Bachmann Christian Overdrive

I’m sort of sick of both 1. mocking and 2. being afraid of the Christian right. Even when they’re gaining increased relevancy, or perhaps because of it. I’m sick of the Christian right like I’m sick of a fly buzzing around my face. And the mainstream media is particularly insidious – only reporting in the vaguest terms that “Bachmann is popular with the religious right” without reporting on exactly what that implies. There may never be hard questions about her faith, because faith is supposedly a personal issue, even if it dictates her entire political outlook.

At least the Daily Beast is on it: Michele Bachmann’s Unrivaled Extremism

On Monday, Bachmann didn’t talk a lot about her religion. She didn’t have to—she knows how to signal it in ways that go right over secular heads. In criticizing Obama’s Libya policy, for example, she said, “We are the head and not the tail.” The phrase comes from Deuteronomy 28:13: “The Lord will make you the head and not the tail.” As Rachel Tabachnick has reported, it’s often used in theocratic circles to explain why Christians have an obligation to rule.

I get a sad vibe from Michelle Bachmann – unlike Sarah Palin, who’s more of a mean girl who’d hurt people for sport. Bachmann strikes me more as someone who’s deeply deeply repressed and thinks the more conservative she becomes, the more she can keep these problems at a distance. Her husband might be gay. That’s less menacing than a Sarah Palin – Bachmann’s a scandal away from complete collapse. So I’m not scared yet – wake me when she’s the nominee and leading in the polls. Even after reading this:

The religious right has its origins and deepest roots in social issues, as Goldberg shows. But it has evolved into a more full-fledged worldview with coherent positions on economics and foreign policy that often motivate its believers just as strongly. That is a key development that the many analysts who have been dismissing Bachmann have failed to grasp. Twenty years ago, a figure like Bachmann would represent a sizeable but still minority constituency in the party, speaking to a cadre motivated by social issues but unable to represent the concerns of most Republican voters. (For instance, Pat Robertson, the televangelist who turned in a strong showing in the 1988 Iowa caucus but fizzled afterward.)

But Bachmann is a cutting edge religious right conservative, espousing an apocalyptic free market fundamentalism that’s become virtually indistinguishable from the apocalyptic Randian worldview of the party’s libertarian wing. Bachmann spent months addressing Tea Party rallies where she focused primarily on economics. Meanwhile, the movement’s embrace of right-wing Israeli nationalism has merged with mainstream Republican foreign policy thought….

The skepticism about Bachmann’s prospects reflects an antiquated assumption that there’s a natural ceiling within the GOP on the support base of a hard-core religious conservative.

I’m not sure I buy it. Being a hard-core Christian rightist could get her the nomination, but that’s a far cry from winning the presidency. At least not yet. And to get controversial – Barack Obama offers a buffer against a Bachmann presidency. At some point a candidate will come along who will cater to all Christians – including minority Christians, of which there’s a lot. Until then, Bachmann is a fringe candidate speaking to a hard core whites-only base, which is depressing, but less threatening than the true wolf in sheep’s clothing religious fanatic who appeals across party lines. Unfortunately, this is probably inevitable, and we’re at the beginning stages of a theocratic presidency sometime in the future.

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