That Michele Bachmann thing seems to be so over for the religious right. Her skin is too perfect and her eyes don’t focus? I dunno. But that good-lookin’ rascal, Rick Perry, has done stole all her thunder.
In a half-sane party, Michele would have been a walking talking liability from Day One. Yet, if Rick Perry hadn’t come along, her star would still be rising and an apparently starved-for-stories national media would still be hitching a ride on her tour bus. She went too far over the top—even for a fawning media—last week when she had her little hurricane moment. The comment, which went viral in all the mainstream outlets, is still too good to pass up:
I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending.
All in jest was the word from Bachmann spokesperson Alice Stewart, but we knew better. We know it rings true; it’s how she thinks. She had set that whole God thing up—that God drives my campaign bus thing—so that anybody who was just a little bit skeptical knew the “jest” story was faux the minute they heard the spin.
The claim that it was a joke rang ugly as stories appeared on TV showing devastation in New England and the death toll passed 46. The raw truth is, Michele is a motormouth. She gets up onstage, makeup all aglow, and just starts to riff. Truth is usually the first casualty of her charisma, but here we have something else, a blatant lack of, well, decency, in the sense that decency requires sensitivity to context, and when that context includes intense pain and loss to uncounted people, well, sometimes you should just shut up.
But she didn’t. She kept that motormouth running while the tour bus engine idled, and tied the hurricane to, of all stupid things, government spending, and frankly, thank God the joke seems to be on her. Never mind that it was just a jumbled, disordered, I’m-in-a-hurry-to-make-my-point kind of thing; that’s what Michele does. Repeatedly. And the points she’s making, were she to gain power, would most definitely be at our expense.
So Texas motormouth Rick Perry joins the race and Michele begins to sink like a stone, falling even below perennial bottom feeder Ron Paul in the Gallup and Public Policy Polling polls to a lowly fourth place. Live by the quip, die by quip. And yes, isn’t it ironic that Perry’s messaging strategy is just the same as Bachmann’s? To wit, I am a cannon so loose I am guaranteed to insult someone the instant I open my mouth unless you duct-tape my tongue to the roof of my mouth. Even as Perry is making gaffes right and left regarding everything from the president's patriotism to Ben Bernanke = Benedict Arnold he is eclipsing Bachmann at her own game.
Is Perry any less dangerous than Bachmann? We can’t compare because Bachmann has never held an executive position. And even as Perry is known as a tongue-on-fire gaffer, Texas hasn’t seceded or done anything really crazy…yet. But I don’t think that experience is the only reason why Perry has eclipsed her. One, he’s a man. That counts for something on the prayer-circuit right. Even Michele by her own “stand by your man” ethos seems to acquiesce to that twinge of raw, Biblically-based sexism. Two, he has more money at his disposal than, well, not God, but face it, he’s loaded while Michele never really cozied up to the real wealth on the corporate right.
Rick Perry brings home the bacon for corporate interests in Texas—taxpayer bacon—and every company in America is licking its chops over the prospect of a Perry presidency. It would be impossible to find a better candidate to hand over federal largesse to business while butchering the Big Pig once and for all.
Face it. Michele rings a tad…unstable. People perceive that. Her eyes don’t entirely focus. Perry…Perry is a take charge, take-down-Obama kind of guy; just perfect for this fourth summer of our discontent. And though Michele was no lightweight in her anti-Obama ardor, her blows failed to land with sufficient gravitas except perhaps in the eyes of her adoring Iowa minions. Which is of course why the Iowa straw poll should be wiped from the face of the earth—and Iowa should be made to go last forever.
It is interesting just now, as Michele’s star corrodes, how papers like my Minneapolis Star Tribune finally begin to examine her record. Tony Kennedy, writing on August 21, found that while she claimed that her work as an IRS tax attorney revealed the real enemy to her, it amounted more to her going after poor suckers on behalf of the government. So when she said, “I went to work in that system because the first rule of war is ‘Know your enemy,’” you really have to ask—Who was her enemy? The agency she worked for or the people she went after? Leaves a little sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, doesn’t it?
That said, contrary to her pumped-up claims of being a “federal tax litigation attorney,” she litigated, like, two cases or something—and those might best be described as pro forma, hardly the right pickins’ for a big-shot “federal tax litigation attorney.” Former co-workers quoted anonymously in the Kennedy article, “recall that Bachmann mostly stuck to lower-rung work—settling taxpayer disputes before trial and handling her share of collection matters, refund cases and advisory work in potential criminal matters.”
I’m sorry. Did I hear collection matters? Like when people call up debtors on the phone and hound them to pay their debts? This, then, is the belly of the beast?
Without getting straight to post mortems, it looks like Michele is history, or more a minor footnote, except for those of us in Minnesota who will have to live with her for the rest of our lives. That’s a good thing, though, for the rest of you—unless you were looking forward to seeing her get slaughtered by Barack Obama in the general election, you sadists.
Maybe the right is just deciding that Rick Perry represents a “fairer fight.” Maybe the Republican Party will just tear itself apart in a Romney-Perry dustup and then reluctantly regroup to support the winner. That would put them in a similar bag to the Democrats, whose progressive wing feels discarded, ill-used, and sold-out by a certain occupant of the White House. A “fair fight” it is then. Very soon, and not soon enough, I’m betting you won’t have Michele Bachmann to kick around anymore. And Rick Perry? I’m sure the good lookin’ rascal can take it.