It's funny when Michele Bachmann confuses John Wayne with John Wayne Gacy, or Elvis' birthday with the anniversary of his death. But while Bachmann's struggles with American history are amusing, her trouble nailing down the details of her own biography is a bit more disconcerting. Mother Jones' Tim Murphy reports that for years the Republican presidential candidate referred to herself as "Dr. Michele Bachmann." The problem? She's not a doctor. And that's not the only detail from her past that Bachmann has -- to put it charitably -- trouble remembering. It seems, at least, that some of the things Bachmann tells people about herself conflict with what reporters have found when fact-checking the statements.
Not a Doctor
Murphy reports, "Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Bachmann traveled [Minnesota] as an education activist, she went by 'Dr. Michele Bachmann,' even though she had never obtained nor sought the advanced degree that's a prerequisite for the title." Guinea Pig Kids, her 2002 movie opposing a state education law, identifies her as "Dr. Michele Bachmann." Bachmann worked with the activist group Maple River Education Coalition, which put out a news release celebrating her nomination as a Republican candidate for the state legislature in 2000 that said, "Dr. Bachmann herself, who arrived at her convention with no intention of running, was shocked by her victory."
Murphy explains why that's not okay:
"Dr. Bachmann" might have given the activist a bit more gravitas, but it was not an appropriate title. Bachmann received a J.D. -- the standard law school degree -- from Oral Roberts University, and an LL.M. in tax law from William & Mary in 1988. ... But while J.D. (juris doctor) has the word "doctor" in it, it is not accepted practice for J.D.'s to refer to themselves as "Dr."
No Post-Doctorate Degree
In June, Bachmann told Fox News, "I'm not only a lawyer, I have a post-doctorate degree in federal tax law from William and Mary... I work in serious scholarship." That's not a correct characterization of her education, either. Murphy writes, "The LL.M. does count as a post-doctoral degree, as Bachmann says, because it came after she had received a 'terminal degree' -- that is, a degree that can't be directly improved upon."
Not a Tax Litigation Attorney
Bachmann occasionally still refers to herself as a "tax litigation attorney" to show she understands how the federal government hurts average Americans with high taxes. But as Murphy notes, she's not currently authorized
to practice law in Minnesota. Further, she was really more of a tax collector than a tax attorney, National Journal
's Beth Reinhard and Lindsey Boerma
report. As an employee of the IRS, Bachmann took a Native American activist to court for not paying taxes on $30,650 he earned with a non-profit group over three years.
Not Descended from a Long Line of Iowa Prairie Preachers
reports that Bachmann told a long tale about her family's roots in Iowa to a group of voters earlier this year. She said her family moved to Iowa in the 1850s -- after reading the Muskego Manifesto, a letter written by Norweigan settlers back to the home country -- during a harsh winter, terrible floods, and a plague of locusts. But they stuck it out and founded the first Lutheran church there. But that isn't entirely true. Bachmann's ancestors arrived 12 years after the letter manifesto was written, and besides, Muskego is in Wisconsin, not Iowa. There were already Lutheran churches in the area by the time her family arrived.
Not a Devoted Family Reunion Attendee
This week Bachmann told Iowans she was late to an event because she was attending her annual family reunion in the state the same day. But her own mom told Politico's Ben Smith
Bachmann was a no-show. And Bachmann's first cousin told NBC News
that she hadn't seen the candidate at a family reunion in "about 10 years."