Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, has never been a favorite of liberal pundits and commentators. Groups like moveon.org and the Daily Kos have been taking shots at her for some time now. However, some are wondering if she has plans for 2012.
She traveled to Iowa last week, and gave her response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union to the Tea Party Express on Tuesday night. It is no surprise she angers up the left into a complete frenzy.
Jillian Rayfield at Talking Points Memo sniffed at Ms. Bachmann’s reference to John Quincy Adams as someone who was ardently against the practice of slavery: (all bolding is mine)
Speaking at an Iowans For Tax Relief event, Bachmann (R-MN) also noted how slavery was a “scourge” on American history, but added that “we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.”
“And,” she continued, “I think it is high time that we recognize the contribution of our forbearers who worked tirelessly — men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.”
It’s true — Adams became a vocal opponent of slavery, especially during his time in the House of Representatives. But Adams was not one of the founders, nor did he live to see the Emancipation Proclamation signed in 1863 (he died in 1848).
For one thing, Ms. Bachmann cites Mr. Adams as a forebearer not a founding father in the example TPM notes above. The two terms are not necessarily the same. Forbearer can simply means descendent or ancestor and does not have to refer to a “Founding Father.” Considering Congresswoman Bachmann is referring to a legislator who served in the House during the 1830’s, the terminology makes sense for her to say it.
Secondly, the third paragraph pretty much glosses over the fact that Mr. Adams, also a former president, went back to the House of Representatives after his term in the White House and successfully defended, before the Supreme Court, slaves accused of murdering the crew of the Amistad. According to U.S. archives:
President John Quincy Adams argued the defendants’ case. Adams defended the right of the accused to fight to regain their freedom. The Supreme Court decided in favor of the Africans, and 35 of them were returned to their homeland.
However, it appears that TPM’s Ms. Rayfield believes that the work of Mr. Adams does not mean that much in abolitionist history. Apparently, successfully defending African slaves accused of murder in 1839 before the U.S. Supreme Court only allows the former president to be known as a “vocal opponent” of slavery at TPM.
At the Washington Post Jonathan Capehart picked up TPM’s piece above and wrote:
Talking Points Memo corrected Bachmann’s history lesson by pointing out that Adams wasn’t one of the founders and that he died 15 years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Perhaps she was thinking of John Adams, the second president of the United States, who is different from John Quincy Adams, the new nation’s sixth president. And let’s just forget about that whole three-fifths compromise thing in Article 1, Section 2, paragraph 3 of the Constitution that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of figuring out how many representatives would be apportioned to each state.
This is fascinating. While taking shots at the Minnesota Congresswoman for her reference to John Quincy Adams, Jonathan Capehart picks up the flub where Ms. Rayfield left off. Mr. Capehart is trying to mislead his readers or the MSNBC viewers (see video above) by omitting the main issue that the 3/5 compromise was, in fact, a step toward weakening the slave states’ power in the House of Representatives.
Either Mr. Capehart actually knows this important piece of information and seems to enjoy playing with nonsense rhetoric, or he would have preferred the south to have more power in the Congress than they ended up having as a result of the 3/5 compromise. I am going to assume the former.
Along with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews calling her a “balloon head” earlier in the week, it is no surprise Rep. Bachmann told me on Monday, the night before the State of the Union, when I asked her about 2012 plans, she said:
“My focus now is on the bigger issues and the questions for 2012. What are the questions that will be answered? what are the issues that will be focused on for 2012? I think if the entire focus for the next 24 months is just on who the nominee will be that that will be too narrow going forward. While that is certainly part of what the dialog will be I don’t want to see the issues lost in the mix. That’s what my goal in going to Iowa was—to talk about that bigger picture.”