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That whole anti-American, friend-to-the-terrorists thing about President-elect Barack Obama? Never mind.
Just a few weeks ago, at the height of the campaign, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota told Chris Matthews of MSNBC that, when it came to Mr. Obama, “I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views.”
But there she was on Wednesday, after narrowly escaping defeat because of those comments, saying she was “extremely grateful that we have an African-American who has won this year.” Ms. Bachmann, a Republican, called Mr. Obama’s victory, which included her state, “a tremendous signal we sent.”
And it was not too long ago that Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, accused Mr. Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”
But she took an entirely different tone on Thursday, when she chastised reporters for asking her questions about her war with some staff members in the McCain campaign at such a heady time. “Barack Obama has been elected president,” Ms. Palin said. “Let us, let us — let him — be able to kind of savor this moment, one, and not let the pettiness of maybe internal workings of the campaign erode any of the recognition of this historic moment that we’re in. And God bless Barack Obama and his beautiful family.”
There is a great tradition of paint-peeling political hyperbole during presidential campaign years. And there is an equally great tradition of backing off from it all afterward, though with varying degrees of deftness.
But given the intensity of some of the charges that have been made in the past few months, and the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s election, the exercise this year has been particularly whiplash-inducing, with its extreme before-and-after contrasts.
The shift in tone follows the magnanimous concession speech from Mr. McCain, of Arizona, who referred to Mr. Obama’s victory Tuesday night as “a historic election” and hailed the “special pride” it held for African-Americans. That led the vice president-elect, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., to get into the act. During the campaign, Mr. Biden said he no longer recognized Mr. McCain, an old friend. Now, he says, “We’re still friends.” President Bush, in turn, also hailed Mr. Obama’s victory, saying his arrival at the White House would be “a stirring sight.”
Whether it all heralds a new era of cooperation in Washington remains to be seen, and it may be downright doubtful. But for now, at least, it would seem to be part of an apparent rush to join what has emerged as a real moment in American history.
The presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said she was hard-pressed to find a similar moment when the tone had changed so drastically, and so quickly, among so many people of such prominence.
“I don’t think that’s happened very often,” Ms. Goodwin said. “The best answer I can give you is they don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, and they recognize how the country saw this election, and how people feel that they’re living in a time of great historic moment.”
Others in the professional political class were not so sure. Some wondered whether simple pragmatism was the explanation.
“My experience is, it’s less an epiphany and more a political reality,” said Chris Lehane, a former Democratic strategist who worked on the presidential campaign of Al Gore. “I’m thinking they will continue in this direction so long as the polls indicate it’s a smart place to be.”
There are notable exceptions: Rush Limbaugh has given no quarter. And while his fellow conservative radio hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have noted the significance of his victory — on Wednesday, Ms. Ingraham said “Obama did make history” and “It’s not the time to vilify him” — they seem to be in line with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Relishing his new role in the opposition camp, Mr. O’Reilly said, “The guy is still a mystery, so our oversight will be intense.”
Some lawmakers also do not appear inclined to give up the fight. Representative John A. Boehner, the House minority leader, has already criticized Mr. Obama’s choice of Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, as his chief of staff.
But other people who opposed Mr. Obama, like Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, have good reason to try to make up with the winning ticket. As an ardent backer of Mr. McCain, Mr. Lieberman angered the Democrats, who in 2000 nominated him as their vice-presidential candidate. After losing a Democratic primary challenge in 2006 and then winning as an independent, he still continued to caucus with the Democrats.
Attending an event with Mr. McCain in York, Pa., in August, Mr. Lieberman said the race was “between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not.”
As a speaker at the Republican National Convention, Mr. Lieberman went further than Democrats expected by criticizing Mr. Obama for “voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground.” (Mr. Obama voted for bills that included plans for withdrawal from Iraq and against others that did not.)
This week Mr. Lieberman, who has been asked by the Democratic Senate leadership to consider giving up his position as the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released a statement congratulating Mr. Obama for “his historic and impressive victory.” It continued, “The American people are a people of extraordinary fairness.”
Marshall Wittmann, a spokesman for Mr. Lieberman, said that as far as the senator was concerned, “It’s over, and it’s genuinely time to find unity and move forward behind the new president.”
And what about that whole bit about Mr. Obama not always putting his country first? “He believes that President-elect Obama — and, then, Senator Obama — is a genuine patriot and loves his country,” Mr. Wittmann said. “The only point he was making in his campaign was about partisanship.”
Mr. Obama is apparently ready to bury the hatchet with his new fans. “President-elect Obama has made it clear that he wants to put partisanship behind and work together to solve the many challenges confronting the country,” said Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for the Obama transition team. “We’re pleased that others do as well.”
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who will help decide Mr. Lieberman’s committee assignment, sounded less ready to forgive, at least when it came Mr. Lieberman’s support for Mr. McCain. “Joe Lieberman has done something that I think was improper, wrong, and I’d like — if we weren’t on television, I’d use a stronger word of describing what he did,” he said on CNN Friday.
