I’m not sure you could ask for a more perfect example than this of just how off the rails and out of touch with reality the Tea Party’s rhetoric on the debt ceiling has become.
Here’s Michele Bachmann, an ardent foe of raising the debt ceiling, at a press conference today, talking about President Obama’s desire to raise it:
“President Obama is holding the full faith and credit of the United States hostage so he can continue his spending spree!”
According to Bachmann, Obama is jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States by trying to avoid default.
What’s amusing about this is that a couple months ago, when he was being responsible about the debt ceiling, John Boehner used identical language to make the opposite point: That failing to raise the debt limit would jeopardize the “full faith and credit” of the United States.
Here’s Boehner, on May 15th:
I understand what the President was saying about jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States. That’s why I’ve said in every public and private utterance that our obligation is to raise the debt ceiling.
Boehner, of course, was exactly right, and Bachmann is exactly wrong — dangerously so, in fact. It seems fair to assume that Bachmann heard this language used in conjunction with the debt ceiling debate, and simply appropriated it to make the opposite argument that responsible leaders in both parties have made about the urgent need to raise the debt ceiling and avoid the catastrophic consequences of default.
Yet Bachmann is anything but a fringe figure. She’s got a big and intensely devoted national following and is a credible contender in the Iowa caucuses — and possibly in the GOP presidential primary. She is considered the leading standard bearer of the Tea Party agenda in the House of Representatives. If you want to understand why GOP leaders like Boehner and Mitch McConnell seem to be giving up on getting the debt ceiling raised through the conventional method of passing it through both Houses of Congress, Bachmann’s wholesale reinvention of reality on the subject is a pretty good place to start.