Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Republicans Duck Town Halls, Opt for Paying Customers Only

Bachmann 'Elvis' Gaffe Still Free of Charge

Republicans had an answer for President Barack Obama who last week urged Americans to challenge members of Congress during lawmakers' August recess.

With new polls showing Congress posting a whopping 13% approval rating, and a major-league record 84% disapproval rating, with fresh memories of last Spring's pitchfork-and-torch angry crowds screaming about GOP plans to gut Medicare, with brand new memories of pitchfork-and-torch crowds haranguing hapless pols like Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Mike Johann (R-NE), Republicans have taken to exercising the better part of valor and ducking out of town hall meetings altogether.

This didn't mean there weren't ample opportunities to harangue and heckle GOP pols as they blustered and blundered their way from gaffe to gaffe. There was usually a Michele Bachmann (R-MN) sighting or two somewhere, and as it was Tuesday, she was blowing it with Elvis fans in Spartanburg, SC.

"Before we get started," she said to a cheering crowd in her characteristic nipped, tucked, botoxed, tanning-bed, faux-thirty-something once-and-future cheerleader way, "let's all say 'happy birthday' to Elvis Presley today! You can't do better than Elvis Presley!"

Elvis himself, of course, wasn't doing too well 34 years ago August 16, as that was the day he died, not the day he was born 42 years before that, on January 8. Several hours later, presidential hopeful Bachmann acknowledged The King's passing, without mentioning her earlier misstep. Those major life events were all so similar, they were more than anyone could possibly be expected to keep straight.

It was not immediately known whether Bachmann and her spinmeisters were going to go with Elvis-and-Michele-were-Christians-and-thanks-to-the blessings-of-Jesus-death-was-actually-a-new-birth-into-the-reward-for-a-Christian-life-so-Michele-was-right-all-along dodge.

Other Republican pols were dodging their constituents altogether, as they completely gave up on holding open-to-the-public town hall meetings. Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) neatly cropped coiffure ran into more than one buzzsaw last Spring over his scheme to dismantle Medicare, hand all its money to insurance company cronies, and pawn off future seniors with worthless discount coupons the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office figured wouldn't cover a third of the cost of the private premiums, deductibles, and co-pays seniors would be forced to shell out for.

No fool he, Ryan had taken to restricting his personal appearances to private affairs hosted by amenable boosters and attended by pre-screened supporters who'd paid to meet His Sublimeness. Ryan and his cohort probably felt this would increase the likelihood Ryan could enjoy basking in the adoring glow of the grovelling sycophants that he so richly deserved.

Ryan's August faux-town hall was to be hosted by the Whitnail Park Rotary Club, which was collecting $15 a head for tickets to attend.

Ryan spokesperson Kevin Seifert said the $15 fee was the Rotary Club's idea. "It's not something our office can control."

Rotary Club webmaster Pastor Larry Meyers said about 50 people had registered and paid the $15 thus far.

"Paul Ryan has had a hard time going before open crowds," said Graeme Zielinski of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. "I'm sure Ryan doesn't want to go before the public to explain why his extreme ideology caused Standard and Poor's to downgrade U.S. long-term treasury bonds."

That, and while all the pitchforks and torches made for aesthetically appealing television, the needed police escort to get away alive made for something of an image problem.

Other GOP pols hoping to meet a better class of sycophant included Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN). The Duluth chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses was civic-mindedly slated to host a Chip Cravaack meet-and-greet next week for anyone on the Federation's mailing list who wanted to pay the very reasonable $10 per person tab.

"Cravaack's in Duluth meeting with business folk," complained labor leader Chad McKenna, "but the average person on the street doesn't have access to him." Mission accomplished, Team Cravaack.

Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ), eager not to have to undergo the grilling McCain endured, was scheduled to appear at an Arizona Republican Lawyers Association luncheon gathering Aug. 23 for $35, apparently festival seating. While McCain was supposedly accustomed to rough questioning thanks to his prolonged Vietnam War confinement at the Hanoi Hilton, Quayle had never had to bail out over enemy territory. Until now.

Which left earnest citizens eager to roast blundering GOP politicians with just presidential hopefuls who were more or less forced to appear before the public.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, himself eager to capitalize on the better-than-abysmal employment numbers his state racked up thanks to unconscionably allowing oil companies to pump billions of gallons of toxic water into the ground and hydrofrack every square inch of Texas, took just four days since announcing his intention to be leader of the free world to thrust his foot squarely into his mouth by dissing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Perry called Bernanke "treasonous," and said, "we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas."

Perry's comments drew the ire of such left-wing pinko extremists as George W. Bush uber-strategist Karl Rove, who told liberal lamestream media outlet Fox News, "You don't accuse the Chairman of the Federal Reserve of being a traitor to his country and being guilty of treason and suggesting that we treat him 'pretty ugly' in Texas. That's not, again, a presidential statement."

And, it being a Tuesday, Michele Bachmann and Co. was giving everyone a free bonus gaffe. She'd told everyone she'd been late for the Black Hawk Republican Party dinner in Waterloo, IA, because she'd been attending a " big family reunion just north of Waterloo," completely understandable for a candidate who so vehemently championed the family unit, so long as that family unit was a God-fearing traditional Christian family unit with a husband and a wife and lots of freshly-scrubbed kids.

In fact, she had not attended the big family reunion, but Bachmann spokesperson Alice Stewart, a.k.a. the hardest working person in show business since James Brown went to visit Elvis at Graceland in the Sky, spun that Bachmann hadn't really lied because she had indeed visited with some family members on or about the date in question.

Stewart said completely accurately, "There was more than one family reunion that weekend, more than one family reunion that day." Stewart did not immediately specify how many of those reunions involved Bachmann's family.

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