Tag Archives: Michelle Bachmann


Michelle Bachmann has some interesting ideas on how to pay for the Iraq war, namely, the Iraqis should pay for it:

It’s over 800 billion dollars that we have expended [in Iraq]. I believe that Iraq should pay us back for the money that we spent, and I believe that Iraq should pay the families that lost a loved one several million dollars per life, I think at minimum.

It's been a long time that she has superpassed plausible parody; why not just run Stephen Colbert in her place.

On the bright side, however, she seems to think at least that the war has cost money.

It belongs to him

In the "can't tell if troll category" here is Michelle Bachmann on taxation:

KELLY: Thanks, Bret.

Congresswoman Bachmann, after the last debate, a young member of the California Tea Party said he didn’t feel he had had his question fully answered. And it’s a question that received the most votes on Google and YouTube on the list, as well. The answer his question is a number. And the question was, quote, “Out of every dollar I earn, how much do you think that I deserve to keep?”

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN.: And after the debate, I talked to that young man, and I said I wish I could have answered that question, because I want to tell you what my answer is: I think you earned every dollar. You should get to keep every dollar that you earn. That’s your money; that’s not the government’s money.


That’s the whole point. Barack Obama seems to think that when we earn money, it belongs to him and we’re lucky just to keep a little bit of it. I don’t think that at all. I think when people make money, it’s their money.

Obviously, we have to give money back to the government so that we can run the government, but we have to have a completely different mindset. And that mindset is, the American people are the genius of this economy. It certainly isn’t government that’s the genius. And that’s the two views.

President Obama has embraced a view of government-directed temporary fixes and gimmicks. They don’t work. He’s destroyed the economy. What does work is private solutions that are permanent in the private sector. That gives certainty; that will grow our economy.


This is idiocy of the highest order–both question and answer.  For the idiocy of the question, listen to Elizabeth Warren.  Concerning Bachmann here, three obvious–and I think disqualifying for the job of Congressional janitor–logical problems.  (1) Obama doesn't think anything like what she alleges and (2) she thinks there ought to be taxation but people should keep all of the money they earn; (3) the red herring at the end urging that the private sector ought to fix the economy.

Sadly, over at TPM, a site I can't figure out, here is the headline: "Michelle Bachmann: Taxpayers Ought to Keep Every Dollar They Earn."  She does not actually put the matter in this obviously self-contradictory way ("taxpayers should not be taxpayers").  But she does say something idiotic.  And the most idiotic thing I think is the last bit about how doing nothing about the economy is what ought to be done.  Yet, sadly again, in most of the stories I surveyed this morning about this quote (googling the quote that is), the end bit was cut off. 

My own view is that the straw manner (such as Bachmann obviously is) deserves no charity; but that I'm going to predict is what people will object to about this story–"Bachmann misquoted!"  This misquote will justify the iron man in their mind.  And this is sad, I think. 

Meat stoking, plenty of it

I've been thinking of the reverse straw man for a bit now.  Following the suggestions of some friends and commenters at the Mid South, one variation of the too charitable straw man we might call the "iron man."  This is when someone's weak argument–or some weak arguer–is made stronger by irrelevant and inappropriate charity.  Too often this inappropriate charity comes from people who ought to know better.  And trolls depend on troll enablers.

The Onion, of all places, seems to get this.  Here's their take on Michelle Bachmann:

Michele Bachmann Announces Bid To Be Discussed More Than She Deserves In 2012

That pretty much sums it up.  Bachmann makes Bush look like Aristotle.  Not iron-manning every incoherent utterance.  I heard this yesterday on NPR:

ELLIOTT: I think the reception that Minnesota Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, got here. She was really the star of the day. The crowd even sort of mobbed the stage when she finished her speech. And she really gave this conservative crowd just what they were looking for: plenty of meat stoking the anti-President Obama fervor that was rumbling through the crowd.

She attacked the president's health care overhaul. She attacked his energy policy, as well as his handling of the economy.

Representative MICHELE BACHMANN (Republican, Minnesota): We know what works. It's cutting spending. It's growing the economy. It's doing what free markets do, and what economic superpowers do. And Mr. President, you're no economic superpower.

I think it's a stretch to call this an "attack" on the President's handling of the economy.  Maybe it would be more appropriate to say that she said words which on the most charitble interpretation were probably meant as criticism of Obama on the economy.  Anything more would be iron-manning.  The sample clip doesn't begin to make sense–it begs the question (it's growing the economy!), ignores basic economics (cutting spending!), and it equivocates on "economic superpower" (in the first it's a property of nations, then it's denied of Barack Obama).

Iron man

Corresponding to the three versions of the straw man scheme (straw, weak, hollow), one may identify three forms of dialectical distortion going the other way–i.e., that is the "positive" way.  That is to say, one may be guilty of not being critical enough, or of being too nice, or too interested in analyzing good arguments to bother with all of the bad ones.  The last one here, I think, is a typical philosopher problem.  

This idea of being too charitable has come up before.  See here. And here and to some extent here.

Like the classic straw man, this sort of distortion would admit of both fallacious and non fallacious varieties.  The non fallacious varieties one might employ in class (among other places), for the kids sometimes make crappy arguments that could be made better with a little tweaking.  It's the same kind of tweaking one does to make them worse, only the point is to then evaluate the better argument, the argument not given.

One type of fallacious employment, let's call it the iron man, consists in being insufficiently critical to an obviously weak argument (or arguer) when that criticism is right, proper, and necessary.  Here's an example from Jennifer Rubin's "Right Turn Blog" at the Washington Post:

Bachmann’s greatest challenge, should she run for president in 2012, will be to convince a wide cross-section of voters that she isn’t the media’s cartoon figure. But she’ll have to do it without dampening the enthusiasm of her most devoted supporters. However, candidly, the biggest challenge will be for the other candidates, who will have to debate a very smart, articulate and entirely underestimated woman. As one Republican operative told me, “Hey, I wouldn’t want to get on that stage with her.” And that is precisely why a Bachmann candidacy, far from being a “joke” or a “farce,” might be the most interesting thing to happen to the 2012 GOP primary race.

Bachmann has many more obvious challenges, but this alternate reality post happily refutes itself, as it seems to suggest her most ardent supporters will be turned off by her losing the alleged media caricature.  Bachmann may be smart in some sense, but she's nowhere near the serious contender Rubin makes her out to be.  And this doesn't help–it doesn't help Republicans in particular–clarify what the viable options are.  Bachmann, on even Bill O'Reilly's accounting, isn't a serious candidate (or person or thinker).  Why we should waste precious minutes in the 24 hour news cycle is beyond me. 

There a Poe's law corollary here somewhere.