Matt Taibbi on the extra-special kind of crazy that is Michelle Bachman

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone: "She's trying to look like June Cleaver, but she actually looks like the T2 skeleton posing for a passport photo. You will want to laugh, but don't, because the secret of Bachmann's success is that every time you laugh at her, she gets stronger."


  1. The popularity she and Palin have can be summed up as “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Conservatives hate liberals. So the more scorn heaped on them by liberals, the more they are embraced by conservatives. You could probably get their supporters to agree to the statement “Yeah, she might be bat-shit crazy, but anyone who pisses of liberals as much as she does must be doing something right.”

    So Matt’s right: just ignore them and they might go away.

    1. BS…they exist to find who the craziest and dumbest right-wingers are. Everybody who sticks with Palin after each mistake and every time she quits her tours, everyone who doesn’t mind that Bachmann was looking off-camera while giving a speech and believed whatever her excuse was…all that stuff: the GOP is paying close attention to who doesn’t care about all that and sticks with these ‘tards as true believers. They’ll be marketed to in just a few months, and quite effectively.

  2. Scared of her politics so we have to start attacking her looks and demeanor by comparing her to a fictional murderous robot of the future?

    Tag shouldn’t be ‘news’…should be ‘fear’

  3. Yeah, because when criticizing a woman’s policies, the most important point is to make sure you take a cheap shot at her attractiveness. Boingboing never fails.

    1. Gravytop, you need to wear the thinking hat and not the emotional-reaction hat. The article is not “cracking wise” about the “quality” of her looks, but on the notions her looks are putting forward. For example, if I were to say that someone “looked nervous” you shouldn’t take it to mean that I am critizing that persons appearance. Rather that I am making statement around my impression of that person’s inner state as conveyed by the visible signals I can see; poise, muscular state (relaxed, tense), conditions of their clothes (groomed, well-dressed, disheveled, etc) and other visual factors.
      The clue given to you is the part about June Cleaver. Taibbi appears to be under the impression that Mrs. Backman is trying to push the impression that she is a conservative, all-American, but Taibbi is perceiving something stranger and potentially dangerous instead.

  4. Will it be Bachmann/Palin or Palin/Bachmann in 2012? Either way, it is time to rethink democracy in America.

  5. Wow, Taibbi really stirred up every right-wing troll in existence.

    If you actually read the article you would realize.. aw never mind. Butthurt trolls are butthurt. The same people who were jumping to the defense of Sarah Palin are jumping to Bachmann’s defense, with exactly as much thought. We make cracks about male politicans and their looks all the time – and hell, I’m old enough to remember the skeevy jokes made about Chelsea Clinton in the 90s.

    So, is she a serious politician, capable of defending our country from all enemies, foreign and domestic, or is she a woman who needs protectin’ from them awful libruls? Can’t have it both ways.

    1. My issue is more with Boing Boing running this than a nothing rag like Rolling Stone…you know…Boing Boing who is supposed to be all granola running articles that lash out at someone’s looks….let see them run the same type of piece with the same type of spin of the politics of the victim were reversed. Won’t happen.

      1. Lighten up. If you read the article, you’ll see that the writer actually compliments Bachmann’s physical attractiveness, saying “she hasn’t appeared to physically age at all in 10 years” and referring to “her TV-ready looks.” The Terminator comment is metaphorical, implying that she scares the writer to the point where he sees the Terminator when he looks at her, not that he actually thinks she physically resembles a titanium robot skeleton.

        And he said it in a way that presumably amused Xeni (who is pretty far from a misogynist). It certainly cracked me up and got me to read the piece.

        1. ‘lighten up’ and excusing Taibbi based on his praise of Bachmann’s looks = not understanding how misogyny works. might as well just tell us uppity women to go make a ‘sammich.’

