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Monday, June 27, 2011

Michele Bachmann

She's said some incredibly stupid stuff, and it's funny, but what's not funny is that her supporters don't care at all. When she announced her campaign in Iowa, she said that John Wayne grew up in her hometown, but it was John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer, who grew up there. She acknowledged the mistake later, but, just like with Sarah Palin, the people who like her aren't bothered at all by the fact-free zone surrounding her. I find that worrisome, especially with the press fawning all over her and treating her like a legitmate political voice.

Matt Taibbi wrote an excellent profile of her in Rolling Stone (with surprisngly little profanity), where, among other things, he notes that she's never lost an election after the first one, for school board. She's not the cream puff that the left would like to think she is. She's a lot more troubling that Sarah Palin, because SP is lazy and has no interest in governing anything. MB, on the other hand, is a tireless campaigner and a very ambitious politician. Matt Taibbi makes that point that the worst thing the left could do is write her off as a joke. His description reminded me a lot of GWB - I was surprised that he was taken seriously as a candidate, but he appeals to the same people she does, and we ended up with 8 long years of him.

Here's some key paragraphs from MT; the last one is the one that sent chills down my spine~

In modern American politics, being the right kind of ignorant and entertainingly crazy is like having a big right hand in boxing; you've always got a puncher's chance. And Bachmann is exactly the right kind of completely batshit crazy. Not medically crazy, not talking-to-herself-on-the-subway crazy, but grandiose crazy, late-stage Kim Jong-Il crazy — crazy in the sense that she's living completely inside her own mind, frenetically pacing the hallways of a vast sand castle she's built in there, unable to meaningfully communicate with the human beings on the other side of the moat, who are all presumed to be enemies.

Bachmann's entire political career has followed this exact same pattern of God-speaks-directly-to-me fundamentalism mixed with pathological, relentless, conscienceless lying. She's not a liar in the traditional way of politicians, who tend to lie dully, usefully and (they hope) believably, often with the aim of courting competing demographics at the same time. That's not what Bachmann's thing is. Bachmann lies because she can't help it, because it's a built-in component of both her genetics and her ideology. She is at once the most entertaining and the most dangerous kind of liar, a turbocharged cross between a born bullshit artist and a religious fanatic, for whom lying to the infidel is a kind of holy duty.

It has taken just over 10 years for Bachmann to go from small-town PTA maven to serious presidential contender, a testament to both her rare and unerring talent for generating media attention, and to her truly astonishing energy level and narcissistic tenacity. Minnesota politicians who have squared off against Bachmann all speak with a kind of horrified reverence for her martial indomitability, her brilliantly fortifying lack of self-doubt, even the fact that she hasn't appeared to physically age at all in 10 years.

. . . getting herself elected is pretty much the only thing she has accomplished in politics. That's not an exaggeration: As both a state senator and a congresswoman, Michele Bachmann has never passed a piece of meaningful legislation. Her time in the Minnesota legislature was concentrated in two lengthy and unsuccessful protest campaigns. The first was a jeremiad against school standards, which fizzled out when Ventura's replacement, then-governor and current presidential rival Tim Pawlenty, backed his own version of school standards with the coming of No Child Left Behind. The other was a hysterical campaign against gay marriage that involved some of the strangest behavior ever attributed to an American elected official.

Images of Michele Bachmann squatting behind a bush or hiding from lesbians in a bathroom would seem to be punch lines of funny stories, but they are not. The real punch line is that rather than destroying her politically, these incidents helped propel her into Congress. In her first two races, in 2006 and 2008, she defeated experienced, credible opponents who failed to realize what they were dealing with until it was too late. Her 2006 win was an especially extraordinary testament to her electoral viability. In a terrible year for conservatives, with the death-spiraling Bush administration taking Republican seats down with them all over the country, Bachmann won a fairly independent district by an eight-point margin. In her runs for Congress, Bachmann discovered — or perhaps it is more accurate to say we all discovered — that a total absence of legislative accomplishment and a complete inability to tell the truth or even to identify objective reality are no longer hindrances to higher office.

Snickering readers in New York or Los Angeles might be tempted by all of this to conclude that Bachmann is uniquely crazy. But in fact, such tales by Bachmann work precisely because there are a great many people in America just like Bachmann, people who believe that God tells them what condiments to put on their hamburgers, who can't tell the difference between Soviet Communism and a Stafford loan, but can certainly tell the difference between being mocked and being taken seriously. When you laugh at Michele Bachmann for going on MSNBC and blurting out that the moon is made of red communist cheese, these people don't learn that she is wrong. What they learn is that you're a dick, that they hate you more than ever, and that they're even more determined now to support anyone who promises not to laugh at their own visions and fantasies.



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