I WISH THEY'D TALK EVEN MORE
(and get even more coverage)
Steve Benen has concerns about the fact that there'll be two Republican responses to the State of the Union address, an official one from Paul Ryan and another from Michele Bachmann on the Tea Party Express Web site, especially now that the latter is also going to be broadcast on CNN:
... I'm a little surprised CNN would agree to this, just as a matter of fairness -- viewers will hear one speech from a Democrat, followed by a speech by a far-right Republican, and then followed by another speech by a far-right Republican? If a liberal Dem announced this morning that he/she is delivering some remarks reflecting on the SOTU tonight, would that also be aired on CNN's national airwaves in its entirety?
For that matter, I can only hope that Paul Ryan isn't positioned as the "middle" -- literally and figuratively -- between the president and Bachman. The Ayn Rand acolyte is, after all, a hard-core radical, intent on destroying Medicare and Social Security. Bachmann's wild-eyed craziness shouldn't make Ryan appear reasonable by comparison, but it might.
I'm more worried that they'll both appear reasonable to most Americans, or at least seem easily dismissable.
Bachmann, of course, has the greater potential to say something crazy and memorable; it's nice to see that Eric Cantor is nervous and defensive when asked about her response. (That's the reason I wish everybody were retransmitting her speech, not just CNN.)
But I bet she won't talk as long as the president does. And I bet she'll just limit herself to generalized expressions of concern about "socialism" and praise of "freedom" and "liberty" and the Founders. I bet she'll invoke God. I bet she'll say that abortion is bad. I bet she'll say the health care law is the worst law ever.
In other words, I bet she'll give a speech a thousand other Republicans could give, and have given.
And so the swing voters who hear her but don't know anything about her will just shrug. They won't think she's crazy or extreme at all.
I want her to go into detail. I want a lengthy laundry list of proposals from her -- a list as long as Obama's will be. I want America to hear Michele Bachman's plan for saving America in detail, whatever it is.
And the same for Ryan -- as I said this morning, I assume he's just going to speak in generalities about how dreadful spending is. He's not going to go into details about his Robin-Hood-in-reverse, social-safety-net-destroying "road map." I want him to have an hour to fill, and to fill it with his proposals. But that's not the plan. The plan is for him to say "Spending is bad! Obama is wrong!" and then exit stage right.
I say let 'em talk. Too bad that won't happen.
For what it's worth, I actually believe Bachmann when she says she's not trying to compete with Ryan. I see Bachmann and her tea party pals as something like an extreme, hyperpurist, overtly pro-fascist, pro-mortification-of-the-flesh secret society within the Catholic Church -- it's not as if they're against the mainstream leadership (at least so long as the leaders let them do what they want). They just feel they have to set standards of extreme purity, that's all. It sure would be nice if the mainstream leaders followed their example -- but, well, the flesh is weak, and not everyone can endure such exacting demands. The important thing is that the mainstream leadership absolutely shouldn't try to stand in their way. They won't go quietly.