Jun 28 2011

A little piece of me dies


Is America’s plight so terrible that it would lurch this far?

By Matthew Norman, Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Lovers of sledghammer irony, stand by for a doozy. Patience is required, while the odds are both fairly long and mortifyingly short, depending on the closeness of one’s acquaintance with sanity. For all that, there is a quantifiable chance – about one in 20 on Betfair – that we will awake on 7 November 2012 to the news that Michele Bachmann is to be the 45th President of the United States.

If so – here’s that irony – the person to thank for the election of a sensationally ignorant, anti-gay rights zealot will be not Rush Limbaugh or Rupert Murdoch. It will be that venerable grand dame of out-and-proud homosexuality, that paragon of cultured liberalism and intellectual hauteur, Gore Vidal. It was while reading a novel of his that the Minnesota congresswoman, then a liberal and erstwhile Jimmy Carter campaign volunteer, swapped sides.

“I was reading this snotty novel called Burr,” she confided, “and read how he mocked our Founding Fathers. And as a reasonable, decent, fair-minded person” – no sarcasm detectable – “who happened to be a Democrat, I thought, ‘You know what? This mocking of people that I revere, and the country that I love, and that I would lay my life down to defend … At that point I put the book down. I looked out of the window, and I laughed. And I said, ‘You know what? I think I must be a Republican. I don’t think I’m a Democrat’.”

This week, some 30 years after that epiphany, she formally declared her candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination. Everyone expected a borderline barking mom of five, narcissist Tea Party MILF to have a crack. Just not, until recently, this one. There is still a small chance that Sarah Palin will also run. Watching Bachmann soak up all the publicity might stir her into action. You cannot discount the motivational power of Vidal’s dictum that every time a friend succeeds, a little piece of me dies.

Yet Palin’s unfavourable ratings with Republicans, let alone independents, are so horrendous that even in her protective bubble of zany self-absorption, she must see that any campaign would be a kamikaze one. Bachmann, on the other hand, has swiftly soared into a share of the polling lead with Mitt Romney. The sleeper in this campaign is a good ol’ boy Texas Governor with a hotline to the Lord and a passion for executing prisoners – and it’s been much too long since one of those occupied the Oval Office – by the name of Rick Perry. If he enters the fray, everything will change. For now, this race is shaping into the usual primary battle between the establishment front-runner (Romney) and, in Bachmann, the telegenic insurgent.

This in mind, three questions pose themselves. Could she seize the White House? Can she even win the GOP nomination? And just how thick or crazy, or both, is Michele Bachmann? In tribute to the late Eric Morley, we will take them in reverse order. While accurately gauging her idiocy-derangement ratio is hard in the absence of a psychiatric report, Bachmann’s mouth is a reliable launch pad for astounding foolishness. To cheer us all up – if you can’t have a giggle at the thought of the codes falling into such hands, when can you? – here are some highlights.

Wittily replicating the Vidalian impertinence that reshaped her political allegiance, she mocked the Founding Fathers in January by lauding them for “working tirelessly until slavery was no more in the US”. Those would be the FFs who in 1776, a mere 89 years before abolition, agreed that an African-American legally constituted three fifths of a human being, and enshrined slavery in the Constitution?

According to Bachmann, meanwhile, the greatest threat the US faces is nothing so footling as the deficit or long-term mass unemployment (let alone the global warming she inevitably regards as “a hoax”), but gay marriage.

Passing over her defence of carbon dioxide, which she says cannot harm humans because it (like arsenic and uranium) occurs naturally, let’s end the resumé with this peach. “It was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another Democratic president,” she said in reference to her erstwhile idol Mr Carter. “I’m not blaming this on President Obama. I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.”

In the above lies her appeal to the frothing far right … bewildering lack of knowledge; blind terror of otherness; and – the latter’s kissing cousin – paranoid hatred of Barack Obama. Add to that her Palinic gift for viscerally resonating with her base and its prejudices, the facility to raise fortunes, undeniable can-do charm and good humour, and a talent for spouting drivel with sublime confidence then blaming the lamestream media for accurately reporting it … and this is one formidable candidate. With her native state of Iowa the first to vote, her campaign should get off to a flier. With momentum in an unusually volatile political climate, Bachmann, who slaughtered all-comers in her one televised debate so far, certainly could defeat Romney.

The presidency is another matter. Is it conceivable that the love child of Mrs Robinson and Glenn Beck – the sub-McCarthyite minx who uses the Commie code word “unAmerican” of her president; the Creationist whose career is guided at every turn by divine visions; the wingnut’s wingnut who claims her government is colluding with the Chinese to abolish the dollar – could unseat the incumbent?

At this point, convention demands the disclaimer that stranger political things have happened. But unless I slept through Lembit Opik’s appointment as High Chancellor of a federated Europe, or Eric Pickles shaving 0.02 seconds off Usain Bolt’s 100m world record, they haven’t. However wretched the US economy, however stubbornly unemployment hovers close to 10 per cent, however self-destructive America’s mood as it rages against the dying of the imperial light, Michele Bachmann is surely a lurch along the politico-comic interface too far.

