I Had One of Those Flashes

Beth Ingalls

Beth Ingalls
October 30
Writer, activist, former Mayor, lifelong Deadhead, and above all else, single Mother to three sons. Killer memoir in the works. Agent needed.


Editor’s Pick
JUNE 29, 2011 12:55PM

Bachmann, Angle, Palin: Triumvirate of Tea Party Idiocracy

Rate: 14 Flag

teabag for jesus 

With supporters like these, who needs detractors?

I normally try to be supportive of other women in politics in spite of their party or positions since I was once in politics myself. Like Sarah Palin, I'm a former small town mayor. As far as commonalities with her, the bus stops there. But it's a real juggling act trying to maintain a home, keep your children fed, clothed and supported in all their activities, all while putting yourself up for contiunous public scrutiny and attending a never-ending stream of meetings and events. There should be a certain kind of sisterhood in that.

But Representative Michelle Bachmann's recent statements have taken me back to haunting memories of both Sharron Angle's and Palin’s major gaffes and historical flubs along the campaign trail, and I just have to ask myself... how can these female Tea Party candidates get so far and be such complete idiots?

The Tea Party prides itself in defending the constitution and reveling in the proud history of our country. Tea partiers love to invoke historical precedents and wax nostalgic about historical events. You'd think that they would know their facts, or at the very least, check their facts, before opening their mouths.

Bachmann, on a now famous campaign stop in New Hampshire several months ago, stated that the Revolutionary War began there in the cities of Lexington and Concord. Since the majority of middle school students know this event took place in Massachusetts, her Facebook correction after the fact didn't count. She had already gotten an "F" -  and there aren't any do-overs.

The media's been abuzz the last few days after Bachmann's assertions that our Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end the institution of slavery. Wrong! After being called out on the absurdity her statements, she didn't do anything to correct herself.  She compounded the problem by saying this on Good Morning America yesterday with George Stephanopolous:

"Well, John Quincy Adams most certainly was a part of the Revolutionary War era. He was a young boy but he was actively involved."

Say what?

Why didn't her campaign staff just google "Founding Fathers or John Quincy Adams" and prep her so she could set the record straight? Or, on second thought, why didn't she just pull a random fifth grader off the street and asked him to clarify the details for her?


And it's not just history lessons these Tea Party women manage to mangle. Remember when Sharron Angle said this:

"So that's what we want is a secure and sovereign nation and, you know, I don't know that all of you are Latino. Some of you look a little more Asian to me. I don't know that. What we know, what we know about ourselves is that we are a melting pot in this country. My grandchildren are evidence of that. I'm evidence of that. I've been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly." -- Sharron Angle, speaking to a group of Hispanic high school students, Oct. 15, 2010


And how can we ever forget this gem from Sarah Palin in 2008 when asked to name a Supreme Court decision other than Roe v. Wade that she disagreed with:

''Well, let's see. There's — of course in the great history of America there have been rulings that there's never going to be absolute consensus by every American, and there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So, you know, going through the history of America, there would be others but —'' --Sarah Palin in an interview with Katie Couric, CBS News, Oct. 1, 2008

These remarks just scratch the surface. There are whole pages and websites devoted to misquotes and missteps from Bachmann, Angle and Palin that clearly demonstate their incompetence. But here's the thing. With Michelle Bachmann now at the top of the pack of potential 2012 GOP candidates, will her Tea Party supporters ever bother to really scrutinize her like the rest of us are doing? Ron Carey, a former aide to Bachmann, wants people to know she is not ready to be president. He wrote this in an Op-Ed in the Des Moines register that just came off the presses today:

"The Bachmann campaign and congressional offices I inherited were wildly out of control... If she is unable, or unwilling, to handle the basic duties of a campaign or congressional office, how could she possibly manage the magnitude of the presidency?"

The Tea Party is much more interested in having an attractive mouthpiece for their extreme views than caring about the accuracy of what their candidate says, or whether that person can handle silly details like running an office, or a country.


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The images used here are from a slideshow I found on About.com.
Yeah, as a woman these women, and some others, really bother me. Well, there's Ron Paul as a male "moran" and a raft of others. I guess equality means ... oh shit, it's just depressing...
Depressing sums it up Myriad, for sure! Thanks for the comment.
There are people who are enthusiastic about Buchmann and Palin and some of the other jokers the Republicans are touting.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

We have as much to worry about from the electorate in this country...as from the people they elect.
Well said Frank! these pictures prove your point, don't they?
The Get a Brain Morans image might be fitting to illustrate your point if it had not been hanging around the Internet since about 2003...long before the tea party started attracting illiterate sign makers.


But otherwise, I think your analysis is right on.
bbd - thanks for pointing that out about the sign...I guess he was a precursor to the tea party timewise, but morans are timeless, are they not? To say he was on the "cutting edge" lol/seems like an oxymoron! ha :)
Love the mullet on the "morans" joker. I wonder if he knows that the Cardinals biggest star, Albert Pujols, is Latino.

It's interesting you mentioned Idiocracy, Beth. That was supposed to be a satirical movie. Unfortunately, it's just this side of a documentary these days.

You hear people say they want a regular guy to be President. I don't. I want someone smarter than me. I wouldn't trust a regular guy to run a grocery store, much less the country!
I do not support a candidate because she is a woman. I support her because she is a qualified woman. If men supported candidates because they are men, how do they choose between them????
What do you think W would have said to any of those questions???
The mess makers need to fix their problems but they are blind. And so is half of the glass.
Good piece. Reminds me of something we used to hear when I was in high school: we will know we have made it as women when women of mediocre ability rise to positions of power. Still doesn't make accepting the Palins, Angles, and Bachmanns any easier. Thanks for writing this story.
Liberal South.Dem.: I think you missed my point up front. There's a difference between "being supportive" (ie: finding commonality with other women in politics) and supporting (voting for). I don't like to trash other women in politics period - I don't think that helps. But that doesn't mean I would ever vote for someone because she is a woman.

Obviously, in the case of these three, I make an exception and am fine with outright trashing.

Just to clarify if my views may not be clear - I'm a disenfranshised progressive democrat who will probably be re-registering any day now to an "I".

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated!

Tony: great point about the regular guy thing. I agree completely - smart is good!
Three peaches in a basket full of plums. The anti-intellect party seems to think just about anyone can run the country as long as they are no better than a C student. That is an extremely disturbing social problem when the proud Tea Party membership is as high as it is.It doesn't bode well for the quality of our voters. It kind of dilutes the whole pool, if you know what I mean.

Sad that they can't see through Palin's narcissistic ruse. I agree that she has star power, but so does Lady Gaga. That doesn't mean she should run the country.
Bachmann has shown that she's even worse than Palin.

When Heart told the McCain campaign to stop playing "Barracuda" because having that song played at her events made them feel "fucked over," it didn't happen anymore.

Tom Petty told Bachmann to stop playing "American Girl" and she continues to use that song.

So much for respecting the intellectual property of others.

I posted about it, and I'd welcome any responses.
I hear tell that Michelle Bachmann scored 100% on a quiz that questioned the number of states in the Union, the current date, the meaning of Veterans Day, the pronunciation of "corpsman," and the age of her children.

Given that we're currently suffering a president that has no business experience, who runs through economic advisers upon whom he is totally dependent like Zsa Zsa Gabor runs through husbands, and who has mucked up U.S.-Israeli-Islam relations royally, I think anyone would be an improvement.
You forgot the "lady" from Delaware.
It used to be "funny". Not funny anymore....this country is decaying by the minute. Mediocrity rises to the surface on every level: political, scientific, academic...on and on.....We are being left behind and this is not Obama's fault or doing but I wish he would show some leadership on our moral, ethical decay.
I agree completely. These women give women in politics a sour slant and a bad name. It is very unfortunate because once again, we need leadership. Intelligent leadership. There are plenty of intelligent women leaders out there and for some reason, they haven't stepped up.
yea forget them crazy conservaties, they say silly stuff.
like obama saying he'd been to all 57 states or signing the guest book at westminster abby with the wrong date (year). what about obama going aroun pushing the stimulis bill saying there are all these SHOVEL READY JOBS gunna put millions to work. just recently he was on camera laughing about those so called jobs. in fact before that he said there were NO shovel ready jobs. did he LIE or was it just silly talk ?
Zsa Zsa Gabor is running for President? Excellent!
The only thing I don't understand is this. Why does everybody keep saying "attractive?" Nice post, well thought out. R
Thoth- I hear ya on the "attractive" thing. I personally don't see them that way - the opposite - but I think by accepted normal american standards, they are able to come across as such. For me, once they open their mouths, the illusion is gone!
Attractive? Sarah Palin needs a new look, badly.

As for Bachmann she wears more mascara than Tammy Faye. You'd think her gay husband would give her some make-up advice.
good to see you, Beth. I continue to hear that people find the mistakers these women make to be, um, "cute" or "folksy" or "just the kind of thing I might mess up and why is the liberal press making such a gosh darn big deal out of it, anyway?"

Which explains so much and not nearly enough...
Liberals are showing their true fetid colors by these comments on Palin's and Bachmann's looks.

I guess it's a matter of taste. I think that for these people, Helen Thomas should be Miss Universe. (If the gagging reflex has subsided, I'll continue) I guess Hillary Clinton's latest hair-do is a real turn-on. And if you're into mega-butts, the other Michelle is everyone's dream.

For Christ's sake, can't you liberals get past the envy/hatred axis?
Bachmann is a handsome woman; Palin is clearly pretty. So what? Live with it. We can't all look like that cluck (an overaged chick) from the DNC whose hair is used to remove corks from wine bottles. The fact that you get bogged down on looks is a dead giveaway that you are threatened by them and their policies.

And where are the women who champion dignity and equality for women? NOW, for example. Answer : MIA, clearly attesting that their agenda is political not humanitarian.

In a way it's refreshing that these irrelvant personal attacks are being launched by men. Usually it's plain females that are at the fore.
Not that anyone here would notice, but it should be "irrelevant."
"Envy"? What is there to envy abou these useless sacks of flesh?

If they had an original thought it would strike them dead.

They mouth the right neo-fascists memes, smile "pretty," and we're all supposed to be SO impressed.
". . . these useless sacks of flesh?"

Seriously, ladies, aren't there any among you who are horrified by this kind of comment? Have your political views totally eclipsed your sexual loyalty and basic humanity?
Captain Cranky approves, but watch out where and how you comment in the future or your OS stature will be diminished.
"Sexual loyalty"?

What is that?
If "sexual loyalty" is too tough for you, go with "basic humanity."
I agree! We can--and must--do better!
Your last paragraph sums it up perfectly. An "attractive mouthpiece" is all they're looking for. This is where presidential politics has been heading for awhile now, as the mainstream media drifts farther and farther away from substance and focuses more and more exclusively on trivialities. What a candidate says is no longer as important as how they say it.

Particularly on the Republican side, the messages are all pre-packaged anyway, and the only choice among candidates (except for those who include things like drug legalization or withdrawal from Afghanistan in their platforms) is which of these candidates can deliver the talking points in a way most pleasing to the base.

Unfortunately for women, conservative men tend to like their talking points delivered by attractive females, and thoughts of competence or intelligence don't factor in.

The truly frightening thing from my point of view living overseas is how America's already badly tarnished reputation would be damaged beyond all hope of repair if a Palin or Bachmann were to become the first female President of the United States. Just as people see Angela Merkel as representative of all German women, imagine the frustration of being an American woman overseas if people saw Bachmann as representative of them.
As a way left winger, this is the sort of post I have trouble with. And it's actually given a wingnut troll a small piece of high ground on which to get a foothold. (He wasted it, wingnuts not being accustomed to holding any kind of higher ground, but that's another discussion.)

Here's the thing: Remarks about Sarah's or Michelle's "looks" or "attractiveness" are as condescending and petty as those the wingnuts make about Hillary and Nancy. It's not OK tosay "physical qualities shouldn't matter" and then talk about them as if they matter. Leave the shallow, superficial analysis of physical attractiveness to the wingnuts...as we see from Gordon's comments nobody can get as shallow and superficial as they can.

Second: Sarah's and Michelle's gaffes are hilarious and I love when they get echoed around the room. Those gaffes are the very reason I was happy to see Michelle throw her hat in the ring. But as soon as we say, "She's stupid," we're being elitist and, again, condescending. I think it's funny as heck that she stands in NH and congratulates it for being the place where the Revolutionary War started but, I guarantee, their are a lot of folks who are thinking, "It wasn't?" That's not what makes her a bad choice to lead our nation. (I would agree, though, that a belief that the Constitution sought to end slavery gets out of the "gaffe" territory and into the "you really should know better" territory.)

I defer to no one in my ability and willingness to insult, deride, mock, and abuse the party of wingnuts and freaks that is the GOP. But a focus on physical attributes and the ability to do well at "History Trivia" just makes us seem elitist.
Great little piece, Beth!

