Good Wednesday morning Fellow Seekers,
Here’s another example of state Sen. Michele Bachmann’s possible rhetorical overreach, consistent with the theme of “Is Bachmann too Extreme? Is Wetterling coherent enough?”
While covering the May 6 convention at which Bachmann gained the GOP endorsement for the Sixth Congressional District, I was startled to hear her describe herself as presenting voters with an alternative to the “totalitarianism” that was offered by her opponent.
Was Bachmann portraying Patty Wetterling, or Democrats in general, as totalitarians, a word associated with Stalinist dictators?
During the break after her speech, I asked her Bachmann if that was her intent. She assured me that she had not said it, but had only used the word as part of a quotation from Ronald Reagan’s famous 1964 “a time for choosing” speech in which, on behalf of Barry Goldwater’s presidential candidacy, Reagan did indeed describe “totalitarianism” as the alternative America faced if it did not choose correctly.
That wasn’t what my notes indicated, but Bachmann was insistent and I mushed up what I wrote for the next day’s paper because I lost confidence in my transcription.
Later, I acquired a tape of the passage. Here’s what Bachmann said:
Bachmann: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I will offer you a clear choice between the central planners, with their philosophy of totalitarianism.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just like Ronald Reagan said in his famous Ã¢â‚¬ËœTime for ChoosingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ speech, and it still is our issue for this day.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœWill we either choose between up or down. Will we choose going down to the ant-heap of totalitarianism where government makes our choices for us, or will we choose to go up for economic freedom and for prosperity.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
“I will be that voice for you this November. And to the voters of the Sixth District, I will be the articulate clear choice between failed government solutions on the Democrat side and the positive voice that we have on the Republican ticket.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a woman on a mission. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m on a mission to preserve freedom. And I want you, I ask for your vote this morning to send me there on that mission.Ã¯Â¿Â½?
It’s clear enough that Bachmann quoted Reagan in the second and third sentences of that passage. But the first sentence plainly states that she, Bachmann, in 2006, represents the clear choice against “the central planners, with their philosophy of totalitarianism.”
And since there is no Communist Party candidate in the race and she is running against Wetterling and John Binkowski (and, at that time, Elwyn Tinklenberg was still a possibility), who else could she have meant by “the central planners, with their philosophy of totalitarianism?”
After acquiring the tape, I told Bachmann that she had, apparently quoted Reagan, but also, in her own voice, had described herself as the contemporary alternative to totalitarianism.
Bachmann said that she had meant to use “totalitarianism” only as part of the Reagan quote. And she did not think that contemporary Democrats represented totalitarianism.
But she does believe that her approach to government represents freedom and individual choice, while the other (Democratic) approach is “a bureaucratic central planning approach” that “tends toward socialism.”