Bachmann catches heat for ‘gangster government’ remarks

We have been following Michele Bachmann long enough to see multiple instances in which she calls the federal government a “gangster government.” We haven’t touched this one because we really weren’t sure what she meant — is the Obama administration supposed to be like gangsters? Because it allegedly raises taxes and tries to regulate things? Wouldn’t a gangster government be Prohibition-era Chicago or Taliban-dominated Afghanistan? Wouldn’t it, you know, shoot at and steal from its citizens?

Tonight, we have figured out that yes, she does actually mean to compare the government to gangsters. How? Because former president Bill Clinton criticized the metaphor in an interview with the New York Times. Then he drew parallels between the anti-government rhetoric used by the Timothy McVeigh-era militia movement and the anti-government rhetoric being used today. Our ISP has decided not to load nytimes.com all of a sudden, but CBS blogged it:

“They are not gangsters,” Mr. Clinton said in an interview with the New York Times. “They were elected. They are not doing anything they were not elected to do.”…

He called McVeigh and his supporters “profoundly alienated, disconnected people who bought into this militant antigovernment line.” Furthermore, Mr. Clinton said the Internet has allowed political messages to reach both the “serious and seriously disturbed.”

Conservative anger over health care reform did coincide with a rash of threats against members of Congress, and a few people have been arrested for threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and GOP House Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). The Tea Party movement has said negative stereotypes of the group are not true.

Mr. Clinton said that lawmakers should try harder to distinguish between acceptable dialogue and rhetoric that crosses the line, the Times reports.

So he didn’t name her by name, but it’s easy to read that as a reference to Bachmann and her ilk.

Interestingly, one of Bachmann’s colleagues from the Minnesota House delegation, Betty McCollum, ran a press release April 16 that explicitly attacked Bachmann for the “gangster government” line, using much the same logic as the former president. According to the Star-Tribune, Bachmann dismissed this as an attack based on her policies (which ones?):

“They have been maligning people who oppose their policies, inferring that people may be racist or inferring that they may be violent,” Bachmann said.

If she is referring to the tea partiers, well, if the shoe fits…

Edit: OMG, now Marsha Blackburn — who some suggest is the Bachmann of the South — is piling on!

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Sunday all but criticized her colleage, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), for using the phrase “gangster government” at a Tea Party rally earlier this month.While Blackburn would not condemn those remarks during a roundtable on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” she did say “it would not have been a choice in words I made.”

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