My sincerest apologies, but you're about witness something that you might very well find distasteful. I am am about to (again) come to the defense of Michele Bachmann. (I know! I know! And just a day after Jon Stewart did the same ting. It feels… dirty.)
Anyway, so, as we all know, Michele Bachmann is well known for pointing her finger and shrieking her banshee wail at President Obama's "orgy" of socialistic federal spending and issuing outraged statements about her "outrage that hardworking and responsible Americans are being shackled with the debts from bloated spending by our federal government."
So, it seems kinda bad and hypocrite-y when something like this comes out…
A Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Huffington Post with three separate federal agencies reveals that on at least 16 separate occasions, Bachmann petitioned the federal government for direct financial help or aid. A large chunk of those requests were for funds set aside through President Obama's stimulus program, which Bachmann once labeled "fantasy economics." Bachmann made two more of those requests to the Environmental Protection Agency, an institution that she has suggested she would eliminate if she were in the White House.
Taken as a whole, the letters underscore what Bachmann's critics describe as a glaring distance between her campaign oratory and her actual conduct as a lawmaker. Combined with previous revelations that Bachmann personally relied on a federally subsidized home loan while her husband's business benefited from Medicaid payments, it appears that one of the Tea Party's most cherished members has demonstrated that the government does, in fact, play a constructive role — at least in her life and district.
"It had been a longstanding tradition in Congress to be fiscally conservative in every other district other than your own," said John Feehery, president of QGA Communications and a top adviser to former Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert. "Bachmann apparently is being a traditionalist."
Cut and dry case of political hypocrisy at its basest, right? If Bachmann hates government money going towards the improvement of people's lives so much, shouldn't she reject the idea of requesting any of it for her own district (or family business)? Maybe… But maybe probably not, I think. And, if you care (which you probably don't), I'll explain myself.
Such a criticism seems uncomfortably similar to the one that conservatives throw around any time a wealthy progressive calls for more taxation for the rich. ("I don't see this person offering up any more of his money to the IRS.") Or gloating over the size of a moneyed environmentalist's home. ("Where's his love for precious Mother Earth when it comes time to heat his mansion?") Are these arguments any less valid than whether or not an anti-spending congressperson utilizes government money that is going to be spent one way or another? I personally think they're all invalid.
In all cases, the subject of the conundrum is calling for overall sweeping policy changes, not individual sacrifices. Now, I don't agree with Michele Bachmann's ideas about government spending (or the lack thereof to the point of dessicating our infrastructure and middle class). But what's the use in allowing (from her perspective) ill-gotten money to get wasted on building hippy camps and erecting statues to Barack Obama and Karl Marx (again, her perspective) when it could go toward… I don't know, buying anti-immigration scope rifles and catapolting letters to God up into the sky or whatever she ended up using that money for? I'm certainly willing to sit quietly while somebody berates me about how wrong I am (Hi, Matt!), but I just don't see how this is an ethical problem for her.
All that said, Michele Bachmann looks like she smells like cheap perfume and old Starlight Mints. Yuck. Please make her your presidential nominee, Republicans!
Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: EPA, House of Representatives, Michele Bachmann, Money, Primaries, Republicans, Stimulus