Michele Bachmann: libertarian?!

A year ago, the circumstances might have been the premise of a Saturday Night Live skit. But the speakers and attendees gathered in Northrop Auditorium Friday night were quite serious. (Also, loud).

Over 3,000 republicans came together to witness our infamous representative share the stage with Ron Paul.

Bachmann spoke first. Her screed centered on what she framed as the Federal Reserve's stranglehold on the American economy and our parasitic monetary policy.

Bachmann's insistence that longtime Fed-basher Paul come to Minnesota--she was evidently very persistent, Paul initially skeptical--reveals how she plans on making her platform/ideology something other than a punchline. The God-fearing congresswoman best known for her comically slavish deference to GOP orthodoxy is reinventing herself into a Federal Reserve-lambasting, isolationist, libertarian populist. The Young Americans for Liberty-sponsored gala offered a snapshot into a party at a crossroads-- the two mascots of polar opposite GOP fringes coming together to rally two comically disparate bases. When Paul began decrying the military-industrial complex, the folly of the Drug War, and the medical industry's suppression of natural/holistic remedies, the attendees holding Bachmann signs looked like they didn't know whether to cheer or mount a citizens' arrest.

Most applauded politely, as did the seated congressman herself. Which doesn't sound that noteworthy until you examine the substance of what was being said. Here's a look at some of the more counterintuitive money quotes, courtesy of "Smart Politics," the U of M's politics blog:

Bachmann's support of Paul in his critique of the federal government over the individual was expected along these dimensions. What was not necessarily expected, however, was the extent to which Representative Bachmann publicly supported Paul in some of his isolationist foreign policy views: ·

"Don't go after child health care or the elderly, I say bring all the troops home from Japan, Korea, and Europe."

· "Whether it's the financial panic, whether it's 9/11, or whether it's getting you psychologically conditioned to start another war, they're always wanting to build up fear. We have to be on guard and we have to be sure that what our government tells us is the truth and we should never go to war if they're telling us a lie about what's happening."

Paul made a name for himself in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries and debates for being critical of the GOP for how it has changed into a party of runaway spending. Bachmann also supported Paul when he made the following statement: ·

"Unfortunately, even when we finally as Republicans got control of the House, the Senate, and the presidency, sadly, we didn't do a very good job."

But perhaps the most shocking alliance between Paul and Bachmann was Paul's attack of U.S. (neo-conservative) foreign policy and the protection of its 'interests' around the globe. For example, Bachmann applauded the following critique by Paul regarding America's decision to put anti-ballistic missiles (long, medium, or short) at Russia's doorstep in Eastern Europe, for what he calls the "bogus" Iranian threat.

· "The idea that we have to use force and intimidation to get along with people is ridiculous. It makes it more difficult. I like the idea of trade. I like the idea of travel. I like the idea of diplomacy. I don't like the idea of intimidation and force and threatening people: 'Do it our way, or we'll bomb you!' 'If you do it our way, we'll give you money. If you don't do it our way, we'll bomb you.'"

Even Paul's more extreme big-picture libertarian viewpoints did not seem to make Representative Bachmann blush. Paul talked about an impending "major crisis" that he believes is going to hit America, and that like-minded people will be needed to "restart" America in a much better way; Paul added that there will be a "de facto secession" after the crisis hits. All of these statements generated applause from Bachmann:

· "I believe the crisis will come, because we're going to have a dollar crisis. When the dollar fails, that means the government checks bounce. And when the checks bounce there will be very little reason for people to be dedicated and worrying too much about the federal government. It will almost be like de facto secession because there will be no way they can control what we're doing!"

· "Not only do we come together and have a good time and are energized, but we also are coming together because we can see that if we can continue this we can change the whole nature of this country.