Steve Klingaman

Steve Klingaman
Minneapolis, Minnesota,
January 01
Steve Klingaman is a nonprofit development consultant and nonfiction writer specializing in personal finance and public policy. His music reviews can be found at

SEPTEMBER 1, 2011 8:39AM

Michele Bachmann’s Last Laugh

Rate: 17 Flag



 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.


Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Mr Perry will soon also 'ring a tad unstable'. Trust me on this. r.
I think you've sized it up about right Steve. But watch, if Bachman's star continues its fade, Palin will step in to fill the unqualified wacko void.
Yes, and by the way Palin responded to Karl Rove's prediction that she would, you can tell she desperately wants to keep stirring that media pot.
Sorry this is long. The way she backed off it was not the way to do that. She probably just shuold have said, "If I hurt anyone's feelings, I'm sorry. Here's what my minister thinks about such things in a general sense."
In any event, Perry has the Texas money and name recognition that makes it him or Romney. I owe PJ on OS a beer per Palin, as Bachman was her twin, maybe even a stalking horse, and Perry is of course you know who's twin stalking horse.
Igor Panarin was basically correct about certain things btw, if hopefully not splitting the country, then definitely as to cliques in the power elite, as foreigners often are, since to them, it doesn't bother their suspension of belief at the "home theater" movie they are watching. Get it? It's like that everywhere, the sort of unstated assumptions, and it has to be, as you can't reinvent the wheel daily,
There are people you might not agree with about politics, but you wouldn't really just dismiss either, but who do see such warnings in things, at least as something to keep in the back of their mind. Whether that is true or not is also unknowable. Such beliefs used to be rather common, and not having them the minority view, for example among the Puritans, who did found the country, but not just them. The Scots-Irish tend to be like that too. The Virginians as High Church had a different take, closer to the Catholics, for obvious historical reasons.
As to an annecdote on this general point, I had a conversation once with someone who had a dream they the face of God, kind of like the Pearl that a character in a movie saw named Sharon. "Sharon" is a rational person, who then went on to say, "But I don't know about all that Old Testament stuff." I said, "I would be careful assuming that you have that choice about things. Not obviously that I'm some great Christian, just that if you see what you think is the face of God in a dream, then ... think about what it says." Sharon's movie has an interesting point about that, a film by Michael Tolkin, if you want to look it up.My Catholic wife hated it. I was a Southern Protestant, and if it wasn't perfect, the Job-like quality to Sharon's Choice, it was what I knew to be as faith, and still is. She thought it mocked Christianity; I didn't see it that way at all, and I don't think Mimi Rogers did either.
That's not what Christ said about that stuff, but that view of a more humanistic Christianity is these days of course more popular, since it is less demanding, just be nice. Could be.
These days, people like their God to be much more like Mr. Rogers than Cotton Mather, not very judgmental, no swinging swords of divine justice meted out in mysterious ways, or, they like no God at all, especially those with a scientific bent. And they could be right.
Of course, if Milton was correct as to the character of Lucifer, or really if Goethe was correct in Dr. Faustus, then, they would be wrong. One will never fully know until the end of one's life, presumably.
Job 38-4"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the universe?" Not exactly the most comforting, kind, gentle God one could picture under Job's circumstances, some modern religious people tend to think. It's still there. Maybe that just means that disasters are warnings in a general sense; "Just remember, not your universe but mine." Or, maybe it's like Job, "God allows these things to happen so Lucifer can test our faith." Or, "maybe its a Deisistic universe, or just a cold one, and these things happen, like a bad lottery." She didn't really talk like that, which is offputting to most people in this day and age, and in response to the uproar, there were better ways to back off, although, Lincoln did say this, and I pasted in the whole paragraph so it's not selectively quoting, and although Southerners saw his an an anti-Christ figure by and large, most Northern liberal do not, Second Inaugural, his last big speech:
"One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." That's not a Mr. Rogers vision of God's purposes, if maybe he was just being a very articulate politician who knew his audience well. Maybe Bachmann's audience isn't ready to hear such things anymore either, but she wouldn't have been the only person to ever think that way, or just wonder.
If Perry has enough sense to stay away from the late season county fairs and corn dogs he should stay well ahead of her.
Rick Perry reminds me very strongly of the dictator of the United States, Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip. in the old Sinclair Lewis novel, "It Can't Happen Here".
You're absolutely right about the Religious Wrong not warming to women leaders. I was on the pastor search committee at our local Presbyterian church here in the East TN mountains -- a church that is a bastion of liberality compared to the Southern Baptists churches that surround us. Yet the group would not even consider a female pastor -- and the women on the committee were the most vocal opponents to a woman preacher.

