Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Here She Comes......
Well, you had to know it would happen. Michelle Bachmann used the Republican debate in New Hampshire last night to inform the nation that she has filed the papers declaring her candidacy for president. David Gregory, a senior NBC political corespondent, said this morning that he had never actually seen anybody manipulate the media so cleverly in this way. She knew that doing this would almost guarantee her the spotlight in this news cycle, despite all the other candidates trying their best to stand out from the 'crowd', and it worked just as she had planned.
When Bachmann emerged on the national political scene, my initial reaction, along with many others, was that she was a joke. She said things that were so astonishingly stupid, made such outlandish statments--like that we should require a 'loyalty test' for members of congress--that it was impossible to take her seriously. We also had another woman who was saying and doing things that would preclude thinking of her as an intelligent and sane adult: Sarah. So, it was easy to imagine that Bachmann was just another Palin, but possibly even dumber.
Now, hold on, just one cotton-pickin' minute, there, fellah. Lately, Bachmann has been reminding people that she has been a 'tax attorney'. She's been quite aware of her image and is taking steps to improve it. She also knows that her audience is the far Christian right....the so-called 'Evangelicals', and she plays to their sensibilities in clarion tones that resonate with them, big time. It seems apparent that she is improving her technique as she goes, and suddenly the congresswoman from Minnesota, who was regarded as a slower and nuttier second to Palin until just recently, is sitting on a stage in Manchester New Hampshire with a small group of politicians who are considered the only serious possible contenders for the Republican nomination. And, Sarah Palin was not there. Whoa!!!! Wha' happened?
I can tell you this: Michelle Bachmann is NOT the stupid bufoon and Christian pedant that we so blithely dismissed. She is smart, determined, sly, manipulative and--hold on--one of the most dangerous figures to emerge onto the American political stage in generations. She is the personification of Sinclair Lewis's archetypal fascist figure who, on arrival among us, will be: "....wrapped in the flag and carrying the Bible".
She sees the world through a lens that filters everything into categories: Christian, not-Christian, Patriotic, not so much, for me, agin' me. And, should she ever gain real political power, the means to enact policies and directives that conform with her world-view, it's going to be a dark day in American history.
She will be inclined to persecute her perceived enemies in any way that she can. She will move this country in subtle and not so subtle ways towards being even more Christo-centric than it ever has been. Tolerance and acceptance are weaknesses in the world she inhabits. If you are not on her side, you will be 'the enemy'. Left unimpeded, she would create the Christian equivalent of an Islamic Republic. Luckily, she is not running for dictator, and there are built-in balances and constraints....which, I predict now, she will try to dismantle if we face another crisis on the order of 9-11.
A decade ago I wrote a novel, "Above and Beyond" much of it set in Nazi Germany in the 30s and 40s. It followed the lives of a young couple in southern Bavaria. The young woman, Gabriele, knew from the outset who Hitler was, and when she tried to explain how she knew this, she ultimately resorted to, "I can see it in his eyes, Hans. It is right there."
And, that is how I feel about Michelle Bachmann. I HOPE I am wrong....but, I don't believe I am.