BACHMANN: Leave Thomas Edison alone!
Standing in the parking lot moments before the Michele Bachmann fundraising brunch on Saturday, my guts seized up as miasmatic gusts shot from the revolving doors of the Nashua Courtyard Marriott. A sepulchral mist of Lovecraftian horror seemed to rise from the hotel. As saner Midwestern friends protested the governor in Madison and yet others slept in, I was to spend the next three hours in the company of the Tea Party.
Once in the hotel, I found a line of two dozen Republicans snaking down the hallway, queued for continental breakfast. An older, alopecic woman sitting near me drew from the buffet again and again, impassively munching her bagels and eggs throughout the opening remarks. Several of Bachmann's wholesome children handed out Bachmann trading cards (sample stat: she's 100 percent pro-life).
To my right was a tall man who had traveled all the way from Maine. Here was a bona-fide Tea Bagger, whom I named Motorcycle Bill. Tall and ropy, wearing black jeans, a black jacket, and black hi-tops, he rocked feverishly in his seat during the introductory remarks, poking enthusiastically at his Blackberry.
Motorcycle Bill leapt to his feet when Bachmann, elegantly coiffed and glinty-eyed, took the stage in a pink suit befitting Presidential Primary Barbie. "Lovers of liberty, unite!" she began.
It had been a hard day for Bachmann. Earlier that morning, she had drawn criticism for her ignorance of Revolutionary War history. "You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord," she told a Manchester crowd.
But here in Nashua, she remained undaunted. "We talked earlier this morning about your great state motto: live free or die," she said. "It caused me to think also about the motto of the state of Virginia — death to tyrants! You East Coast people get these state mottoes."
After Bachmann elicited boos with mentions of Obamacare and Harry Reid's federal subsidies for "cowboy poetry festivals," as well as cheers for voting out Pelosi, a phalanx of chanting college students lined the back of the room. "Michele Bachmann, we insist! End AIDS-treatment waiting lists!" they yelled, holding Xeroxed signs bearing same.
Motorcycle Bill jumped into action, staring down the students and ripping signs from their hands. As the protesters were led out of the ballroom, he chucked these into the bussing tray next to my head.
Bachmann recovered quickly, claiming the protesters proved "the left knows we're coming, and we're serious." Soon after, she moved on to China, and made a "Hu's your daddy" joke to mild laughter. She conjured a tea bag from a hidden compartment in her blazer and began waggling it at the crowd.
She waggled it while stumping for her Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, a bill she reintroduced to the House earlier this month that would repeal a government decision to phase out incandescent bulbs.
"I think Thomas Edison did a pretty patriotic thing for this country by inventing the light bulb," she said, "and I think darn well you New Hampshirites, if you want to want to buy Thomas Edison's wonderful invention you should be able to!"
After complaining about the protesters in Wisconsin and Ohio, she closed the speech by comparing herself to Abraham Lincoln, forgetting that John Wilkes-Booth yelled the Virginia state motto after shooting him in the head.
On her way out, Dee Hogan of Nashua told me she would gladly vote for Bachmann. "I don't appreciate that your next-door neighbor is going to start yelling at me, telling me to shut my lights off when they have that shut-your-lights-off thingee. I don't want people in my face, telling me what to do."