National: Rove Likes Bachmann!
Wow. I can’t believe the number of people who tuned in to this page to read the “Bush cursing like a madman” piece I posted last week. What is the lesson there? I usually try to maintain high standards of good taste for this publication, but when I write up a foul-mouthed rant for the President and post it the customers all come in droves. I guess that is part of the secret of the man's extraordinary popularity; he is the born-again Christian with the potty-mouth and folks just love that, for some reason. Maybe that’s how he tries to appeal to the kids; who knows.
Anyway—my day at the Rove-Bachmann fundraiser. I was not actually admitted to the building, of course (since, by the grace of our local powers-that-be, I am no longer a “credentialed member of the press.”) But I did get down there with a camera to take a few pictures outside the building.
You can learn a lot about the nature of the Republican beast by studying these images. First and most importantly: no pictures of Bachmann. Didn’t see hide nor hair of her the whole day—apparently she stayed holed up within the fastnesses of the Water Street Inn the whole time; keeping well away from the questions of her troublesome constituents. She clearly did not want to be seen with Rove out on the streets of Stillwater. The Gazette, our local daily, was forced to run separate file photos of Bachmann and Rove in their coverage of the event.
“No public photos with Rove” was probably a wise decision on Bachmann's part. It would have led to public domain images of Bachmann posing with Bush’s “politics of dividing America” mastermind. Such pictures would end up posted on blogs and in opposition campaign literature and maybe in TV ads, too. This day was about giving Michelle another crack at the big money; not about providing voters with more evidence of her commitment to divisive, wedge-issue politics.
So my guess is, her Congressional run will be a tightly controlled, big money "TV camera" candidacy; at least it will be when Bachmann’s on her supposed home turf. Her record of representing Stillwater on local issues is pretty crummy, so it is likely that grass roots opposition in her own district will remain unacknowledged and she will continue to avoid local constituents who deplore her political extremism.
Thus: the first time I saw Bachmann all day was on the evening TV news. She could be heard off-camera during the Rove sound byte, laughing hysterically at a memorably unfunny reference Rove made to the Stillwater Bridge. That seems to be one of the unwritten rules for an ambitious Republican--laugh hysterically at the “jokes” of the most powerful person in the room; it shows you have the right sort of character.
Next: Rove’s entrance and exit. The most tightly guarded I’ve ever seen in small town Minnesota. He had front men and flak catchers, local police, etc. covering his entrance and exits from the building. Didn’t want anybody taking his picture for free. He came in through the back door and he left through a different back door, carefully avoiding all the Americans outside who’d shown up to catch a glimpse of him. You wouldn’t know this was a public relations event from the “heavy security” approach applied to his arrival and departure. A very “South American dictator” style entrance-and-exit, considering that he was appearing here in the heartland and in a Republican-trending district.
It is true that Rove took a little verbal abuse as he attempted to sneak out the back way (“Benedict Arnold!” yelled one guy in the crowd; a reference to Rove's alleged security leak.) But he took it smilingly as his people made a corridor for him though the crowd. Security volunteers kept them from getting close enough for questions or taking a really good photo.
But see; there he is in his rented car, smiling, headed out of town, didn’t stop to say hello or goodbye to us folks outside (we weren’t paying the big bucks to talk to him.)
The protestors also took a little verbal abuse too, while Rove was inside. A dad passing by with his two young children called demonstrators “pot smokers” and “lesbians.” (I didn’t see any; but it’s so hard to tell just by looking at someone.) Demonstrators also drew some applause and some yells in support from folks driving or walking by.
Do not believe what you read in the local paper about the size of the crowd; there weren't a mere twenty people there—I would say there were about fifty. Some people seemed to have come down as part of an organized group--other locals (like my wife and I) just showed up. I guess the local reporter was only counting the people who stood in front of the building and carried signs--there were others all around the building trying to catch Rove as he made his secretive entrance and exit. These included some seniors who showed up but preferred to stay seated.
According to those inside, Rove’s remarks were unremarkable and rather disappointing to people who hoped to hear him denounce someone or something. That, too, is probably by design; Bachmann’s Sixth District run is going to be another one of her “stealth candidacies.” It’s probably been decided that in order to win this election she needs to downplay her right wing Christian fundamentalist politics; her fundamentalist base is already “in the bag,” so she can only attract more votes by trying to deceive people who don’t know who she really is and what she really stands for.
And so, she strikes the “mainstream” Republican pose--again. So far she has been quite successful with this; the biggest newspapers around simply refuse to identify her as a Christian fundamentalist politician. I can only guess why they won’t acquaint their readers with her very public fundamentalist rhetoric and policy proposals (e.g. when she suggested that creationist theories be taught in public schools along with evolution, etc. etc.) I suppose the big papers are afraid of alienating powerful Republican advertisers and a large number of Christian readers by identifying Bachmann for what she is. One more reason why I continue to get my news directly off the wire instead of subscribing to the Strib or PiPress; I don’t like people editing reality to make extremists seem more mainstream.
In the papers she claimed her top priority was education (even though her record on funding public education is abysmal.) Another example of the “stealth fundamentalist candidacy;” claiming education as a top priority sounds more mainstream than her notorious top priority for the last few years--when she was publicly identifying gay marriage as “the” issue of our times, a threat to our civilization, and the reason she stopped the work of the state legislature for a session.
Now these next photos are downright creepy, and you won’t see them in any of the papers. Prior to the rally, when the demonstrators began to arrive, this hefty fellow in a suit and tie was videotaping them from inside the Water Street Inn, so I assume he was somehow associated with the Bachmann event.
Later he came out and started photographing them outside the building, too—didn’t seem interested in recording anything except the people who were protesting the Bachmann/Rove event. I asked him who he was, whether or not he was with the Bachmann/Rove event, why he was videotaping the people who were protesting—and he refused to say! Refused to even answer me; just stared straight ahead and frowned. Isn’t that weird? Does anyone recognize him? Heavyset guy; in his twenties; a little Van Dyke beard?
Very KGB for a small town America political event, I think—recording the faces of people who protest, and refusing to say who you are and why you’re doing it. What, are they making some kind of “list” for future reference? Welcome to Karl Rove’s America; Michele Bachmann’s Minnesota.