Congresswoman Michele Bachmann just has the worst luck. In the last few months Bachmann had smashed Sarah Palins little red wagon by actually knowing how to campaign. (Of course Bachmann kept her Teahadist credibility by still being totally bats**t insane.) Bachmann had become the chief alternative to Mitt Romney. Palin had hoped to be that choice, but disqualified herself by sheer laziness, incompetence and flakiness.
But now Rick Perry has done unto Bachmann what she did unto Palin. His entry into the race took all the meaning out of Bachmann's failure to self-implode in the first Iowa debate in August. She held her position as the anti-Romney, but only for one day after the debate.
Bachmann finds herself left as described by William Faulkner, writing about time, with reference to Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, in 1948's "Intruder in the Dust":
Its all now you see. Yesterday wont be over until tomorrow and tomorrow began ten thousand years ago. For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when its still not yet two oclock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and its all in the balance, it hasnt happened yet, it hasnt even begun yet, it not only hasnt begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin ....
Poor Michie. She will continue, like those 14-year-old Post-Confederate boys didwith Gettysburg, to replay as the high water mark of her campaign the moment of the first Iowa debate. It could have gone the other way from there. But her hopes forever blighted on the cusp of blooming Perry now inevitably becomes the anti-Romney, the great white hope of the Christer wing of the Repugnant Party.
Christers are different from Christians in a number of colorful ways. A Christian may be self-righteous a Christer cannot be otherwise. A Christian may espouse any one of several orthodoxies, not all of them Procrustean a Christer is always all Bible-inerrancy all the time, except where it says there is no divorce and you have to personally kill certain sinners and what about all those dietary restrictions ... A Christian may be unable to detect any New Testament prohibition against homosexuality a Christer intuits them where he cannot read them. In general, Christers operate within the definition H. L. Mencken gave of Puritanism: The sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere may be having fun.
At bottom, Bachmann suffers hideous disabilities against Perry. She is a woman in a hierarchical, authoritarian party with a rigid defense of all forms of inequality as its principal ideology. She is a middle-westerner when it is southerners and westerners who most want to be excited to fever pitch. No one can claim she is a decent person, or has boundaries beyond which she will not go, but she has never been up against as vicious a weasel as Perry before. Moreover Perry perfectly fits the Rethug methodology of treating Presidential campaigns as if they were advertising vehicles: in his case, they have gone from Bush Lite to Bush Zero.
All along it seemed probable the Rethugs were going to nominate a Christer for 2012. Most knew it would not be Palin, but some thought Huckle Buck had an inside track. Probably because of his gastric band surgery that he denied having had, he apparently discovered he didnt have the fire in his belly to run. And now Bachmann has just been, as the Irish say, gazumped. No, the most likely Christer is Perry.
Itll be a Rethug Christer in 2012 not because the partys money boys have lost their grip but because their candidate, Romney, cannot be nominated. Health care alone will kill his chances among the party faithful. Plus he has already maxed out his big donors and so is in bad tactical shape, as well as being strategically deficient for nomination purposes. The big boys have their money on Romney as most likely to beat President Obama but their fallback position, once he inevitably goes down, is Perry and not Bachmann.
This is 1964 again, the year the little envelope-lickers took over the Republican Party from the big check-writers. The Christers are the envelope-lickers, having been betrayed into Republicanism by skillful use of social shouting that smokescreens millionaire economic policies. The racists and the little old ladies in tennis shoes are taking their party back to the 19th century. Again. Nothing says throwback like a Christer nominee.
And Michie stands bewildered on the hillside of history, wondering where it all went wrong. She had it all. Along with massive economic ignorance, incitement of hatred against Americans of color or insufficiently baroque fundamentalism was going to be her ticket to pulling a Bush Minor or a Palin by being elevated to a position far beyond her means to comprehend, much less sustain.
And instead, along comes this fellow who is just a bit crazier than she is, a secessionist and a Tenther who hates the entire American government that is not in the hands of his cronies or does not bear weapons. Bachmann would defend the Confederate Constitution over the American one any day; but Perry loves the Confederacy with the fervor of defiant stupidity. And that extra bit of madness will have proved to be the difference.
James McCarty Yeager is a Houstonian (and product of Catholic education) now living in Washington, D.C.
From The Progressive Populist, September 15, 2011
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