Re. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) took to the House floor today in support of the legislation to eliminate furloughs of air traffic controllers at the Federal Aviation Administration — which has led to flight delays — that were imposed as part of a long-ago deal with the White House to automatically cut the federal budget unless Democrats and Republicans agreed on an overall reformed budget (colloquially known as “sequestration”). The legislation, which carves out a second exception of what observers expect will eventually be several exemptions to the budget-slashing deal affecting every agency, eventually passed the House and the President is expected to sign it over the objection of some Democrats who have argued that carving out exemptions for service losses that primarily affect America’s wealthy and upper middle class leaves programs for America’s poor facing an even tougher road.
Bachmann was having none of that.
“We were listening to Representative Hoyer and Representative Pelosi be extremely passionate about the loss that we’ll see for children through Head Start, for senior citizens through Meals on Wheels, for children who will be dealing with various other food nutrition programs. That breaks everyone’s hearts. But I want to remind the people of this country that it was Former Speaker Pelosi, Representative Hoyer, Senator Reid and President Obama who signed the sequestration bill, and it was Press Secretary Jay Carney who admitted that the sequestration was President Obama’s idea. There were numerous Republicans that voted against the sequestration because we knew all of these calamities were in the future. And so it reminds me of the Shakespeare line, ‘Thou protestest too much.’ Didn’t you know this was going to happen? We knew it. That’s why we voted against this bill, and it seems like the higher the level of passion, that equals the conscience that we’re seeing of those who voted the wrong way on this bill the first time.”
Though Bachmann obviously misquoted Shakespearean line, which is “The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” she also mistook the colloquial meaning — that someone objects to something so vociferously as to make the observer suspect that the speaker believes the opposite — and attributed the protestations to an attack of conscience. However, in Shakespearean times, “protest” actually meant to avow something, not object to it (a meaning that came into use in the mid-eighteenth century). In Hamlet Act 3, Scene 2, Gertrude says the line in response to a query from her son Hamlet about a play they are watching in which the fictional Queen promises her husband to never marry again because she loves him so much — i.e., she is promising so much, it is almost not to be believed. (Gertrude, by that point in the play, had remarried after Hamlet’s father’s death and over his objections.)
In other words, what Bachmann actually unknowingly accused Pelosi and Hoyer of was not caring about Head Start, Meals on Wheels or reduced-price school lunches at all.
Watch the video, first uploaded by Mediaite from C-SPAN, below: