Don't you dare ask the congresswoman about something she said in a speech
By Alex Seitz-Wald
Michele Bachmann has been uncharacteristically quiet since her razor-thin reelection last November, but she emerged loud and proud at CPAC this past weekend to preach to the faithful. Bachmann’s speech focused on the Benghazi attack, but also on the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by President Obama, claiming the first family costs taxpayers $1.4 billion a year in “perks and excess.”
But it won’t come as much of a shock to any Bachmannphile to learn that some of the claims she made in the speech are the opposite of true. It turns out they’re mostly based on a self-published book with few citations written by a longtime Republican lobbyist whom the New York Times once compared to Darth Vader.
The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler has done yeoman’s work in debunking the claims, but even his mighty fact checking is no match for The Bachmann: “There really aren’t enough Pinocchios for such misleading use of statistics in a major speech,” he lamented, sighing heavily over his keyboard as he gazed blankly out the window (we imagine).
For instance: Bachmann almost gets the dollar figure of running the White House correct, but the vast majority of that goes to Secret Service, not perks; Bachmann claims Bo Obama has a full-time dog handler, but he doesn’t, White House groundskeeper Dale Haney has voluntarily walked every presidential dog since Nixon’s (he likes dogs); she says Air Force One has five chefs, but it’s more like cooks, and White House staffers need to pay — $20 per meal — out of their own pockets to eat; she claims 70 percent of the money spent on food stamps goes to bureaucrats, which just isn’t close to true.
CNN congressional corespondent Dana Bash tried to ask Bachmann Tuesday about her the inconsistencies in her speech. It didn’t go too well, as she explained to Anderson Cooper last night. Bash, who has gotten pretty good at chasing Bachmann in heels, tried to speak with the Tea Party Caucus chairwoman in the basement of the Capitol, but the congresswoman took off running. Bash kept pace, valiantly trying to keep up her questions as they careered through the narrow corridors, but Bachmann refused to play ball.
Finally, the congresswoman stopped, squared her shoulders to Bash, and unleashed a tirade. How dare you “talk about dog handlers when we have four Americans killed in Benghazi,” she demands. Bash replies by noting that it was Bachmann, not her, who brought up the dog handlers in her CPAC speech. Bachmann takes off again, leaving Bash holding her microphone in thin air, saying, “but you’re the one who brought it up.”