Donald Kaul: Bachmann bows out
It looks as though we jackals of the "lamestream media" won’t have Michele Bachmann to kick around anymore.
With just a hint of Nixonian rancor in her voice, she announced — via a lengthy YouTube rant in the middle of the night a short while ago — she would not seek reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives. More’s the pity.
Bachmann is a master of the political theater of the absurd and a reliable source of mirth who provides a wealth of grist for the media’s ridicule mill. At every opportunity, she shoots off wild statements in every direction — not caring much about their accuracy or where they land.
Who can forget, for example, her assertion on intelligent design?
"There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them Nobel Prize winners, who believe in intelligent design," she said. (Actually, the number of credentialed scientists who believe in intelligent design would fit in a broom closet, and if any of them have a Nobel Prize, I haven’t heard of them.)
She can be mean-spirited, I’ll grant you that. She accused former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, of having close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. (She didn’t). And she used a broad brush when it came to painting opponents un-American. (They weren’t).
She saw fascism in Obama’s health care plan and an apocalypse in vaccinating children against disease.
OK, so maybe all of that isn’t so funny. But how about seeing the Broadway Show "The Lion King" as gay propaganda because, she said, it was written by a gay guy? Or finding "commonality" between the war zone in Iraq and the Mall of America? Or suggesting that Glenn Beck could resolve the national debt snafu if we only "gave him the numbers"?
She became the first card-carrying dingbat to launch a major presidential bid. To me, her greatest and most hilarious accomplishment was being named to the House Intelligence Committee. Who says House Speaker John Boehner doesn’t have a sense of humor?
To paraphrase a humorous, self-deprecating speech made by South Dakota Democrat George McGovern after he’d lost the 1972 election to Richard Nixon: She wanted to run for president in the worst way, and so she did.
Her ill-fated White House campaign should have used the slogan — "Smarter than Rick Perry, prettier than Newt Gingrich." It would have been as close to the truth as anything in that train wreck — which is now under federal and state investigations.
The Republican Party has arrived at a curious moment, when it is possible for someone who doesn’t know anything about anything — science, government, economics (think Sarah Palin) — to be taken seriously as a national leader by the elders of the party.
In Virginia, we’ve just witnessed a Republican primary that nominated a black man, E.W. Jackson, for lieutenant governor. Good for them, you might say. About time, you might say.
Except that Jackson believes that homosexuality is a mental disease — akin to, if not the same as, pedophilia. He says that Planned Parenthood has been more lethal to blacks than the KKK and that President Barack Obama sees the world from a Muslim perspective.
That kind of black man.
All you have to do to win over Republicans these days is to shoot your mouth off in a fashion that impresses the party’s knuckle-dragging ignoramuses. Even worse, to fail to do so can be politically lethal.
I don’t mean to come off as a know-it-all. I make mistakes. As a matter of fact, I made one just the other day.
I wrote that Jeannette Rankin, the pacifist lawmaker who voted against both World Wars in the House of Representatives, was from Missouri. She was not. She was from Montana.
I can explain. I had thought she was from North Dakota, but I looked it up and saw it was Montana. So I went back to my computer and wrote "Missouri."
It could have happened to anyone.
Well, maybe not anyone, but it could have happened to Michele Bachmann, who once mixed up the Iowa birthplaces of actor John Wayne and serial killer John Wayne Gacy. I apologize to Jeannette Rankin fans.
Donald Kaul is an OtherWords columnist who lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.