Common sense insists that Mr Vidal will never come closer to deciding the presidency than any influence he exerted over his cousin Al Gore. Then again, what possible role has common sense played in her vertiginous rise so far? All we know for sure is that her name’s Michele Bachmann, that she’s running for president, and that watching her do so will be as much fun as anyone has a right to expect within the law.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/matthew-norman/matthew-norman-is-americas-plight-so-terrible-that-it-would-lurch-this-far-2304019.html or http://ind.pn/mCvaRX or http://tinyurl.com/3o2rz9e

Photograph by Jean Malley, disappearing riders, Mar 28, 2005.  http://images.cdn.fotopedia.com/jU4DgYoKM3w-ZG30hWMDREQ-hd.jpg or http://bit.ly/jWwPW9 or http://tinyurl.com/3lyvzg7

Permanent link to this article: http://levantium.com/2011/06/28/a-little-piece-of-me-dies/

2 comments

    • Jacques on June 28, 2011 at 8:46 pm
      Author

    Bachmann presidential bid hits the buffers with John Wayne ‘killer’ gaffe

    By Guy Adams in Los Angeles, Wednesday, 29 June 2011

    After an irresistible rise, Michele Bachmann appears to be experiencing a collision with political reality after the opening 48 hours of her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination were overshadowed by a minor gaffe, a potentially major scandal and a small, but worrisome, dip in her popularity.

    Ms Bachman, a social, fiscal, and religious conservative from Minnesota who owes her prominence to the Tea Party movement, arrived in the early primary state of South Carolina yesterday with a straightforward task: to convince voters that she is “a serious person and a serious candidate for the presidency of the United States”.

    She had intended to spend the day outlining a robust political vision. But headlines were instead at least partly dominated by an incident in which she had unwittingly compared herself to a notorious serial killer.

    The slip of the tongue occurred in Iowa on Monday, at the aptly named town of Waterloo, where she had held her official launch. In a TV interview afterwards, she said: “John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.”

    Fans of Wayne were quick to point out that the screen cowboy was born and brought up in a place called Winterset, 150 miles away. Waterloo’s most famous son is, in fact, John Wayne Gacy. He is better known as the so-called “killer clown”, who raped and murdered at least 33 teenage boys during the 1970s.

    Bachmann’s first reaction to the discovery was to deny any error, arguing that the parents of John Wayne (the actor) once lived in Waterloo. But amid growing ridicule, she later confessed to having “mis-spoken”.

    It was a damaging admission for Ms Bachmann since, despite her popularity among right-leaning Americans who attend Tea Party rallies in tricorn hats, she boasts an unfortunate habit of “mis-speaking” with regard to the nation’s history. In one speech last year, she claimed the opening shots of the Revolutionary War were fired in New Hampshire (it was Massachusetts); in another, she wrongly suggested that the nation’s founding fathers abolished slavery.

    That brand of rhetorical excess extends to her day-to-day politics. During a TV appearance at the weekend, Bachmann was informed that the Pulitzer prize-winning website PolitiFact had analysed 23 of her recent statements about Barack Obama and found just one to be “completely true”. Seven were outright falsehoods.

    Bachmann has also yet to address a report in the Los Angeles Times this weekend claiming that despite her principled endorsement of small government, her family’s farm in rural Wisconsin received $280,000 in government subsidy between 1995 and 2008. Although she publicly claims that “not a penny” went to her, financial disclosure forms obtained by the newspaper appear to show that she was paid dividends of between $32,500 and $105,000, between 2006 and 2009.

    Palin back in the spotlight

    The Sarah Palin show got back on the road last night as the former governor of Alaska and her entourage breezed into the crucial early voting state of Iowa for the premiere of a much-hyped documentary which takes a flattering look at her political life and times.

    In a move which seems designed to fuel speculation about her presidential ambitions, Palin travelled to the 111-year-old opera house in Pella for the first public screening of The Undefeated, which chronicles her rise to prominence and enduring ability to inspire the Republican mainstream.

    Roads were closed and car parks filled with satellite vans for the occasion, which was followed by a barbecue. Police expected it to bring the streets of Pella, a town of 10,000 residents with no less than 36 churches, to a virtual standstill. Organisers prevented the media from attending the screening, meaning critics have yet to get a proper look at the documentary, which is rumoured to liken Palin to Joan of Arc. Instead, most of the 340 tickets went to locals.

    “I didn’t invite all my right-wing Hollywood friends,” director Steve Bannon told The Hollywood Reporter. “Jon Voight, Dennis Miller, I’ll have a screening for those guys later. I’d actually like them to buy a ticket, but they’re so tight… And you can quote me on that.”

    If Ms Palin were to announce a tilt at the White House, she would enter an already crowded race. As well as fellow Tea Party-favourite Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich have all declared.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/bachmann-presidential-bid-hits-the-buffers-with-john-wayne-killer-gaffe-2304028.html or http://ind.pn/jtr5JW or http://tinyurl.com/4347zys

    • Mike Nunn on June 29, 2011 at 7:17 am

    The picture of the horses is perhaps one of the best comments I have seen. Perfect for the articles.

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