          1. Commenting on how a politician’s general attractiveness is an asset to her political ambitions is not misogyny. Legitimate commentators talk all the time about whether Mitt Romney’s or John Huntsman’s good looks will play a role in the success of their candidacies (the NYT Magazine profile on Huntsman this weekend refers to his “conventional good looks”), just as they did for John Edwards–or John F. Kennedy for that matter. The kind of objectification Scott Brown faced might be borderline misogyny if it was directed at a woman (like the porn parodies of Sarah Palin, about which I still haven’t figured out what to think), but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

  6. Yes, the piece was heavily skewed, but I still think there’s serious reason to fear her.

    I seriously think people like this are why my dad quit his job as pastor at our church.

  7. Sometimes I entertain the thought of voting for a Palin/Bachmann ticket just to achieve the “worse before it gets better.” I don’t think conservative voters or libertarians (yes, they’re different groups) actually want the reality that these people would bring.

    1. Vote them in so people actually realize how shitty life would be under one of their regimes.

    2. I suspect that if any of these people get into “power”, the real power will be behind the throne. They just need to make sure the figureheads do not commit to some insane plan while recorders are on, and the rest is golden (for them at least, for the rest of the world i shudder).

  8. You don’t have to read much of the article to understand that Taibbi’s description above is entirely a comment on her personality and psyche and has nothing to do with her actual physical appearance. It is a physical metaphor for an emotional picture.

    Just like when Taibbi famously compared Goldman Sachs to a vampire squid, he didn’t actually believe that a real cephalopod was sitting behind the CEO’s desk in a tank.

  9. I dunno, sounds like a classic narcissist to me. (shudder) Matt’s right, laughing at her would be a mistake, it just feeds her delusions.

    What bothers me is that I think if we just had enough time and sat back to study those who chose to run for high office while they’re campaigning, we would find that most of them have serious personality disorders. It seems to be a prerequisite.

  10. “because the secret of Bachmann’s success is that every time you laugh at her, she gets stronger.”

    Just like Vegeta…and we all know how well adjusted he was.

  11. Your problem isn’t Bachmann or Palin or whoever the crackpot du jour is. Your problem is everyone who votes for someone like that. Focus, people. Focus.

    1. “Your problem is everyone who votes for someone like that.”

      Yes, but we can’t vote against those people. This isn’t some last-man-standing reality show where we can just vote stupid people out of THIER right to vote.

      Anybody who would seriously consider voting for Bachmann is beyond the realm of rational thought. Focusing on them is a lost cause. Instead, focus on how Bachmann is pants-on-head psychotic, and maybe some of the borderline cases will notice and act appropriately.

  12. My favorite part of the article, and why I love Matt:

    In 2009, after she saw a news story about the Chinese calling on the world to abandon the dollar as its reserve currency, Bachmann somehow took this to mean that the Obama administration might force ordinary Americans to abandon their familiar green dollar bills for some international and no doubt atheist currency. To combat this possibility, Bachmann introduced a resolution to “bar the dollar from being replaced by any foreign currency.” Even after the gaffe was made public, Bachmann pressed on, challenging Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to “categorically renounce the United States moving away from the dollar.” Imagine Joe McCarthy dragging Cabinet members into hearings and demanding that they publicly disavow the works of Groucho Marx, and you get a rough idea of the general style of Bachmannian politics.

  13. RS should really do something about the astro-turfers/trolls on their site. It’s really quite atrocious.

  14. I’m no fan of Taibbi; he generally comes off as a bit of a horse’s ass to me. I share his contempt for the mind of Michele Bachmann, but I’m probably just part of the problem rather than the solution, in that I can’t keep myself from laughing at her and those who admire her.

    Call me a complacent fool, but I have no fear that the nation will find her electable.

  15. “every time you laugh at her, she gets stronger.”

    Really? Please name the last (professional) clown or stand-up who got elected to a serious office.

    I do laugh at her, but not as much as I curse the idiocy of anyone who thinks she’s fit to serve as anything more significant than speed bump.

  16. From a few thousand miles away it seems incredible that this woman could be seriously considered for a political future, let alone the presidency. Ditto Senora Palin. But then I think well, Bush, Reagan, nothing’s impossible. Joe McCarthy wasn’t a president when he significantly changed the nature of American ‘freedom.’

