Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Michele Bachmann Doesn't Believe Her Own Words. Why Should We Believe Them?

      Michele Bachmann is the Barack Obama of the 2012 presidential election cycle. The comparison goes to something more basic than their thin biographies, though their thin biographies are nonetheless worth a look.
     They were both trained to be lawyers. Both had unimpressive records in state senates before going to Washington. Obama served in the Illinois state from 1997 through 2004; Bachmann served in the Minnesota state senate from 2000 through 2006. Neither accomplished anything worth mentioning. Obama served as a U.S. senator from 2005 through 2008; Bachmann has been in the House since 2007. Neither accomplished anything worth mentioning. Both of them drew favorable national attention to themselves based solely on their words—words of hope and change that people wanted to hear and believe.
     Here’s where we get down to brass tacks. We know now, if we didn’t know it before now, that the words that got Barack Obama elected were lies. Unlike Michele Bachmann, Mr. Obama at least offered concrete policies and plans even if he didn’t believe his own words. Michele Bachmann offers nothing but words. Does Michele Bachmann believe her own words? If Michele Bachmann’s words are all she’s offering the American people as a reason for electing her President of the United States, then it’s worth checking to see if she believes them herself.
     One advantage we have as a lie detector is that Bachmann has been in Washington for less than four years. She hasn’t had as much time to perfect the art of faking sincerity.
     At least as early as 1978, and up to the present, behavioral psychologists have researched and written peer reviewed articles validating body language and face language. (For samples of articles or abstracts in social science citation index (SSCI) journals, see here, here, and here.) Experienced congressmen know very well that opponents (such as I) sometimes look for signs of lying, and experienced congressmen usually know how to disguise their lying more effectively than Michelle Bachmann does.
     Let me stress here that this is not a parlor game in which “X” always signals “Y” or something like that. Psychology and the human mind are more complex than that.  (In fact, not all liars signal their deceit in the same ways.)
     To give one example of unconscious signaling, when a person makes a statement and shakes his head “no” while saying it, there may be one of several reasons for the unconscious gesture. He may be lying. He may be ambivalent about what he’s saying.  He may be expressing his objection to something.
     When Michele Bachmann uses words such as no or not, or other words of protest, she understandably shakes her head “no.” When she says something positive, she often shakes her head “yes.” These gestures indicate that she believes what she’s saying. On the other hand, when she says something self serving, with a positive ring to it, and shakes her head “no,” that’s a good sign that she’s lying. Sometimes we can’t be sure.
     If you're skeptical of the concept, that's good.  You should be skeptical.  Here's an experiment you can try.  Say out loud, "I love my wife," or something else you strongly believe; and shake your head "no" as you say it.  It doesn't feel natural, does it?  That's because nobody shakes his head "no" when he's expressing a positive belief.
     I think that that’s enough theory. Let’s get down to facts. Watch Michele Bachmann in the following videos and draw your own conclusions. We’ll begin with a recent interview (here):

     Throughout the interview, she nods and shakes her head, but pay careful attention to her head shakes beginning with the 20-second mark and proceeding to the 7 minute, 53-second mark:
20-second mark: “I wish him [Pawlenty] well; I have great respect for the governor….”
1:00: [Says that self-identified people of all political stripes come up to her and say they support her and will vote for here.]
1:20: [on job creation] “I’ve been there, and I’ve done that.”
1:33: “They want someone who’s going to go to Washington [starts head shaking] and represents their values.” [She believes the part about the people wanting to send someone to Washington, but she starts shaking her head at the suggestion that she—Michele Bachmann—will represent their values.]
1:51: “They really want someone they can trust [begins head shaking here] that they believe in.”
3:25: “I will fight for what people care about.”
4:45: “We actually changed our entire educational system in Minnesota.” [In this statement, she’s taking full credit for what the whole legislature did.]
5:20: “No nation has ever been in debt to the levels that we are.” [Fact: The U.S was more deeply in debt as a portion of the GDP just after World War II.]
7:53: “I ascribe dignity and honor to all people no matter who they are….”
     (If you clicked on the link above, did you notice the key question she was avoiding in that interview?  How would she reduce the deficit?  Her only specific suggestion was to continue making Social Security payments to those now receiving them but to deny payments to retiring baby boomers and later retirees.  She didn't mention an obvious means of saving of trillions of dollars: End America's illegal wars of aggression and profiteering that were started under false pretenses.)

Bachmann for Congress: Israel
(Beginning at .57 mark: “I know that these are the views of people in my district.”

Bachmann for Congress: Israel (update)
8-second mark: “The overwhelming majority of Americans understand that our alliance with Israel is critical for both of our nations at all times.”
18-second mark: “…in the face of growing uncertainty…” [stopped shaking her head when she mentions “instability throughout the Arab world.”]
30-second mark: “rising dangers”
48-second mark: “The President is the most powerful man in the world….[head stops shaking here] When it comes to Israel and Israel’s importance to America, his [Obama’s] positions are shared [begins head shaking again] by a tiny minority.”
Referring to Israelis and Americans: “We share the same values and [head begins shaking] the same aspirations.”
Congressman Michele Bachmann's update on the potential shutdown
14-second mark: “I was a very strong voice in Washington, DC, about a month ago."

     If Michele Bachmann is going to follow in Barack Obama’s footsteps with no record of accomplishment, little experience, and only words of hope and change, and she doesn’t believe her own words, why should we believe them? If we want to support a candidate who doesn’t carry water for the Establishment elite, and really believes what he says, whom should we support? A virtual novice whom the Establishment elite give favorable attention at every turn, such as Michele Bachmann; or someone with a proven track record whom the Establishment elite studiously ignore? Think about it.
     After you've thought about it, maybe you and your friends might like to make a game of it.  How many of her lies can you and your friends detect in a single video clip?

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