A Gollum-like approach to public policy

A Gollum-like approach to public policy
A Gollum-like approach to public policy

Highlighting the many missteps of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is generally a little too easy, but there’s a larger significance to this latest gem.

“There were numerous Republicans that voted against the sequestration because we knew all of these calamities were in the future. And so it reminds me of the Shakespeare line: ‘Thou protestest too much.’ Didn’t you know this was going to happen? We knew it. That’s why we voted against this bill.”

Now, most of the commentary around the quote, which Bachmann uttered on the House floor, mocked her for butchering Shakespeare. But the more salient point is that the congresswoman was lying.

To hear Bachmann tell it, she and many of her Republican colleagues knew the sequestration cuts would do so much damage, they voted against them out of their deep compassion towards the American people. They “knew” the sequester would cause “calamities,” so they “voted against this bill.”

Except, whether Bachmann understands reality or not, that’s completely at odds with what actually occurred. She and many of her far-right colleagues voted against sequestration, not because they thought it cut too much, but because they thought it didn’t cut nearly enough. Her new argument, while creative, is brazenly dishonest, even for her.

But in the larger context, it’s easy to understand how Bachmann might get confused. At this point, Republican rhetoric on sequestration is starting to sound an awful lot like Gollum talking about a certain ring.

Republicans love the sequester; Republicans hate the sequester. Republicans think the sequester is a great idea; Republicans think the sequester is a terrible idea. Republicans think they came up with the sequester; Republicans think they didn’t come up with the sequester. Republicans believe the sequester is doing no damage to the country; Republicans believe the sequester is doing too much damage to the country. Republicans are for sequestration; Republicans are against sequestration.

We’re reaching new levels of ridiculousness here. Republican lawmakers came up with the idea, then condemned it, then embraced it, then blamed President Obama for it, then celebrated it as a “victory,” then condemned it again when it started delaying flights, then embraced it again.

For our benefit, they need to first understand the policy, then take steps to mitigate its damage. It’s time to put the ring aside and do the right thing for a change.