Poor John Dingell Faces Nasty Campaign and Angry 'Bellowing' - Michele Bachmann a 'Polarizing Republican'

Double standards: The Times lets Democratic congressional baron John Dingell lament the nasty political climate that means "He now faces a wealthy cardiologist with Tea Party leanings, and confrontations with detractors, some of whom take to bellowing....There is the inevitable question of why he bothers." Meanwhile, conservative Republican Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is a "polarizing" figure who makes controversial statements.

Poor John Dingell harassed by "snarling" critics. That was the tone of "Michigan's Dingell Counting on a 30th Victory," Wednesday's sympathetic profile by Jennifer Steinhauer, who journeyed to Ann Arbor, Mich., to sympathize with the veteran Democratic congressional baron who has served the union-heavy district for over 50 years.

Steinhauer, who is no fan of direct democracy, seems to think it a shame that a "wealthy cardiologist with Tea Party leanings" has the poor taste to actually run against Dingell, and that he is actually being confronted by bellowing detractors (otherwise known as his constituency) on the trail.

By contrast, a profile of Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann on the same page called her a "polarizing" figure and recited what opponents termed her "bizarre" past statements.

Representative John D. Dingell, the longest-serving member of the House, remembers his first campaign, in 1955, when his political ears were damp and a host of popular candidates unnerved him.

Mr. Dingell can recall in stinging detail the primary battle of 1964, when he faced off with an opponent who did not support the Civil Rights Act as he did. And then there was 2002, when redistricting forced him into a contest with a sitting congresswoman. He even recalls the election fights waged by his father, who held the same seat from 1933 until 1955. About this year he is unequivocal.

"This is probably the nastiest climate I've ever seen," said Mr. Dingell, 84, taking a short break between campaign stops on Monday. "It's worse than the fights during civil rights, it's worse than the troubles during the Depression."

He now faces a wealthy cardiologist with Tea Party leanings, and confrontations with detractors, some of whom take to bellowing. Like the man who confronted him at a meeting last summer, saying the health care bill would mortally harm his son, or the candidate for the Statehouse who snarled and pointed his finger at him during a candidate forum last week.

On Monday, a fellow even briefly shouted down the news conference here where Mr. Dingell was announcing the sort of thing that long-serving congressmen can bring home - $13.9 million in federal money to fix much-trod bridges - because traffic had been snarled to accommodate "your dog-and-pony show."

There is the inevitable question of why he bothers.

Still, Steinhauer was confident Dingell would prevail again, despite a poll of "questionable methodology" showing his opponent Rob Steele up a few points.

Directly below the positive Dingell profile in Wednesday's print edition) is a considerably less cheerful report from Monica Davey from the Minnesota district of Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, "Tea Party Incumbent Raises Profile, and $9.5 Million." An oppositional tone was evident from the first sentence:

The challengers to Representative Michele Bachmann, the polarizing Republican who founded a Tea Party caucus in Congress, sat on the stage of a half-filled junior high school auditorium on a recent evening, hurling critiques, one after the next, against Ms. Bachmann and her views on energy policy, Social Security, veterans' health care, and on and on.


Ms. Bachmann won election to Congress in 2006, but her national profile has expanded enormously over the past two years with her biting condemnations of Democrats - and tax increases, big government, the health care law and big spending - and with her frequent, telegenic and sound-bite-packed visits to the universe of cable news. And so, in a district that sits like a hat atop the Twin Cities, Ms. Bachmann is adored by some and despised by others, but she rarely draws a tepid response.

Davey dutifully recited some of the liberal media's favorite hits against Bachmann.

She first drew broader note in 2008, when she expressed concern in a television interview that Barack Obama, then a candidate for president, "may have anti-American views."

Since then, Ms. Bachmann has become something of a lightning rod - even drawing speculation here among Republicans that Democrats hope to redraw the state's Congressional boundaries to erase Ms. Bachmann's seat. (Democratic leaders deny that.)

Her supporters adore her outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion and what she sees as government spending gone mad, while her critics contend her comments are bizarre. They note her public comments, at various points, that some census forms are inappropriately intrusive, that she viewed her role in Washington as a "foreign correspondent on enemy lines," and that she wondered whether what had transpired during the current administration might be likened to "turning our country into a nation of slaves."

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