Dear Commons Community,
Charles Blow in today’s New York Times comments on the state of the Republican Party and what he terms its “[Michele] Bachmann Problem”. He cites data from a recent Pew Research Center survey that indicates the Republican Party’s image is at an historic low with 62% of the public saying the GOP is out of touch with the American people, 56% think it is not open to change and 52% say the party is too extreme. Opinions about the Democratic Party are mixed, but the party in general is viewed more positively than the GOP.
Blow cites Andrew Kohut, the founding director of the Pew Research Center, who pointed out in The Washington Post on Friday that the party’s ratings “now stand at a 20-year low,” and that is in part because “the outsize influence of hard-line elements in the party base is doing to the G.O.P. what supporters of Gene McCarthy and George McGovern did to the Democratic Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s — radicalizing its image and standing in the way of its revitalization.”
Blow blames hardliners such as Michele Bachmann who deal in hyperbole and who are fact-challenged: For example: “PolitiFact rated two of her claims during her CPAC speech last Saturday as “pants on fire” false. The first was that 70 cents of every dollar that’s supposed to go to the poor actually goes to salaries and pensions of bureaucrats. The second was that scientists could have a cure for Alzheimer’s in 10 years if it were not for “a cadre of overzealous regulators, excessive taxation and greedy litigators.
And in a speech Thursday on the House floor, she said of the federal health care law:
“The American people, especially vulnerable women, vulnerable children, vulnerable senior citizens, now get to pay more and they get less. That’s why we’re here, because we’re saying let’s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens.”
“People like Bachmann represent everything that is wrong with the Republican Party. She and her colleagues are hyperbolic, reactionary, ill-informed and ill-intentioned, and they have become synonymous with the Republican brand. We don’t need all politicians to be Mensa-worthy, but we do expect them to be cogent and competent.
When all the dust settles from the current dustup within the party over who holds the mantle and which direction to take, Republicans will still be left with the problem of what to do with people like Bachmann.
And as long as the party has Bachmanns, it has a problem.”
A problem indeed!!