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Politico Disguises Hit Piece on Michele Bachmann as Fact-checking

Posted on March 14 2011 8:00 am
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People who get paid to talk for a living are bound to make a lot of innocent mistakes when they talk. This includes our elected representatives. But mistakes made by conservatives almost always generate more media coverage than mistakes by liberals.

And so yet another dreary left-wing hit piece on Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) emerges. This time it is disguised as a fact-checking exercise. (Of course Bachmann’s misstatements are trifling compared to those of Barack “57 States” Obama and Joe “Stand Up For Chuck” Biden.)

The phony fact-checkers are Jonathan Martin and Kendra Marr of the Politico. They say Bachmann was wrong when she said that the Founding Fathers worked to get rid of slavery in the United States. Bachmann is quoted saying, “The very Founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” (Note: Founders is spelled with a lower-case F in the article. This is incorrect. When referring to the American Founding Fathers the upper-case must be used on the initial letters.)

Martin and Marr write

While some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were in favor of abolishing slavery, they were, of course, dead when the institution was ended following the Civil War.

Bachmann singled out John Quincy Adams as someone who “would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.”

But John Quincy Adams, the sixth president who went on to campaign vigorously against slavery while serving in the U.S. House, was not yet 9 years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776; he died in 1848 — nearly two decades before the 13th Amendment was ratified abolishing slavery.

This is a typical Media Matters-style lawyering of a statement. Although some Founders did tirelessly work to kill off slavery, I suspect Bachmann was advancing the view that the seeds of slavery’s destruction as an institution were sewn into the very fabric of the Constitution. This used to be the dominant view before the awful 1960s and political correctness came along.

If Martin and Marr had bothered to actually read the Constitution they might have discovered that it contained clauses designed to cripple slavery. Those provisions were inserted by Framers opposed to slavery and over the vigorous opposition of slave states.

For example, Article I, section 9, gave Congress the power as of 1808 to forbid the importation of slaves. This was intended to slow or even reverse the growth of the institution.

Another provision, Article 1, section 2, stipulated that slaves would count as three fifths of a person for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives. This wasn’t a racist provision. It was aimed at limiting the political clout of slave states. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the slave states wanted slaves to count as five fifths of a person, in other words, as a whole person. The three fifths compromise was the best political deal that could be cut — and if it hadn’t been made, there would not have been a United States of America. (It was subsequently amended by section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery.)

If you’re a college student and have a left-wing professor, don’t even bother arguing with him or her about the three fifths compromise because you’ll be smeared as a racist and possibly brought up on some bogus student conduct charges. Just get your grade and then ridicule the kook in a campus newspaper or in a blog.

The Politico story did get one thing right. Bachmann said incorrectly that the Battles of Lexington and Concord took place in New Hampshire. In fact they took place in neighboring Massachusetts.

Her comeback was a good one. She said, “So I misplaced the battles Concord and Lexington by saying they were in New Hampshire. It was my mistake, Massachusetts is where they happened. New Hampshire is where they are still proud of it!”

Amen to that.

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