I’m so old I remember when Matt Taibbi skewered the powerful, not just the latest Face of Right-Wing Evil to pearl-clutching liberals. I also remember a time when Sarah Palin was, without dispute, the crazed Christian monster who Must Be Stopped. Now, as demonstrated by Taibbi’s latest piece for Rolling Stone, that role has been taken by Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann.
Now, Bachmann isn’t exactly a sympathetic character. And, like any other public figure, she’s more than deserving of a good, rhetorical-guns-blazing take down. But — to hop on my little hobby horse — when the U.S. is engaged in a half-dozen wars, with the president openly and defiantly violating the supposed law of the land with his bombing of Libya, it seems to me that Rolling Stone’s energy would be better spent going after the guy with the blood of poor foreigners on his hands rather than some batty lawmaker from Minnesota engaged in a vanity run for the White House. Not that she should just be ignored, but let’s leave the Bachmann bashing to the local alternative weeklies and blogs, which have done such a good job covering the congresswoman that Taibbi based the bulk of his article on their work (his editor says Taibbi’s citations were removed due to space constraints).
Taibbi’s piece is lightweight liberal catnip, a reaffirmation of every good Democrat’s belief that the dangerous crazies are on the other side. It’s big on Taibbi’s trademark rhetorical beatings and . . . that’s about it. And the hits it takes at Bachmann, who is one hell of a big target, are at times curious. For example, Taibbi notes that, after an unsatisfying stint as a public school teacher, Bachmann “was soon mobilizing against an educational-standards program called Profile of Learning, an early precursor to No Child Left Behind”:
Under the program, state educators and local businesses teamed up to craft a curriculum that would help young people prepare for the work force — but Bachmann saw through their devious scheme. “She thought it was a socialist plot to turn our children into little worker-automatons,” says Bill Prendergast, a Stillwater resident who wrote for the town’s newspaper and has documented every step of Bachmann’s career.
Of all the things to criticize Bachmann for, we’re singling out her opposition to “an early precursor to No Child Left Behind”? Are you, to channel Taibbi, fucking kidding me?
While Taibbi’s source, Daily Kos blogger Bill Predergast, mocks Bachmann for believing the program to “help young people prepare for the work force” — language presumably taken verbatim from the local chamber of commerce — is aimed at turning children into “little worker-automatons,” the mockery seems to me utterly mistaken. The reason businessmen support preparing young people “for the work force” is not because their altruists, but because they’re self-interested capitalists: every dollar the state spends on worker training is a dollar they don’t have to spend themselves. While perhaps a tad rhetorically over the top (not entirely, in my view), it’s not all that far-fetched to believe programs sponsored by businessmen are aimed creating a ready supply of worker-automatons in order to benefit — shockingly! — businessmen.
But hey, who am I to get in the way of a feel-good bashing of liberals’ latest loony, right-wing enemy of the month? One can knock the practice, but it’s certainly a hell of a lot more fun taking down the other team’s crazies than soberly addressing the respectable and sane mass murderers from your own.