Guy Fawkes, new Republican hero

GUY FAWKES, NEW REPUBLICAN HERO…. Last fall, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) organized a right-wing rally on Capitol Hill for November 5, in the hopes of killing health care reform. After characterizing her followers as “insurgents” and “freedom fighters,” Bachmann urged far-right activists to, in her word, “scare” federal lawmakers.

The scheduling of Bachmann’s Capitol Hill soiree was a little disconcerting — she picked a date widely known as Guy Fawkes Night. In other words, one of the country’s most extreme lawmakers chose to rally right-wing activists, label them an “insurgency,” and encourage them to roam the halls of Congress deliberately “scaring” members of Congress, on the infamous date that marks an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

Fortunately, 11/5 came and went without incident. But the Republican affection for Guy Fawkes has apparently not dissipated. Time‘s Michael Scherer had this report:

The Republican Governors Association has embraced the symbolism of Fawkes, launching a rather striking website,, with a video that showcases far more Hollywood savvy than one can usually expect from Republicans. Again, the Fawkes tale has been twisted a bit. This time, President Obama plays the role of King James, the Democratic leadership is Parliament, and the Republican Party represents the aggrieved Catholic mass.

The politics and substance aside, this strikes me as a remarkable bit of political messaging, not just for its cinematic quality. The RGA, under the control of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, is clearly stepping out of the stodgy, safe territory it normally inhabits. It is aiming to tap into the vast well of anti-government fury now coursing through the nation. Who would have guessed that Barbour would embrace the symbolic value of the same would-be mass murderer as the Wachowski brothers?

Josh Marshall added, “I find this completely bewildering. The Republican Governors Association is embracing the mantle of a 17th century radical who tried but failed to pull off a mass casualty terrorist attack to kill the King of England and all of Parliament…. Nothing shocks me anymore. But this shocks me.”

It’s a reminder that the Republican mainstream made a right turn at scary, and have arrived right at stark raving mad.