The Party of Bachmann

Days after losing NY-23, the Republican Party welcomes a far-right protest on the national mall

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In the GOP civil war, moderates seemed to gain ground this week as center-leaning Republicans won two governors' races, while the conservative candidate lost in NY-23. But days later, in the far right came out again big. Thousands heeded Rep. Michele Bachmann's call to fill the National Mall and protest Democratic health care reform. Commentators say Thursday's rally--which included signs comparing the health care bill to the Holocaust--is proof that the Republican Party is embracing its right wing in the battle for control of the party. But will it win them elections?

  • Do They Really Want To Put Dachau on Their Campaign Posters?  At The Washington Post, Dana Milbank says the GOP seems a little lost. "The best of Bachmann's recruits were a few rows into the crowd, holding aloft a pair of 5-by-8-foot banners proclaiming 'National Socialist Healthcare, Dachau, Germany, 1945.' Both banners showed close-up photographs of Holocaust victims, many of them children."
'Who knew a casual comment on TV could generate this?' Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Tex.) exulted as he stood in front of the Dachau banner. Now, objecting to the health-care bill is one thing. But doesn't it send the wrong message for House Republicans to hold an event on the Capitol grounds full of hateful and gruesome words and images?
  • They Can't Win Like This  In his column in The Washington Post Friday, Eugene Robinson says it's bad strategy for the GOP to play to the fringe when they can't deliver enough votes to win. "The far-right conservative base isn't big enough to elect national or even statewide candidates without help from moderate Republicans and independents." And on MSNBC's Countdown Wednesday night, Robinson said the Bachmann rally was the day the Republican Party "gave up any pretense of deniability" and embraced the fringe. "When you have the minority leader out there joining the protest, the rally, whatever it was, with this horrific and frankly disgusting imagery that attended it, there is a certain amount of ownership that they take," he said. "And I think this is something that should be remembered."
  • Not Going to Win Any Independents  The Politico's Jonathan Allen and Meredith Shiner say the Republican Party risks alienating voters with a rally with offensive rhetoric and imagery. There were signs among the roughly 10,000 protesters Thursday likely to turn off all but the most ardent supporters of the tea party movement. One referred to President Barack Obama as a “red.” A banner reading “National Socialist Health Care: Dachau, Germany — 1945” included a photograph of dead bodies piled atop one another. Another sign said that Obama “takes his orders” from the Rothschilds."
  • Head to the Mall  Thursday morning, conservative Townhall blogger Jillian Bandes was urging her readers to attend the Bachmann protest. "Go to the West steps of the Capitol today at noon and yell at your member of Congress for a while. Go ahead. Try it. It feels great."
  • An Unhealthy Sign  In The Daily Beast, Radio host John Batchelor said the spectacle on the Mall was the final sign that the Republican Party is no longer electable:
At noon on a workday in D.C., the 10,000 elderly, unemployed, retired curiosity-seekers, carrying creative signs such as “No!” were not a revolution, nor even the “rebellion” that Boehner claimed he saw. They were gray-haired props for more of the same posturing by what is left of the GOP on the Hill—a collection of clumsy self-promoters, talk show whiners, and impotent pols like Bachmann, as the GOP slips into the grave of a splinter party, undecipherable, unelectable, unmourned.
  • A 'Party of Hate'  On Thursday night, liberal MSNBC host Keith Olbermann said the event marks the day "when Republicans say, 'we own this.' There's racism in here, there's bigotry, there's refusal to acknowledge the outcome of an election that was a pretty clear-cut decision. There's a misunderstanding of a vital health care issue. This was the day the Republican Party said 'yeah, we'll take this, we'll run on this, we'll become a party of hate.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.