Not content to let Eric Alterman have all the fun of belittling Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Daily Beast writer John Avlon has joined the Bachmann bashing bandwagon, too. The Beast’s resident “extremism” hand-wringer is taking a more roundabout approach, suggesting that Bachmann is symptomatic of a broader radicalization of Minnesota, for which she and Gov. Tim Pawlenty “are going to have to answer for”:
In recent weeks, the Republican-controlled state legislature has clashed with liberal Democratic Governor Mark Dayton. Among their headline grabbing and eyebrow-raising legislative efforts have included trying to ban all abortions in the state after 20 weeks and forbidding anyone on public assistance from withdrawing more than $20 cash per month.
The man Dayton narrowly defeated in an overwhelmingly Republican election year was conservative-populist-turned-lobbyist Tom Emmer, who backed a “Tenther” bill that would require a two-thirds state legislative vote to ratify any federal legislation and supported a state constitutional ban on gay marriage.
This isn’t the first time Avlon has had trouble grasping the fact that just because he disagrees with a particular position, it doesn’t automatically follow that the position is beyond the pale. It’s unreasonable to ban abortion well after unborn babies can feel pain? It’s extreme to do what thirty other states already do on marriage? As for the restriction on withdrawing money, Mark Meed debunked that canard on March 21, and while the idea of state supermajorities having to ratify all federal laws does strike me as both constitutionally and practically problematic, it hardly signifies a kook epidemic that a gubernatorial candidate would embrace a questionable solution to a real problem—federal overreach over states’ rights.
Avlon continues in a similar vein, listing examples of Minnesota Republicans either saying off-color things or appearing with others who have. The players in question deserve heat for some of it, while other scandals are almost certainly overblown; I’ll leave the final judgment to Minnesota politicos. Regardless, two main points must be made.
First, do the names Jeremiah Wright or Bill Ayers ring a bell? The America-hating pastor and unrepentant terrorist’s ties to President Barack Obama were far more numerous and significant than lone photo ops or radio interviews. What about the vitriol practiced and condoned at every level of the Democratic Party? Indeed, it’s hard to read Avlon complaining about “an intra-party atmosphere that is starkly inconsistent with the state’s justified reputation for ‘Minnesota Nice’” without recalling the twenty-day parade of thuggery Wisconsin recently suffered at the hands of left-wing activists and public-sector union apologists (which Avlon himself recognized).
This isn’t to say that every single Democrat is culpable for the actions of their party members, of course, but it is does beg the question of holding both sides to consistent standards, especially considering the Left’s overwhelming declarations that the Right as a whole had to take responsibility for their “extremism” after psychopath Jared Loughner shot up Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ town hall event in Arizona. Does Obama have anything left to “answer for”? Harry Reid? What about Wisconsin’s remaining Democrat senator, Herb Kohl?
That brings us to the second point. Michele Bachmann is not Tom Emmer or Dan Severson. Tim Pawlenty is not Mike Parry or Tony Sutton. Presidential candidates should, and ultimately do, rise or fall on the basis of their own views, statements, and actions. The records of those around them, while not irrelevant, are secondary, and they certainly aren’t responsible for everything that goes on in their state.