The BBC tried to nail Michele Bachmann down on the bogus Limbaugh/Hannity/Beck meme that Barack Obama spent more per day in his official visit to India -- $200 million -- than America spends a day on the war in Afghanistan.
Instead of getting a straight answer, the reporter got a ride on the crazy train.[jump]
Not only did Bachmann refuse to back away from her accusation after the story was demonstrated to be pure hogwash. She also said that she didn't care whether the story was true or not. It just sounded good because it fit her own alternate reality:
BBC: You claimed that President Obama spent $200 million a day on a trip to India. It's been roundly ridiculed as a quote.
BACHMANN: Actually, I didn't claim that. I was quoting a newspaper out of India. And I only used that quote-
BBC: Well why would you do that?
BACHMANN: Well number one it came out of the host country in India, a well-respected financial newspaper.
BBC: And you believe that? $200 million dollars a day?
BACHMANN: Well, all I did was I quoted the newspaper. I quoted the newspaper and major national figures in the United States, many in the media had already been using that figure. [...] The reason it was so important was that the president has a two-year history of out of country spending. [...]
BBC: You still believe that it was $200 million dollars a day?
BACHMANN: I didn't say if I believe it or not. What I said was a I was quoting a newspaper.
That's right. It doesn't matter if the story is true or not, as long as it fits her narrative. To watch the full interview, click here. Or watch the highlight reel:
This episode ties in perfectly with a Saturday profile of the District 6 congresswoman in The New York Times. Bachmann refused to be interviewed for the piece. But Reporter Ashley Parker spoke to numerous House Republican leadership staffers who were pretty open about why Bachmann isn't considered to be a serious legislative leader, even as she exerts influence from the sidelines:
They were concerned about Ms. Bachmann's high rate of staff turnover and were not sure she would be willing to deliver the party's message rather than her own. They were also concerned about her high-profile faux pas, like the claim about the expense of Mr. Obama's Asia trip or the time on MSNBC's "Hardball" when she suggested that Mr. Obama might have "anti-American views." Both of those statements put fellow Republicans in the uncomfortable position of having to either defend her or distance themselves from one of their own.
Parker also spoke with the Humphrey Institute's Larry Jacobs, who more or less gave America fair warning that, now that Bachmann is a member of the ruling party in the House, the whole country is about to get a ride on the crazy train.
"She says things that are kind of off the wall, but these are often calculated statements on her part, to register with conservative, grass-roots people, and that's very hard for folks who are not grass-roots conservatives to understand," he said. "Some of the things she says are zany and embarrassing to other Republicans, but that's part of what has given her this authenticity."
All aboard. Next stop, indoctrination sessions for teabaggers on the Constitution, organized by Bachmann and to be taught by David Barton, a man who evidently isn't familiar with the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment.