The XX Factor

The Lightbulbs of Tyranny

After Barack Obama’s centrist pandering and Paul Ryan’s aspirations-killing response, the mood at the State of the Union watch party I attended was high for Michele Bachmann’s response to the speech and the response. She exceeded all hopes and dreams, channeling Ross Perot, but with an added dose of nutty to the eye, and displaying a chart that would make Glenn Beck jealous of its dishonest incoherence.  Like you said, Noreen , it was hard to really listen to what Bachmann was saying, because she deliberately used a style that reckoned back to ‘60s-era civics film reels, and she deliberately refused to look at the CNN camera, to give that added flourish of right wing nuttery to the whole presentation.  Those so distracted can read the transcript ; unsurprisingly, it’s a bunch of lies, empty patriotism, and paranoid nonsense aimed straight at a base that’s worried “socialized medicine” will kill their Medicare.

My favorite line was the one about the lightbulbs.  To refresh:

Instead of a leaner, smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that tells us which light bulbs to buy, and which will put 16,500 IRS agents in charge of policing President Obama’s healthcare bill.

Nothing says “federal overreach” like the jackbooted thug they assign you at Home Depot, nudging you in the back with the barrel of his gun toward the fluorescent lights that are known for making tofu taste better and rap music sound appealing.

I try keep up with whatever loss of precious freedom is going to push Tea Partiers over the edge into violent revolt any day now.  Some countries, like China, think they know the pain of tyranny.  But all they have is dissidents being thrown in jail to silence them, but in America, we have to suffer the indignity of phosphate-free dishwasher detergent , not to mention low-flush toilets. Sure, those lefties might whine about someone being tortured for exposing government corruption , but how can they worry about that in a nation where people have to scrub their toilets more frequently?

Still, I had only the dimmest notion of what Bachmann was referring to in this speech.  I figured, having spent more than enough time around ranting conservatives, that she objected to fluorescent lightbulbs, but a little research demonstrates how deep her hatred runs.  Bachmann introduced a bill in 2008 to halt a slow-moving phase-in of energy-saving light bulbs signed by no less than President Bush. She called it the ” Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act. ”  Yep, Bachmann thinks you should be forced to suffer nine months of pregnancy and labor against your will, lest her steady stream of state-funded foster children dry up , but having light bulbs that are twisty instead of round is an assault on one’s basic right to self-determination.

Photograph of Michele Bachman by Steve Pope for Getty Images.