For the past year, the right has overindulged itself in all sorts of crazy fearmongering over the 2010 census. From fears that President Barack Obama’s appointee to run the census, Robert M. Groves, might use statistical sampling to nefariously ensure a more accurate count of poor people, to darkly warning that ACORN would be entirely in charge of conducting it, we’ve heard it all.
Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), was famously allowed to use her celebrity and her ability to rile up the paranoid to inveigh against the 2010 count. At times, she’s vowed to flout the law and not participate, encouraging others to do the same. She’s stoked the same bonkers fears over ACORN, as well. She’s also darkly alluded to internment camps, because why not?
BACHMANN: If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the census bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations, at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I’m not saying that’s what the Administration is planning to do. But I am saying that private, personal information that was given to the census bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up.
Well, that was all a lot of fun back in the heady days of 2009 when it was important to get angry people out in public as often as possible to draw Hitler mustaches on health care reform. But now that the census is being conducted, there’s a worry that people might actually take all this craziness seriously, so Republicans are frantically trying to put their bipolar census anger-genie back into the bottle.
Yes indeedy. Blaine Luetkemeyer and Jo Ann Emerson are quoted in a Thursday Post-Dispatch story about the possibility that Missouri could well lose one of its nine seats to Minnesota. Emerson, whose district had some of the lowest rate of return of the forms in the state, understands–well, understands now, anyway–how serious the situation is:
“We’ve got a lot of work yet to do, obviously,” she said. “The number of congressional districts, the number of dollars coming into the state, depends on us getting the highest count possible.”
She lays the blame for undercounting in Southern Missouri on the difficulty of “‘pinpointing the number of people who live on farms that may be miles apart.'” True, such isolation doesn’t help the counting, but Lacy Clay isn’t letting her gloss over Republican attitudes that easily:
Clay remarked that the lack of participation also might be traced to anti-government sentiments that are especially strong in southern Missouri.
Like Emerson, Luetkemeyer is all dignified concern, now that Republican scare tactics might come home to roost:
“It would impact every single district and the amount of representation we have here in Washington,” he said. “We would lose an electoral vote, which would mean we have less impact on presidential elections.”
While it’s kind of fun watching those two try to stuff the anger-genie back in the bottle, it may be too late. Such adult reasoning bores the “make my veins pop” crowd. The fact is that Republicans have done some damage to this year’s census. But I’m struck by this injustice: Michele Bachmann, the loudest brayer of them all, didn’t get hoist on her own petard. No, no. Her district had a very high return rate–80 percent–of the forms. That could tip the scales so that Missouri ends up losing a seat, and Clay and Carnahan could conceivably end up running against each other. It could turn out that Bachmann would get off scot free after all her bleating about the census, and we could lose a good Dem in Congress. If that happens, I will be further confirmed in my suspicion that there is no god.
(photo courtesy of Talking Points Memo)