Bachmann is not the first to use such a metaphor. In an article at Bloomberg.com which has been widely reprinted, titled "Obama Needs To Find His Inner Dirty Harry, columnist Margaret Carlson used the phrase:
It’s up to the new sheriff in town to put things right. President Barack Obama has replaced the laissez-faire Bush administration officials, like Wall Street sympathizer Henry Paulson, with armed and dangerous regulators who would bring reckless Masters of the Universe to justice.
Does anyone think Carlson literally called for regulators to be armed and dangerous? Simlarly, a post at Fox News used the phrase in describing Sarah Palin's looks. And there's even an "armed and dangerous" Obama action figure.
A post at Politico refers to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell as "armed and dangerous" in his support of Hilary Clinton during the primaries against Barack Obama. Was Politico actually suggesting that Rendell carried weapons and was a physical threat to Obama?
Anderson Cooper posted a blog entry titled "Michelle Obama: Armed and dangerous" regarding the New Yorker Magazine cover showing Michelle Obama carrying a weapon. "Armed and Dangerous also is the title of a 1985 John Candy comedy movie.
Bill O'Reilly, in a column at Time Magazine on September 11, 2008 (just a week after he interviewed Barack Obama), described himself as "armed and dangerous" when he enters an interview. Obama himself was quoted as saying that one of the reasons he ran for President was to have "armed and dangerous" secret service agents escort his daughters on dates.
A post on March 9, 2009 by Dahlia Lithwick at Slate, aptly titled Armed and Dangerous, opined over the Michelle Obama sleeveless dress talk. Another blogger suffering from Bush-Palin derangement syndrome referred to them as "armed and dangerous." Another Slate columnist referred to Alan Greenspan as "ARMed and Dangerous" in a play on the acronym for Adujstible Rate Mortgage.
"Armed and Dangerous" was the topic of a conference in Berkeley, CA, of the California First Amendment Coalition:
ARMED AND DANGEROUS - Americans enjoy among the best free speech and 0pen-government laws in the world. But such freedoms mean nothing if journalists
and citizens don't know how to use them. Get the weapons you need to make your work more competitive, compelling and controversial.
So it's all about context, and not pulling phrases out of their natural and intended meaning. Clearly, Bachmann was not calling for armed insurrection, just as Politico was not calling Ed Rendell a criminal threat to Obama, and Margaret Carlson was not calling for regulators to open fire.
But in today's gotcha media environment, where left-wing blogs and media organizations scour transcripts for a phrase which can be twisted, context and truth have no place.