Katrina Vanden Heuvel: Michele Bachmann Has Taken Our Political Dialog Into The Gutter

Ed Schultz talks to Katrina Vanden Heuvel about Michele Bachmann's irresponsible fear mongering with no regard for either her constituents or where th
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Ed Schultz talks to Katrina Vanden Heuvel about Michele Bachmann's irresponsible fear mongering with no regard for either her constituents or where the fear mongering she has used is taking the political dialog in the United States. The woman really is just reckless, dangerous and apparently oblivious to how dangerous what's come out of her mouth has been. Sadly most of our media nor the Republican Party leadership has been willing to call her out for it.

It's hard to pick which one is worse between her and Palin but what makes Bachmann worse in my opinion is that unlike Sarah the quitter, this woman still holds an office in the United States Congress. Why she hasn't been censured by her fellow members of the House yet is beyond me.

It was nice to see someone on television straight up call her out for what she's been doing. Too many of them want to dance around it or make jokes about it when sadly there are a lot of people out there that take what she says seriously.

Transcript below the fold via MSNBC.

SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has joined the righties who are denying that anti-health reform protesters shouted racial slurs at black lawmakers last Sunday. Speaking from a boxing ring in Duluth, Minnesota, over the weekend, Bachmann delivered this low blow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN: Democrats said that they were called the “N” word, which, of course, would be wrong and inappropriate.

But no one has any record of it. No witness saw it. It‘s not on camera. It‘s not on audio. They said they were spat upon. No one saw it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Sorry, Michele. The “Huffington Post” has the video of Congressman Emanuel Cleaver being spit on. Take a look. You‘ll see Cleaver recoil as he is walking up the steps, as you would if somebody spat in your face. Cleaver then gets into it a little bit with the guy, then he keeps walking. And you clearly see him wipe off his face.

Then that afternoon, Cleaver‘s office released this statement: “the congressman was walking into the Capitol to vote when one protester spat on him. This is not the first time the congressman has been called the “N” word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured. That being said, he is disappointed that in the 21st century of our national discourse has devolved to the point of name calling and spitting.”

Now, I understand that you don‘t see clearly that the spitting is taking place in the video. So I guess really it‘s, you know, who you want to believe, Congressman Cleaver or Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Now, I know who I‘d pick.

For more, let me bring in Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation.” This is, Katrina, just another classic example, get it into the audio culture of the country, just say it over and over again, and there will be enough on your side to believe, hey, it never happened. What a sad day that an elected official has to resort to this type of manufacturing of a story. Where does that take the discourse in the country, if your opinion?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: It takes it into the gutter. It‘s toxic talk. Michele Bachmann has been practicing a politics of epithets, of slurs, of incitement. We have seen after this health care victory a flow, a tsunami of myths, fabrications, distortions and lies. And Bachmann has been there all along.

What I think is very sad, Ed, is that she is sewing confusion and fear among people without jobs, among people in her district, by the way, where she‘s out there running to be queen of the Tea Party. Meanwhile, she nearly lost her seat by three percent in the last election. She has a 17 percent rate of absenteeism from the House. And she is in Minnesota‘s highest foreclosure district but votes with the banks, votes with the insurance companies, against limits on fore closures, against health care for children.

So be queen of the Tea Party, but don‘t traffic in a politics of incitement and fury at a time of economic pain in this country, when your own constituents are hurting.

SCHULTZ: We did a segment earlier in the program tonight about right-wing talkers. Is it entertainment or electioneering? Your thoughts on that?

HEUVEL: I think the great imbalance in the country is a disservice to the marketplace of ideas this country deserves, Ed. I think that the Federal Communications Commission, Michael Copps, a great commissioner there, has thought long and hard about how you address that imbalance.

Until we have a level playing field, and one which is giving real information—Just a moment, again, on Michele Bachmann and her allies. From death panels to the other day going on about how the IRS is going to be breathing down the back of every American, we deserve the facts. We deserve a good, healthy debate. That strategist from the Republican party earlier deplored what has happened to this Republican party. Is a reasonable—is a responsible Republican party so extinct that it can‘t call out people like Michele Bachmann?

Silence is complicity. Silence is consent when you have people like Palin and wannabe Michele Bachmann talking about politics as armed defensive, in violent rhetoric and language.

SCHULTZ: Your thoughts on Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council tonight releasing a statement asking his members not to give to the RNC.

Is Michael Steele going to survive this? If he stays on, how effective can he be? Fund-raising, you‘re in the image business.

HEUVEL: I think the larger question is, does the Republican part survive? Where does it head when its leadership seems unhinged? When we‘ve just passed a health care bill, which is a major reform, but it is about private insurance. It‘s not a government takeover. It‘s not totalitarianism coming to our shores. I think someone—I‘m sure there‘s reporting being done on trying to get Michael Steele out of that perch, because he isn‘t serving the needs of others in that party.

The larger problem, Ed, is we need a healthy debate in this country on the issues and not a politics of incitement, a politics of slur that is, I think, going to take our country down, and not lift it up and make it a more healthy, secure country.

SCHULTZ: Katrina, great to have you with us tonight. Always a pleasure.

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