    As America slides glacially away from its pre-eminent position in the world and the East rises from its slumber, the worst that could happen for the world is some kind of Bachmann Palin Overdrive.

    We all know what happened when the German economy went down the pan last century. Bachmann/Palin may not be Hitler but voters do the craziest things when the economic proverbial hits the fan. And someone will need to be there to ensure that while the people struggle, Wall Street leeches still have plenty to feed on. So long as she’s pretty.

  17. She comes off as a female Greg Stillson.

    Don’t laugh at her or belittle her Stepford looks. Instead, just keep up the ordinary pressure that any serious candidate rates and keep the cameras rolling. She’ll freak out soon enough and often enough that the GOP will realize she’s too unstable to attract anyone not like her. Happily, there are plenty of sharks in the GOP tank, and Rove is currently working for Mitt “The Smiler” Romney so the political hit will be an inside job.

  18. Just like when Taibbi famously compared Goldman Sachs to a vampire squid, [one doesn’t] actually believe that a real cephalopod was sitting behind the CEO’s desk in a tank.

    That will, however, always be the dream.

  19. Last week, my moneyCon Dad surprised me by noting out of the blue that he was impressed by Bachmann. I told him that she was a religious fanatic and that certain behaviours indicated that she had a severe personality disorder, which put him right off her (he may be a conservative, but he has some standards).

    Still, I was confused as to his initial response until I read the bit in the Taibbi article about the 13 June GOP debate, where she “wiped the floor with the other candidates.”

    Anyone who doubts Taibbi’s conclusion that “All of those people out there aren’t voting for Michele Bachmann. They’re voting against us. And to them, it turns out, we suck enough to make anyone a contender” should read this 2004 piece by Taibbi’s former colleague Mark Ames. It captures the mentality of the “spite voter” perfectly:

    If I’m an obese 40-something white male living in Ohio or Nevada, locked into a permanent struggle with foreclosure, child support payments and outsourcing threats, then I’m going to vote for the guy who delivers a big greasy portion of misery to the Sarandon-Robbins dining room table, then brags about it on FoxNews. Even if it means hurting myself in the process.

    1. I’m interested in your reply, gracchus. In the last presidental election, I voted for Cynthia McKinney. Not because I have any special love for the Green party, but to some degree, to spite the two party system. I could see no political difference between McCain and Obama. They were both ‘good old boys’, with the usual cadre of political advisors around them. Obama may have tagged McCain with ‘More-of-the-Same McCain, but really, Obama was hardly going to champion the changes I was looking for. He was no boat-rocker. I want a third party and maybe a fourth, and the federal dollars to fund these parties and make it a real race. We’re told though this would split the vote. Oh no.

      But from out in left field of my mind…I wonder if gaining power for your party is as consensus-bound in Sweden as we are led to think. I like the idea of parties actually having to work together to find a compromise and accumulate a majority vote, in order to get any legislation passed.

      I wonder now how many people are going to the polls, not to vote for, but against. Hmmm…you have given me some food for thought.

    2. Indeed. Research into the human sense of fairness have shown that people may take actions that have the potential to hurt themselves, if said action results in punishing someone else for some perceived act of unfairness.

  20. When I was in sixth grade, I read a series of articles in class on the subject of “Critical Thinking”. This would be the first and last time the subject would be broached during my years in public school.

    The first article consisted of instructions on how to zero in on the actual informational content in a piece of writing while ignoring emotional appeals. The second article focused on some random political subject. You were then invited to pick this second article apart using your newfound skills of “Critical Thinking”.

    This was followed by another, seemingly unrelated article on the subject of how stupid, lazy and self-involved teenagers were. Gotcha!

    “Beware!” The articles concluded, “Emotional appeals can easily bypass your hard-won critical thinking skills.”

    You won’t be surprised to find out that the publishers of these articles received anguished letters in defense of “active, intelligent and engaged teenagers” for months afterwards. These letters were considerably more articulate than the garbled and angry responses that follow Matt Taibbi’s information-poor Bachmann slam. We are hosed, people.

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