Tea Party doyenne Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has made a career out of fringe thinking, and appearing on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 the day after this month’s election, she insisted that President Obama was spending $200 million a day at taxpayers’ expense on his trip to India — a whopping falsehood that was “repeated by nearly ever conservative pundit in the land: Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, Drudge. Always with a healthy dose of indignation.”
However, organizations concerned with facts — such as ABC, the Wall Street Journal, Politifact, Factcheck.org, the Secret Service, and the Pentagon — summarily debunked Bachmann’s accusation as false and outlandish (for comparison, the war in Afghanistan costs about $190 million a day).
But now, her blatant untruth telling is chaffing even some of her conservative champions. In a follow up segment on Cooper’s show last night, conservative Red State blogger and CNN contributor Erick Erickson called Bachmann’s $200 million claim “absurd” and an affront to “commonsense.” Erickson added, “she probably should have come out and said she’s wrong”:
GUPTA: Eric, is this crazy, or is this calculated? I mean, it’s got a lot of people talking. And maybe she’s not quite ready for prime time, some of her colleagues are saying. What do you make of this?
ERICKSON: I think this goes beyond trying to keep politicians honest to going into the absurd. You know, I — I saw that report on November 2nd, during election night, while I was on studio in — at CNN. It was on The Drudge Report. She clicked through it. It was a media report out of India. It seemed like, when she was talking to Anderson about it on the 3rd, it seemed very clear she was basing her opinion based on that story, which was wrong, but was quoted all over the place. [...]
GUPTA: I — Erick, I — I get that. I understand that. But, look, I mean, is there a greater level of accountability that someone like her needs to have? $200 million a day, Erick, is what that unnamed official in the overseas wire article said….I mean, it — it doesn’t pass the commonsense test.
ERICKSON: You or I, Sanjay, wouldn’t have said it, but she did. You know, it — it doesn’t for you or for me, and I don’t think she should have said it. I think she probably should have come out and said she was wrong. But that was November 3rd, and — and she has moved on, and the rest of us haven’t.
Watch the segment (Erickson begins at 4:30):
While Erickson is correct in pointing out Bachmann’s absurdity, he is wrong in defending her by saying she has “moved on” from her claim. Two weeks after her “fact” withered under scrutiny, she is still refusing to back away from it, defending the claim in a BBC interview last week. What’s more, Bachmann took the opportunity to stand by another ridiculous charge she made in 2008 that President Obama is “very anti-American.” This McCarthyism, however, somehow strikes Erickson as “one billion percent on the money,” as he wrote on Red State today.
If a past filled with fantastical accusations is any indication, there’s no telling where she’ll stop now. After all, she has a rare Politifact “all-false/pants on fire” record to maintain. As Gupta, who was filling in for Cooper, put it last night, “many politicians say things for effect. And then they try to unsay them when someone puts them on the spot. But some do it more than others. And Ms. Bachmann, well, she seems to have a history.”