Rep. Michele Bachmann’s call for a media investigation into “anti-American” members of Congress may have been the macaca — or McCarthy — moment of 2008, but it has also given the Minnesota Republican something she’s been angling for since arriving in Congress two years ago: the national spotlight.
“I think that she’s a media hound first and foremost,” said [a Minnesota GOP operative close to Bachmann]. “That has been her biggest goal from Day One: to be in the media spotlight, to be a representative who is the spokesman for the Republican Party — and she’s made that a very concerted effort, to be in the spotlight as much as possible.
It was this willingness that found Bachmann on “Hardball” with Chris Matthews on Friday. As Matthews explained it to Politico, one of his bookers called John McCain’s presidential campaign early in the day for help in filling a hard-to-book Friday afternoon slot.
The campaign, Matthews said, suggested the ever-willing Bachmann.
The YouTube moments that other members fear will ruin their careers — see Allen, Former Sen. George — seem only to have aided Bachmann’s quest for media ubiquity.
Bachmann first hiked the national eyebrow with her awkwardly long shoulder grasp of President Bush in the moments after his 2007 State of the Union address. A video clip landed in heavy rotation online, as did clips of Bachmann sermonizing about being “hot for Jesus,” referring to Terri Schiavo as “healthy” and disputing that “global warming is the issue of the day.”
But none of those resulted in the attention — or the blowback — that Bachmann’s exchange with Matthews has produced.
Early in the “Hardball” interview, Bachmann said she was “very concerned” that Barack Obama “may have anti-American views.”
Matthews kept pressing.
“I guess when I heard the word ‘anti-American’ [applied] to Barack, I wanted to see how ready she was to apply it,” Matthews told Politico on Monday. “And she was ready to apply it pretty broadly.”
Matthews asked Bachmann how many of her colleagues were “anti-American.”
“What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating exposé and take a look,” Bachmann responded. “I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would be — would love to see an exposé like that.”
The backlash was immediate and intense. Colin Powell called Bachmann’s comments “nonsense.” Nancy Pelosi said Bachmann had “discredited” herself. Republicans didn’t exactly rush to Bachmann’s defense. Spokesmen from the offices of the House minority leader, the House minority whip and the Republican Study Committee all declined to comment Monday. McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers wouldn’t address Bachmann’s comments directly, but he said that the Arizona senator doesn’t question Obama’s patriotism.
And even as [Bachmann’s chief of staff Michelle] Marston argued that Matthews had backed Bachmann into a corner, the congresswoman’s Democratic challenger, El Tinklenberg, was taking in more than $800,000 in fresh contributions from donors around the country.
From The New York Observer:
Before John McCain and his traveling press corps entered a packed hall in Concord, N.C., for a rally on the morning of Oct. 18, local members of Congress sought to rile up the crowd.
Then they had to calm it down.
First, Representative Patrick McHenry cheered what he called the “biggest crowd John McCain has gotten in North Carolina” and emphasized that this was a critical election with a stark choice between the candidates.
“It’s like black and white,” someone in the crowd at the Cabarrus Arena & Events Center yelled out, laughing. McHenry let the remark pass and finished his speech. He yielded the microphone to Representative Robin Hayes, who prefaced his comments by saying it was important to “make sure we don’t say something stupid, make sure we don’t say something we don’t mean.” Republicans, he reminded the crowd, were kind people. Plus, he added, the liberal media had shown itself eager to distort such remarks. With the crowd duly chastened and put on best behavior, he accused Obama of “inciting class warfare” and said that “liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God.”