MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was in high dudgeon the other night over Rep. Michele Bachmann’s claim that the Founding Fathers "worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States ."
Matthews called her a "balloon head."
The founders, several of whom owned slaves, were long gone by the 1860s, when the Civil War and the 13th Amendment to the constitution ended slavery.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper also took Bachmann to task on his TV show. He said Bachmann "airbrushed herself some new history" and suggested her comments were "either a deliberate rewriting of our history or signs that she has a shaky grasp" about what happened in the early days of our republic.
"Bachmann and others like her have elevated smug ignorance of the historical record to a virtue," said John Hennen, a Morehead, Ky. , State University historian and author.
Bachmann's bizarre take on the founders and slavery reminded Hennen of a 2004 New York Times Magazine article by Ron Suskind. He quoted an unnamed aide to President George W. Bush:
"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'... 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.'"
Concluded Hennen: "Once someone like Bachmann understands that having a knowledge base rooted in reality and evidence is unimportant, things get a lot easier."
Hennen also said Bachmann jogged his memory of the late 1980s when Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed revved up the Christian Coalition on behalf of the GOP. "There is now a whole crew of good looking, congenial, ruthless, empty headed Republican congresspeople who came out of that movement. Bachmann is one of them."
Anyway, liberal hearts doubtless beat with joy when Matthews and Cooper lit into Bachmann, a Tea Party heroine. Liberals think the more nutty far-right-wingers like Bachmann blab, the more likely John and Jane Q. Public are bound to turn against them and the Tea Party.
Maybe liberals are right. But Bachmann baloney -- no matter how moldy -- never causes the faithful heartburn. When her hand gets called by the likes of Matthews and Cooper, the true believers see her as "martyred" yet again by the "liberal media elite."
Tea Party types are cool with Bachmann because she loves what they love -- guns and the Good Lord, for instance. And she disdains what they disdain -- immigrants, gay people and the “Kenyan” “Muslim Marxist” in the White House whose "plan" is "white slavery" come to mind.
Folks in the political mainstream -- liberals and conservatives --think elected officials ought to know their stuff – like history, economics and world affairs. This union card-carrying Hubert Humphrey Democrat believes people we vote to represent us in Washington should be smart.
Yet “smart” seems to translate as “smarty-pants” and “elitist” to Bachmann, the Tea Party and the rest of the uber right-wing political and media roost. The whole kit and caboodle remind me of a 2008 survey by some political scientists at Duke and Georgia State universities. They found that when some people are shown incontrovertible proof that what they believe is dead wrong, they become even more convinced that they are dead right.
It’s like the ancient tongue-in-cheek aphorism says: “My mind’s made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.”