If you don't know basic US History, then how can you expect to lead the US? Come on, people. If nothing else, Beth points out the most salient point: When you get in front of the public and speak openly, shouldn't you be as prepared as possible? It's not just makeup, hairstyles and fashion sense. It's being mentally prepared to answer questions on the fly, as well as being prepared to speak on the subjects of your speech and the things you intend to use to generate excitement, enthusiasm and accord.

It's not just women in politics. Dan Quayle, George H. W. Bush, Gerald Ford, even all managed to say some pretty vapid things. President Obama definitely has made some mis-spoken comments as well.

We shouldn't hold small gaffes against them. I think it's the substance of their message that's important. Unfortunately, the substance of the Tea Party and the Republican Party in general is this: We don't like people who have ideas and thoughts different from ours. If you don't like what we have to say, then you're not a patriot. If you think we're wrong, that's because you listen to those smartypants edumacated folks who are rooning this country.

And that's what frightens me. Thanks, Beth, for injecting a point of view in the fray that makes enough sense from a woman politician's point of view that ultimately takes the woman out of the majority of the picture. In other words, speaking from your perspective, we can ignore that these other three political candidates are women and focus on their inability to actually competently carry out the functions of their office.

Loved the signs. Too bad magic markers don't come with a spellcheck function. And, for the record, I have always preferred Maroon over Moran.

I'd tip you, except that the current political landscape (and this was created 10 years ago) has put me in the unenviable position of being a 'displaced' worker with skills that are only now in demand in China, India, Pakistan and Malaysia. I can't afford that commute.
Well we ARE elitists. We're for rationality and Truth.
Thx to all who have taken the time to read and comment since I last checked in. Inisightful - every one of them. And much appreciated to keep the discussion going. Captain Cranky's confuses me though.
Why are you focusing on women? Aren't there any men who goof up? While professing sisterhood, you seem to be playing to the yahoos (not the Web site) who have a bias against women in public office.

Actually there is at least one man who goofs up. He is the president of the United States. During the campaign he stated that he had visited 57 of the 58 states. He stated that Emperor Hirohito came aboard the battleship Missouri to surrender to MacArthur. He has made a lot of other goofs, and if you want more examples, just ask. Should we impeach him?

The three women you are focusing on are down-the-line conservatives. I gather that this doesn't accord with your own views, and so be it. However, they are not idiots, although it may be be that they might not score well on a trivia test that just about every other elected public official would fail. The true test is how they would govern.

What really bothers you, I dare say, is that very point -- how they might govern. You may find that in 2012 well over half the nation will find that prospect preferable to what we have now.
Loud and Clear. America has more shows about dysfunction than function. PBA Trio are heard only because many, many, many feel lost and hopeless until they hear a Tea Party or PBA Trio. Bush helped build that base. Rational people are not as strident. See. And, most people just don't vote because they are too busy to actually stop and listen to viral. This is why FoxyChannel is so well done because its programming asks nothing of the viewer.

Discourse requires preparation. Wide reading and thought with oneself and then within polliticks. Not many people read- it involves time and boob tube is a great means to escape the pressure of one's life. I think PBA Trio is also a valve- like on a pressure cooker.

I worry about O. I think he must enter the frey. He must pounce on Repros and Demos.

Liked your piece and the photos were un-nerving.
Mr. Louis_ I will be happy to pick on men next time. Perhaps I'll do a segment on men trawling for sex online or in bathrooms. Or maybe, just maybe, I'll find some politicians of either sex to praise!!!

One just never knows what mood will strike. Thanks for taking the time to comment on the post.
There are a lot of idiots in politics. Specifically because anyone can hire a speechwriter who isn't one. Debates are usually when they are weeded out, but some are so well prepared, or coached they can even get by on that.
Ron Paul is a moron, Myriad? Lets see you pass medical school.
What a shame that these are the only women in the running
on the Republican side. Sad indeed.
I have cousins, lots of cousins, on both sides of my family. Growing up, there was always this one who stood out as dimmer than the rest. He is a doctor.
With Bachman and Palin it is about their B- looks ... it hurts to admit the truth, that there are something north of 50 million women in the US South and Midwest who look at them and say, "Hey, that's just like OUR Church Lady at OUR Dispensationalist Church!" The men think, well, she is hot by my remote area I live in standards (Bachman and Palin and could walk in G-Strings down the strip in Waikiki and NO ONE would 'get excited'- they'd say, "Look at those two wishing they were still young- yech!")

As to their 3rd wheel, no accounting for what attracts desert rats.