A couple of readers asked this afternoon about the unofficial Republican response last night, delivered by none other than Michele Bachmann. There’s a very good reason I haven’t mentioned it today: I forgot it existed.
For whatever reason, the congressional GOP decided it didn’t want to deliver an official response to President Obama’s jobs speech, which was probably a pretty good strategy. But the right-wing Minnesotan, who annoyed Republican leaders with her own freelance State of the Union response earlier this year, announced late yesterday that she wanted to weigh in after the president’s joint session speech.
In case it wasn’t already obvious that Bachmann’s schtick has worn thin, the GOP presidential hopeful — who just three weeks ago looked like she might actually compete for the nomination — spoke in a Capitol Hill studio to a small audience. How many networks covered her remarks live? None. Bachmann spoke for a little while, took a few questions, and left.
Reclaiming the momentum this wasn’t.
As if this wasn’t quite enough, Bachmann used her time to complain that President Obama was mean to Congress.
In his speech, the president said, “The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy. The question is whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.”
Bachmann apparently found this offensive.
Did you catch it? Bachmann said contained in that early paragraph was a direct attack on the fine men and women of the House.
“It was interesting to me that if you look at the president’s remarks, almost out of the gate, the president began by insulting members of Congress,” she said. “He invited them to be a part of this address this evening…. And yet he began with an insult — for a circus tent.”
“That isn’t what this is. I don’t consider the greatest, most deliberative body in the United States, the House of Representatives, a circus, a political circus,” Bachmann continued. “It isn’t at all.”
First, Obama didn’t call Congress, as an institution, a “political circus”; he was commenting on the larger dysfunction that’s plagued the political system of late.
Second, Obama would have been perfectly justified if he had criticized Congress this way, because the institution has become farcical — thanks in part to ridiculous members like Michele Bachmann.
Third, I would love to do a poll, asking which of these two approaches is more appealing to the American mainstream: Obama’s call to “stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy,” or Bachmann’s insistence that Congress is a really terrific institution.