Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – July 15, 2011

Whether it is Sarah Palin erroneously bleating about the mission of Paul Revere or Michelle Bachmann obscenely misconstruing the horror of American slavery, the right wing of the right wing creates historical facts to suit their rhetoric of the moment. Meanwhile, President Obama and the G.O.Tea Party continue to play high stakes poker and we are the chips.

The Traveling Gong Show

Michelle Bachmann seems intent on proving that the combination of stupidity and insensitivity is truly a toxic combination. Last week she and Rick Santorum (famous for comparing homosexuality to bestiality) signed an “oath” in Iowa as presidential candidates pledging themselves to certain conservative principles.

The preamble to this “oath” stated that an African American child born into slavery in 1860 is better off than an African American child born today during the term of an African American president.

This kind of language is part and parcel on an historic effort on the part of apologists for slavery and the Confederacy. The argument goes something like this: sure slavery was wrong, but it was a benign system that had many redeeming virtues. Anyone who believes that American slavery was “benign” is either truly ignorant or willing to accept the notion that the mistreatment of African Americans is just “not that bad”.

Her gaffe is not surprising given the fact that Michelle Bachman was born in Iowa at a time when it had a more miniscule minority population than it does now. Moreover, her congressional district is the whitest district in the state of Minnesota, which is really saying something.

But even these facts do not excuse the heartless and cruel ignorance of the humanity of people held in bondage simply for the sake of putting a few political points on the board.

Her papier-mâché resume and her transparent idiocy would be the stuff of comedy except for the fact that there are adults who are not residents of mental institutions who believe that she should be president of the United States. I am thinking that we should be more afraid of her supporters than we are of her.

Keep Your Eye on the Bouncing Ball

There are unconfirmed reports that during the tense budget/debt ceiling negotiations President Obama and Congressman Eric Cantor almost came to blows. It has been confirmed that President Obama did at one point walk out on the meeting having expressed his anger and frustration with his typical eloquence.

I am assuming that the Secret Service would have wrestled Mr. Cantor to the floor before Barack Obama used his superior reach to jab him into oblivion. But it is good to see some fire emanating from the Ice King whose adversaries sometimes mistake his cool demeanor for wimpishness. Clearly the battle over the budget and the debt ceiling transcends dollars and cents and is being fought in the arena of ideology.

Historians will look back on these serial budget conflicts as being linked with the debates that preceded the ratification of the Constitution along with the philosophical conflicts that preceded the Civil War. The outcome of these conflicts deserves some fire and brimstone from the progressive side of the table and I for one am glad to see President Obama start drawing some lines in the sand.

Have a great weekend!