As for the Religious Wrong's supposed corner on "knowing" God's mind well enough to assign blame for disasters, I have it on VERY good authority that -- like every other idea in their pretzel-logic world -- they've got it bass-ackwards:

And God said: "My Chosen People did not obey my commandments, so I sent my Son to deliver an even simpler message unto them: Feed the poor. But they delivered him up to be crucified. In my wrath, I set the Romans upon them.

My Neo-Chosen People somehow twisted that message into "God wants you to be rich". Woe unto Blasphemers! I sent a plague of locusts disguised as Reaganites to strip them bare of all their possessions. I sent the Dogs of War called Bush and Cheney to impoverish them by beating their plowshares into swords. I sent the false prophets of the Randian heresy to preach among them, and fools paid them heed. I sent shrieking sirens Sarah and Michelle to torment their souls and rot their minds. Yet their hearts remained hardened.

Must I now send Satan himself in the form of demon Perry to open their eyes and hearts?"
Whenever her eyes are out of focus - she isn't unstable; she's getting a Message from "You Know Who"! R
Bachmann being history would be satisfying if it weren't for all the other ninnies who are left. (I mean right) (I mean wrong)
I am just glad that we can get information and see these people for what they really are. Hopefully that will be enough to keep the super wackos out of the running. Not sure, just a hope...
sorry for the rudeness, but look at her husband....she has not been screwed well for a long wonder she is into god! And don't call me a is life!!
Insightful as always.

Don, did you actually have a point in all that? I read it, but I saw no proposed point, no reference to one, and no conclusion in the end. So I am left with wondering -- what were you attempting to get across?

you can comfort yourself that such a lightweight crazoid is off the screen, if you want. but she's off because she has been eclipsed by an equally crazy but richer and more brutal 'marlboro man' from texas.

since the mouth breathers are gonna wanna drink a beer with perry, this is 'dubya vs gore' over again, except dubya has been replaced with a genuine thug, and gore by a, how to say this, gentleman of color? who has no visible character at all. how do you think that race will end?

the good news is, the system is so corrupt that even an imperial president can accomplish little, either good or bad. the bad news is, the system is so ineffective that general collapse is looking possible.

but don't bother yer heads about it, dear sheeple. yer betters will work the nation's destiny to their personal advantage, and you can't do a thing about it. so relax, turn to the sports channel, drink a beer.
Oh, how I'd love to see her gone but, Perry scares me more in that he may actually win the presidency. God help us all.
Perry can certainly faux pas with the best of them, but his corporate funding and connections will be hard to beat if he is the Republican nominee because he will combine that with the religious-right backing. Romney won't be able to get the Reglionists I bet - Mormonism is a cult in the eyes of most evangelicals.
Don't you know that the problem with Michele is that she's a woman? GOP men will never allow that. And that Rick Perry? He's a damn good looking rogue, he is. And that's the only characteristic that I luk for when I iz voting for pRESSIDENT.

And did I tell you, they're both Christian fundies? That'll go good with Jews, Muslims, and mainstream religious folk,etc. who make up only 70% of the population.
The problem with all of the presidential candidates is, the very act of desiring that job makes them unsuitable to do it. You have to have something broken inside of you to stand in front of a crowd and proclaim, "Look at me! I am the only one that is good enough to lead you!" Perry and Bachmann are very broken.
As it stands now, it' hard to believe the current crop of GOP hopefuls are, well, even in serious contention for the job. Virtually all of them are so flawed that the great mass of voters would never elect either of them.....right?

This is all a hugely bad dream.

Yet, this particular election may turn out to be the most important in several years as at least two seats on the Supreme Court will come open and the next President will certainly either swing the balance back to a centrist court or administer the "final solution" to any hope of balance.
I tend to distrust anyone whose smile is that tooth-baring and tense. Even if I didn't know she was batshit crazy and should never be given a code to anything including a kid's locked bicycle. Let alone anything that would launch an ICBM.

But it's predictable--in a crowd that hidebound, they're never going to do anything so weirdly advanced as elect a woman, even if she could run crazy circles around them all. Enter Perry the White Guy and Dubya Redux.