Bachmann is not Wellstone


As the world of Bachmann continues to swirl in the national media, some of her previous statements seem even more ironic.

Bachmann has compared herself to former Sen. Paul Wellstone, a Democrat who died in a plane crash in 2002. The six-year anniversary of his death is Saturday. The Nation has a piece on her comparisons. If we could think of anyone who has nothing in common with Bachmann, Wellstone is easily near the top of that list. The Nation says her opponent El Tinklenberg is much closer to Wellstone.

After she was elected to the U.S. House in 2006 as a very conservative in 2006, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann -- who had already stirred more than her share of controversy -- compared herself to another Minnesotan who sometimes stepped outside the typical boundaries of the American political process.

"You have to remember I'm from a state where Paul Wellstone was elected during a Republican tide," explained Bachmann, in an interview where she frequently referenced the liberal senator who served Minnesota from his election in 1990 until his death in a plane crash just days before the 2002 election. "There's a great deal of authenticity that came from Paul Wellstone."

It was an easy comparison to make, as Wellstone was not around to defend himself. And Bachmann continues to abuse the privilege by suggesting that she serves and speaks as a Minnesota "outsider" in the Wellstone tradition.

The embattled congresswoman, whose reelection campaign stumbled after she made the Joe McCarthy-on-steroids suggestion on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" that it was time to start investigating "anti-American" members of Congress, is defending herself by claiming that she's a populist "independent reformer" who is under attack by "the elites."

That may sound like Wellstone.

But Michele Bachmann's visceral partisanship, rigidity and McCarthyism mark her as a polar opposite of the former senator. While Wellstone delighted in forging bipartisan alliances with his conservative colleagues -- whose ideological stances he treated not just with respect but the genuine interest of a political scientist -- Bachmann rants about the need to ask members of Congress who disagree with her: "Are they pro-America or anti-America?"

The truth is that, when she got her start in state politics, as a state Senate candidate in 2000 and 2002, Bachmann was among the most outspoken critics of Wellstone in Minnesota.

Bachmann opposed everything Wellstone stood for when he was alive, and she has maintained that opposition.

Bachmann was also the only Minnesotan to vote against the Paul Wellstone mental parity act in the House, which Tinklenberg criticized her for:

Bachmann's vote is a moral failure to look out for some of our most vulnerable citizens," Tinklenberg said. "It is this kind of extremism that is preventing real healthcare reform in our country. We need to start prioritizing people's health and wellness over the profits of the insurance companies. That's the approach I will take in Congress.

And they sum it up quite well:

At the risk of stating what should be the obvious: Voting with the insurance industry to block a health care reform and calling those who disagree with you "anti-American" is about as far from Paul Wellstone as any Minnesotan, or American, can get.