Here’s the full Bachmann interview with Chris Matthews’ Hardball which almost cost Rep. Michele Bachmann her seat. But more frightening than this singular interview ~ was the overall direction that the Republican Party was preparing to take once elected. Dividing the country into pro-American and anti-American areas, its people into God and the Godless and advocating for McCarthy style checking of ‘liberal’ members of Congress for possible pro and anti-American leanings. Where was McCain planning to take the country if he were elected and how was he planning to control these elements of his Party?
Bachmann praises Obama’s win, now
After suggesting that Barack Obama had anti-American views in an exchange three weeks ago with MSNBC host Chris Matthews, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told Politico Thursday that she was “extremely grateful that we have an African-American who has won this year.” She called his victory “a tremendous signal we sent.”
“I have not seen the United States as a racist nation,” said Bachmann, who represents Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, in the east-central part of the state. “In my district, I don’t sense racism, and that’s why I’m thankful that hopefully this will send a national signal across our country that America is not a nation made up of racists. … On the same hand, I hope that the national media will not confuse disagreement with Obama’s policy positions with being consumed [by] racism.”
Some analysts had written off the linguistically intemperate Bachmann as a casualty of her calamitous “Hardball” interview, but she graduated to being a sophomore in the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s election.
In a telephone interview, Bachman said she was gratified that voters in her district didn’t “let the media intervene” in the race, which she ultimately won by three points over Democratic challenger Elwyn Tinklenberg. But in surveying the wreckage to her party that the election wrought, Bachmann was quick to acknowledge that, going forward, “clearly the views and opinions of conservatives won’t be prevailing.”
As she looks ahead to her next term in Congress, Bachmann, a former U.S. Treasury attorney who now sits on the Financial Services Committee, said she’s hoping for a spot on the House Ways and Means Committee, the panel charged with writing tax legislation and bills affecting Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs. Minnesota Rep. Jim Ramstad, a nine-term Republican who is retiring, is currently the only Minnesotan on that committee.
“My husband and I were Joe the Plumbers,” said Bachmann, referring to the 42-employee Christian therapy business she and her husband started, as well as the ubiquitous plumber from Ohio who was elevated to the status of Everyman during the campaign. “I think my business background and tax background works very well on Ways and Means.”
Bachmann said that she had always expected her race to tighten toward the end, but she seemed willing to accept the connection between her gaffe on “Hardball” and the closeness of her race.
“My opponent did not do a stellar job fundraising,” Bachmann said, noting that it was only after her interview on MSNBC that “there was money coming from [the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and outside money, and that significantly impacted race.” Fundraising records show that her challenger raised more than $1.3 million in a week.
“What that did is, it opened the door for a phenomenal outpouring of negative media coverage. It was the echo chamber of the left media, and it was overwhelming, and that was difficult to overcome that level of vitriol.”
Bachmann said that aggressive Democratic organizing in her district this year, combined with the “great resources they had in trying to defeat me in ’06” made reelection a breakneck climb.
“I had laid a strong foundation,” Bachmann said, explaining how she pulled out the win. “That is something we knew all along. For two years I worked enormously hard in the district.”
“People knew that I am a serious member of Congress, that I take issues seriously, and that I worked extremely hard. … They know I’m not a nuanced politician that waffles and changes my mind with whatever is popular at the moment.”
After raising her national profile in cable news interviews about the presidential race and energy issues, Bachmann said her primary focus going forward will be the concerns of her constituents. She said her party would have to wait to see the specifics of the Democratic agenda, then offer “positive” alternatives.
“It was a decisive win [for Democrats] on every level: presidency, House and Senate,” Bachmann said. “Even in Minnesota, we passed a state sales tax increase. That’s pretty phenomenal when you think about the difficult environment of the economy. The fact we could pass a tax increase and have such a strong Democratic showing … it just shows what an overpowering Democratic year this was, and that’s why I feel very gratified to have survived the storm.”
As reports suggested – Michelle Bachmann wasn’t exactly going to apologize – and by the tone of her ad/ sorry, was that apology statement – she likely still feels that the press or SomeBody should sort through all the members of Congress to determine who is ‘pro-America’ and who is ‘anti-America’.
Frankly whatever that was an ad/apologetic attempt – Michelle Bachmann came across as desperate [Desperate scary].
As she should be – her Democrat opponent has received upwards of $1 million within days of her remarks on Hardball, and to make matters worst, the GOP candidate she beat in the primaries – has now stepped back into the race.
Full Bachmann-Hardball Interview here
Five days after Rep. Michele Bachmann went on a McCarthy-esque rant suggesting Barack Obama was unpatriotic and urging the major newspapers of the country to investigate anti-American sentiment in Congress, the national Republican political parties are running for cover.
Two sources aware of ad buys in Minnesota say that the National Republican Congressional Committee is pulling its media purchases from Bachmann’s race. If true, it is a remarkable fall for a congresswoman who, until recently, seemed relatively safe in her predominantly conservative district. The race had become closer in recent days — the NRCC had transferred funds from Rep. Erik Paulsen (MN-03) to Bachmann a little over a week ago.
In the days following her appearance on Hardball, however, Bachmann has watched as her challenger, El Tinklenberg raised more than a million dollars off her incendiary remarks. That surge in fundraising put Bachmann’s re-election in a far less certain position. Bachmann tried to stem the bleeding by telling the press she was sorry for her remarks. But with the national party now apparently pulling the plug, the situation has gone from bad to worse.