A plea to the voters of Minnesota's 6th Congressional District: Put Michele Bachmann out to pasture. Grandma Anne and F. Scott Fitzgerald will thank you . . .
To the Good Folks of Woodbury, Blaine, Stillwater and St. Cloud:
Although I am writing this note from South Florida, am a native Californian and have probably spent less than 150 hours in the North Star State, your neighborhood -- the 6th Congressional District -- nonetheless plays a significant role in my family's history. The family matriarch, Anne Hyman Kagan, was born in your neck of the woods nearly 120 years ago. 1896 was a very good year for the 6th District, for in addition to grandma, F. Scott Fitzgerald was born a few weeks later in the very same neighborhood.
Grandma Anne, who bore an eerie resemblance to Helena Rubinstein was one of nature's naturals: funny, smart, successful, emancipated, artistic, imaginative, energetic and for her time, slightly bawdy. And, usual for her generation, she was a professional working woman for more than a half-century. One of my fondest memories of grandma took place at the Elm's Hotel in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, where she and Grandpa Doc summered every year -- and she would act as the unofficial director of whacky entertainment. One night she staged a "Come as Your Favorite Fruit" party for all the hotel's guests; she came as a can of fruit cocktail. Quintessential Anne . . .
Grandma lived into her mid-to-late nineties and even today continues to exercise tremendous influence over her daughter (my mother Alice) her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and all those privileged to have known her. She was one of those people who are absolutely unforgettable . . . a character who was imbued with character. And although you folks never knew her -- she would spend most of her life in Chicago, Kansas City and Los Angeles -- you should be proud that she -- along with Scott Fitzgerald -- is your historic neighbor.
Fast forward a bunch of decades to the year 2012. Today, I guess your most famous neighbor would be someone who doesn't actually live in the 6th District: Representative Michele Bachmann. It goes without saying that most everyone in the United States -- if not the Western world -- is aware of Ms. Bachmann . . . and not necessarily for reasons that should make you proud. From the first moment she burst on to the national political scene she, unlike Grandma Anne or Scott Fitzgerald, has been an utter embarrassment. Bachmann, who unbelievably has only been in the House of Representatives for three terms (Yes, it does seem like an eternity) is best known for:
- Accusing Barack Obama of having "anti-American views";
- Alleging that "The Executive Director of Planned Parenthood in Illinois said they want to become the Lens Crafter of big abortion";
- Claiming that "There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists -- many of them holding Nobel Prizes -- who believe in Intelligent Design";
- Chairing the House Tea Party Caucus;
- Raising vast sums of money;
- Sponsoring the "Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act" -- her sole legislative effort;
- Questioning the patriotic bona fides of her Democratic colleagues;
- Declaring the U.S. Census to be unconstitutional;
- Flatly stating that greenhouse gasses are "good for the environment"; and
- Averring that homosexuality can be "cured" with psychological counseling.
And, if all the above isn't embarrassing enough, Ms. Bachmann the person you have seen fit to represent your interests in Congress, now accuses Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Deputy Chief Aide, Huma Abedin -- among others -- of being complicit in a grand scheme to institute sharia law in America! She, along with four of her Tea Party colleagues (GOP Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Thomas Rooney of Florida, and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia) has fired off letters to various Federal agencies demanding an inquiry. And just yesterday -- despite ever increasing condemnations from her Republican colleagues -- Bachmann asserted on radio chatterbox Glenn Beck's program that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN -- the first Muslim ever elected to Congress) "has a long record of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood." Bachmann, of course, has yet to offer a shred of proof for any of these slanderous accusations, because she has no proof. Once again, she has entered that grey conspiratorial empyrean so reminiscent of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Tell me: is this really the person you want representing you and your interests in Congress?
Uniquely, Bachmann's latest foray into Never Never Land has actually stiffened a few heretofore thixotropic conservative spines. In the past several days, Republicans icons Ed Rollins (Bachmann's former campaign manager), Speaker John Boehner, and Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio -- among others -- have pilloried Bachmann, characterizing her charges as "dangerous," "sinister," "extreme," and " downright vicious." To give Bachmann her due, she has performed one positive service: getting politicians from one end of the political spectrum to the other to finally agree on something . . . that the woman representing you in Congress sounds like an escapee from the Asylum of Charenton (although perhaps without the direction of the Marquis de Sade).
Until recently, not a soul on the Republican side of the aisle had either the courage or desire to put Michele Bachmann in her place. For despite her long and inglorious record of sounding like the village idiot, she was held in high esteem by her party's far right wing. And, even more to the point, the GOP has always felt they needed her for the simple reason that she is one of their most prodigious fundraisers. Consider that going in to her 2012 reelection against Democrat Jim Graves she has amassed a campaign war chest in excess of $15 million -- more than any member of the House save Speaker John Boehner, and easily enough to run a highly competitive senate race in most states. Today things are different; where once Michele Bachmann seemed to be a leader with a future -- a female reincarnation of Paul Revere -- now she is looking more and more like the Lady Macbeth.
Friends in the 6th District, you have a great alternative in Democrat Jim Graves. He is a fellow who is truly the American Dream of Success. Through his "Graves Hospitality," he has created tens of thousands of jobs throughout your district. And what is more, looking at how you've voted over the past half dozen years, you've never really been that much in love with Michelle Bachmann in the first place. You may or may not recall that if it had not been for third party candidates in both 2006 and 2008, Bachmann would have lost; that in 2010, despite outspending her Democratic opponent nearly 3-to-1, she won by slightly less than 20,000 votes out of nearly 300,000 cast. In other words, you've never really been that sold on her. And this year, 2012, there is no third party candidate.
And so, dear friends of Minnesota's 6th District, I urge you to come out en masse this November, and defeat Michele Bachmann. Put us out of her narrow-minded, fact-challenged, self-righteous, fear-laced misery. Goodness knows, you deserve far, far better. The state will thank you; the nation will thank you, and goodness knows Grandma Anne will be beside herself with glee.
-2012 Kurt F. Stone
Kurt Stone is a rabbi, writer, lecturer, political activist, professor, actor, and medical ethicist. A true "Hollywood brat" (born and raised in the film industry), Kurt was educated at the University of California, the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University and the Hebrew Union College, Stone holds a B.A. in American Political History, a Master of Hebrew Letters, and a Doctor of Divinity. A resident of South Florida for nearly 30 years, he is currently spiritual leader of the North Broward Havurah in Coral Springs.
Kurt has published 2 major works in the field of American political history: the 2001 best-selling "The Congressional Minyan: The Jews of Capitol Hill," (KTAV) and most recently, "The Jews of Capitol Hill: A Compendium of Jewish Members of Congress" (Scarecrow Press.) This latter work investigates the lives, careers, and accomplishments of the 200 Jewish men and women who have served in Congress throughout American history. Kurt contributed nearly 40 essays to the Encyclopedia of Jewish American Popular Culture (2009, Greenwood Press), and has written extensively for the new Encyclopaedia Judaica.
From the late 1960s to the late 1970s, Kurt served on the staffs of various office holders including Alaska Senator Mike Gravel and California Governor Jerry Brown. In this latter position, working in conjunction with Bill Press, he published "As Their Land Is: A Theology of Ecology."
Stone teaches courses in American Political History, Biography and Cinema at both Florida Atlantic and Florida International University. He received Florida Atlantic University's "Lecturer of Excellence" Award in April 2005.
A widely sought-after lecturer, Stone gives more than 175 lectures a year. Anyone wishing to book Kurt should contact his agent, Art Galietti at One Take Productions, 954-493-7889