Friday, February 16, 2007

COLUMN -- Embarrassed by Bachmann's votes for conservative values? Hardly

Posted by Craig Westover | 10:30 AM |  

Friday, February 17, 2007

Choosing a topic for a weekly column is sometimes like picking a puppy in a pet store. Ideas are constantly barking for attention, but you've got to choose just one. Do you go with the playful idea and have fun with it? Or do you play to the loyal reader base? Or do you go the attack dog route? It can be a tough call.

Two ideas gnawed at me this week. Fortunately, Tuesday's Pioneer Press Viewpoints page provided the opportunity to pick a couple of puppies.

Side-by-side sat a biting column by 100.3 KTLK-FM talk show host Jason Lewis reminding the tax-and-spend apologists in the Legislature that "It's not your money" and a column by Stillwater resident Karl Bremer yapping about Rep. Michele Bachmann's "embarrassing" negative and losing-side votes on the Democrats' first-100-hours initiatives. The columns sprang from the same litter.

I had a late breakfast with Lewis last week. Although I kept my hands to myself, it was somewhat of a Bachmannesque thrill noshing with "Minnesota's Mr. Right." I am an unembarrassed big Jason Lewis fan. That's good news and bad. I used to be a huge Jason Lewis fan. Lately, his on-air persona frequently crosses the line between rant and rationality.

"I may rant a little more," Lewis admitted, "but it's out of frustration." And not just with liberal Democrats. Some of Lewis' most vitriolic rhetoric has targeted a Republican Party that he sees as unilaterally abandoning conservative principles. In a pre-election interview, Lewis flustered the usually unflappable Gov. Tim Pawlenty on issues from education funding to ethanol subsidies. It did not make Lewis popular with the GOP powers that be, nor did it silence him.

"There's no one up at the Capitol standing up for conservative principles," Lewis declares. "Republicans like Pawlenty have simply thrown in the towel. It's much easier to say, 'You can't say no to everything' than it is to push a conservative agenda — including tax cuts."

(More than 11,000 Minnesotans have gone to the KTLK Web site ( to sign the Minnesota Tax Cut Coalition petition, a number that surprised even Lewis. He was hoping for 10,000 signers by a scheduled April 14 tax rally at the Capitol. He reached that number in just two months — with no serious party or media call for tax reform.)

All it really takes for the left to win is for the GOP to place party over principle, Lewis says. Then conservative ideas aren't sold to the public. If you let the left educate the public, it should be no surprise the polls show the public leans left.

That brings us to Bremer.

Bremer has long since jumped the fence between supporting a cause and pursuing a vendetta. A frequent author of posts on anti-Bachmann Internet sites, Bremer is more obsessed with Michele Bachmann than Ken Starr ever was with Monica Lewinsky. His column betrays that irrationality.

Instead of objectively discussing the Democrats' first-100-hours initiatives, or even attempting to discredit conservative objections to the mostly symbolic gestures, Bremer simply charges that Bachmann "embarrassed" Minnesota by voting "nay" on all the Democrats' bills.

Why "embarrassed"? Because Bachmann's views differ from Bremer's?

There is nothing embarrassing about Bachmann's votes. She voted conservative values, nothing more, nothing less. That's what her supporters elected her to do. What would have been embarrassing, and disappointing, would have been Bachmann backing off of conservative values to accommodate popular opinion. Going along to get along is exactly what Lewis laments that most Republicans are doing.

I think Lewis is right. When Republicans can be intimidated off their core values by Bremer-like labels, "political debate" becomes oxymoronic. Republicans lose elections. Minnesotans simply lose.

That brings us full circle back to Lewis. He cites Ronald Reagan's conviction that if the polls are against you, you don't change your position; you stand strong and do a better job explaining why you believe what you believe.

"Frankly, it's my view that it's those in the political class, divorced from principle but not ambition, who are selling this notion that Reaganism is dead. Sorry, I don't buy it," Lewis said. Neither does Bachmann, and that's a source of pride.

As for Bremer's contention that Minnesota conservatives should be embarrassed by what they believe and embarrassed because their congresswoman stood up for her values? Well, that dog don't hunt.

Labels: , ,