "Damn, she is Greg Stillson in drag."

JD Rhoades said...

"The missiles are flying. Hallelujah!"

Margaret Yang said...

Great post. I loved it. Thank you for writing it.

Sigh. If only we could have some substance over style in our politics. Wouldn't that be amazing?

JD Rhoades said...

Thanks, Margaret.