Last Friday, one of the guests preceding my segment on MSNBC’s Hardball was a then-little known Congresswoman from Minnesota named Michele Bachmann.
She’s not little known now.
Bachmann said of Barack Obama, “I‘m very concerned that he may have anti-American views.” She then called on the media to “take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?”
I’ve heard a lot of toxic words in my time as Editor of The Nation. The magazine and its editors have been called un-American, unpatriotic, America- haters, and worse. But Bachmann’s name-calling, and brazen channeling of Joe McCarthy made me angry. Really angry. When Matthews turned to me for my response I told him exactly what I was feeling, “Chris, I fear for my country…. This is a politics, at a moment of extreme economic pain in this country, that is incendiary, that is so debased that I‘m kind of almost having a hard time breathing, because I think it’s very scary, because this is a country I love.”
I said what I believed, nothing more. Bachmann’s over-the-top baiting angered many Americans who’ve had it with the fearmongering and division that has characterized our politics for too long. That emotion poured forth in e-mails which I was extremely moved to receive from so many people – across the country – who wanted to tell me that they shared my views and were grateful that I had expressed the fear and outrage they feel about this kind of poisonous politics. Here are some excerpts from those notes:
Paul in California wrote: “…You make me proud to be an American. Keep it up, we are with you.” And from Autumn in Kansas: “Thank you Katrina, for sticking up for all of us out there that might be perceived as ‘anti-American’ by the likes of Rep. Bachmann.” Jan in Arizona: “That took guts. We know how upset you were and want to support you…. So just a note of thanks.” And from Brad in Chicago: “Thank you for sounding the alarm bell, and for speaking for us all.”
Since then, the backlash to Bachmann’s (and McCain-Palin’s) politics of fear and loathing and demonization, division and distraction is reason for hope, and it also looks as though it might lead to this right-wing ideologue’s well-deserved defeat in November.