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The Interchangeable Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann

June 3, 2011

As Sarah Palin launched her bus tour last week, her "friend" and likely White House hopeful Michele Bachmann protested that the two Tea Party darlings are not "interchangeable." Sadly, their statements over just the past few days suggest otherwise. Telling the same lies about the national debt, each apparently believes God has chosen Israel - and her. And as it turns out, Bachmann and Palin managed to comically bungle the same episode in American history.
In Boston yesterday, Sarah Palin butchered the story of Paul Revere and his midnight ride that augured the start of the Revolutionary War. Revere's mission, Palin insisted, was to warn the British:

"He who warned, uh, the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms uh by ringing those bells and making sure as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed."

If this rings some bells for you, it should. Two months ago, Rep. Bachmann rewrote the history of the Revolutionary War as well.
And the geography, too. While Palin at least was able to correctly place Paul Revere in Massachusetts, Bachmann told an audience of New Hampshire Republicans that the battles ofLexington and Concord and the "shot heard 'round the world" happened in their home state:

"What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty," the potential GOP presidential candidate said. "You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord. And you put a marker in the ground and paid with the blood of your ancestors the very first price that had to be paid to make this the most magnificent nation that has ever arisen in the annals of man in 5,000 years of recorded history."

As it turns out, Bachmann and Palin didn't merely fail the same history test. They each got an F on the same math quiz, too.
Before Barack Obama took the oath of office in January 2009, the projected federal budget deficit was $1.2 trillion. As George W. Bush exited office, total outstanding debt was $10.6 trillion and the debt ceiling set at $11.3 trillion. But with the heated debate over raising the debt limit now at $14.3 trillion, both Palin and Bachmann wrongly claimed that President Obama doubled the national debt.
On January 21, 2011, Bachmann offered the long form version of the Obama debt lie:

"From the time when George Washington took the presidency on his first day to the day George W. Bush left as president of the United States, all 43 presidents, if you take all of the debt combined of all of those 43 presidents, do you know that all of that debt is less than the debt that was accumulated by Barack Obama in one year? That is the level of debt and spending that we have engaged in. So this isn't hyperbole. This is facts."

Of course, Bachmann's claim is not "facts." But that didn't prevent Sarah Palin from regurgitating it this week as part of her magical mystery tour:

"Look at the debt that has been accumulated in the last two years. It's more debt under this president than all those other presidents combined."

It's no wonder the Washington Post act checker gave them "Four Pinocchios."
Their debt dissembling hardly ends there. Each is steadfastly opposed to raising the U.S. debt ceiling, inviting default and a national economic catastrophe. Both Palin and Bachmann insist that disaster can be postponed indefinitely by the equivalent of creative accounting. And both Palin and Bachmann called Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner a liar for simply explaining the consequences of Republican failure to increase the debt limit. Palin, whose simple response to the debt ceiling hike was "hells no," blasted Geithner. As the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday:

It would be "a failure of leadership in the House" if "they were to cave and the debt ceiling were to be increased based on what I believe are Timothy Geithner's false statements to the American people that a catastrophe would befall us all if the debt ceiling isn't raised."

Palin was merely echoing Bachmann's slander of Geithner:

According to Bachmann, Geithner "unfortunately resorted not only to scare tactics, [but] in my opinion it was outright blatant lies when he said that we would see the collapse of various things if we didn't allow the government to continue to borrow money, and spend money, that we don't have.
"What the Treasury secretary has failed to tell the American people is that we have it within our discretion to pay our debts first," Bachmann says.

God help us if the United States defaults on its debt obligations. But first, according to Palin and Bachmann, He will insist we help Israel.
The recent manufactured controversy over President Obama's speeches on peace between Israel and the Palestinians gave Michele and Sarah their openings. Bachmann, who said she considers herself Jewish, has started an online petition to "Tell Obama: You've Betrayed Israel." This week, Bachmann not only put out a statement critical of President Obama's Middle East speech, but delivered 150,000 robocalls in Iowa and South Carolina in support of the Likud-line on Israel. America's failure to do so, Bachmann insisted last year, would result in God cursing the United States:

At a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Los Angeles last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann offered a candid view of her positions on Israel: Support for Israel is handed down by God and if the United States pulls back its support, America will cease to exist... "I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States...[W]e have to show that we are inextricably entwined, that as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play. And my husband and I are both Christians, and we believe very strongly the verse from Genesis [Genesis 12:3], we believe very strongly that nations also receive blessings as they bless Israel. It is a strong and beautiful principle."

Like Bachmann, Palin insists anyone who "studies the Old Testament" must "take a stand in defending our friends in Israel." But it is her belief in the New Testament's eschatology of Armageddon which apparently explains why Israel shouldn't cede an inch of the occupied territories. Pushing her book in November 2009, Sarah Palin not only went rogue on 40 years of American foreign policy, but raised suspicions that she believes the Apocalypse may be nigh.

"I disagree with the Obama administration on that. I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don't think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand."

As Jeffrey Goldberg reported in The Atlantic, while Palin "holds fairly typical Protestant Zionist beliefs, and one of those beliefs is the regathering of the Jews in Israel," the minister of the Assembly of God church she frequented believed that "based on some personal revelation he claims to have gotten from God, that the Jews would move to Alaska during the Tribulation." Either way, to be on the safe side Palin wore a Star of David necklace during both her tour of Israel in March and this week to mark the 44th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem.
But it is precisely over which of the two Tea Party sweethearts enjoys God's favor that Sarah Palin and Bachmann may have a disagreement. Bachmann, who has repeatedly insisted that "God then called me to run for the United States Congress," recently told Iowa Public Television that that when it comes to a run for the White House, "yes, I've had that calling and that tugging on my heart that this is the right thing to do." Then there's Sarah Palin. As her former aide Frank Bailey revealed in his tell-all book, Palin has for years sought the assistance of her "prayer warriors" in what she deemed a "divine calling." In an email to Bailey in June 2006, Palin explained:

"I was at Wasilla Bible Church...and the service was awesome b.c. he talked about just knowing that you know that you know when you're called for something...there's no guarantee of the outcome but you just know, with a confidence that can only comes (sic) from God, that you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, even though there's no crystal ball to tell you how it will all end. Our pastor...talked about Solomon having to build the temple when he was young & inexperienced & there were political tensions and struggles all over the mom looked at me and said: do you think he's talking to you?!"

And that may be the one reason that Michele Bachmann is right that she and Sarah Palin are not "interchangeable." As Dire Straits explained back in 1982, "Two men say they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong."

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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