Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Explaining Michelle Bachmann to the Brits

Michael Tomasky is an American correspondent for the British newspaper, The Guardian.

Recently he wrote a commentary to his British readers explaining recent remarks by U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (pictured above). Speaking on a US cable network station, Bachmann expressed concerns that the views of Barack Obama, along with other members of the US Congress, may be “anti-American.” (Interestingly, Bachmann failed to articulate what constitutes an anti-American view or who gets to judge if a view is in fact anti-American or not.)

Following is an excerpt from Tomasky’s piece in The Guardian about Michelle Bachmann.


. . . I know you’ve got your xenophobes just like we do. But trust me. You don’t have a right wing that’s anything like our right wing.

This point was proved most dramatically by a woman named Michele Bachmann, a member of Congress from Minnesota. In an interview last Friday on Hardball, a leading US cable talk show, host Chris Matthews asked Bachmann whether Obama worried her. “Absolutely. I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views,” she said. He asked her what she thought distinguished liberal from hard left from anti-American. If she maintains such distinctions in her mind, she refused to acknowledge them. Then, finally, Matthews - who deftly fed her the rope to hang herself - asked her how many members of the US Congress held, in her view, anti-American views.

It’s been almost a two-year [presidential] campaign. There have been moments we’ve thought of as memorable, only to see the tide of events erase their mark from the sand. Bachmann’s answer, however, will live imperishably: “What I would say – what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating exposé and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an exposé like that.”

Before we go any further – who is this Bachmann? She’s a first-term backbencher from exurban Minneapolis who says the Lord told her to run for Congress. She declared herself “a fool for Christ” in 2006 when she announced her candidacy. By all accounts she’s down with the whole rightwing Christian package: immigrants bring disease and pestilence, homosexuals want to indoctrinate straight children, and so on. Republican leadership undoubtedly pushed her out on to television because she is, as you Brits say, a looker – at least by the standards of Congress.

The call for an investigation into the beliefs of every federal lawmaker, and an exposé of those found wanting in their patriotism, certainly takes us into deeply creepy territory. I would not call Bachmann herself a fascist. Odd as it sounds, to do so would be to grant her far too much credit. For one to embrace an -ism, even a repugnant one, one needs to have read a certain amount of history and political philosophy. Bachmann is just an idiot. She wouldn’t know Edmund Burke from Billie Burke (she played the good witch in the Wizard of Oz), and she obviously has no idea that, in her rejection of the two bedrock American principles of separation of church and state and freedom of thought, she is the one who is as anti-American as they come.

But friends, all is not darkness. Bachmann’s appearance caused a national uproar. Colin Powell, in endorsing Obama yesterday, said of Bachmann’s comments that “we have got to stop this kind of nonsense and pull ourselves together.” Her Democratic opponent raised nearly half a million dollars from around the country in just 24 hours, and he now has a chance of beating her.

That would be nice. But let’s go back to the big contest. With Bachmann, the lid came off the rightwing id. It will happen many more times over these next two weeks. McCain, now openly using the word “socialist” to describe Obama’s proposals (the week after his friend George W Bush took federal control of nine major banks!), and especially Palin have shown every sign of encouraging it. Their goal is to scare Americans about Obama, but moderate, independent voters might well decide that Obama looks a lot less scary than they do.


An additional piece of information about Michelle Bachmann: her husband is an evangelical Christian psychotherapist with a practice in Woodbury, MN. One of his specialties is “conversion” or “reparative” therapy, the theory and practice that treats homosexuality as a pathology, as a disorder that can be “repaired” and changed.

According to Laura Billings of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Bachmann’s husband was one of a number of presenters at the November 10, 2005 Pastors’ Summit in Eden Prairie, MN.

Wrote Billings: “[M]ore than 300 religious leaders gathered at the Minnesota Pastors’ Summit at a suburban mega-church to figure out how to keep gay people from getting married to each other. They attended interesting seminars of their own, including one led by Sen. Michele Bachmann’s therapist husband, which promised to reveal ‘the truth of the homosexual lifestyle.’”

The Pastors’ Summit was actively endorsed by the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Minnesota. In response, Catholic Rainbow Parents sent a letter to the priests and deacons of the archdiocese, part of which reads as follows:

As Catholic parents, we can no longer stand by and watch as our Church leaders feign ecumenical interests while openly working to disparage our [gay] children and to deny their rights in the name of God and Jesus – the same Jesus who demanded that we love God and each other as God loves us.

Some of you have already decided not to participate in this summit and for this we applaud your conviction. To the rest, we ask that you refuse to go or if you feel you must be there, to please break the conspiracy of silence that endorses discrimination in the name of religion.

As it turned out, very few priests ended up attending the summit. To read the Catholic Rainbow Parents’ letter in his entirety, click here.

Thanks to my friend Rick who first alerted me to Tomasky piece via his always informative blogsite, South Lyndale.

Recommended Off-site Links:
Does Michelle Bachmann Even Know When She’s Stepped In It? - Brian Lambert (Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine, October 19, 2008).
Suddenly, Bachmann Race Looks Different - Pat Doyle (Star Tribune, October 20, 2008)
Bachmann: Obama Comments “Misconstrued” - United Press International (October 20, 2008).
Colin Powell Endorses Obama: Growing Ruling Class Consensus Behind Democratic Candidate - Barry Grey (World Socialist Web Site, October 20, 2008).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Obama, Ayers, the “S” Word, and the “Most Politically Backward Layers in America”
In Curtailing “Red Meat Rhetoric,” McCain is Booed by Supporters
As Obama Campaign Gain Momentum, FOX News Goes Into “Oh, Crap!” Mode
”Clichés and Tired Attack Lines”
Sarah Palin and the Rove-Cheney Cabal
Holding McCain Accountable to His Falsehoods
The Shadow is Real
It Won’t Last
All Those Community Organizers? Who Needs Them!
Sarah Palin’s “Theocratic Fascist” Affiliations
Progressives and Obama (Part 1)
Progressives and Obama (Part 2)
Progressives and Obama (Part 3)
Progressives and Obama (Part 4)
Progressives and Obama (Part 5)
Historic (and Wild!)
An American Prayer

Image: Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., explains the need for more oil drilling and production during a July 7, 2008 news conference. (Minnesota Public Radio Photo/Tim Pugmire)

1 comment:

Renegade Eye said...

Bachmann is obviously nuts, and deserves to get the boot off the political landscape.

The Democrats need to be held to the same standards, on war, racism, economic issues, immigration, sexual issues etc. The GOP is dead, probably forever.