Saturday, June 25, 2011

Clown Car Contestants

Taibbi has some pretty good smackdown on the rising political star of Mary Tyler Moron. Aside from having a gerrymandered district consisting of rich white assholes, Bachmann's success up to this point is essentially summed up here:

Bachmann claimed that back in her college days, she was up one night praying with a female friend of hers when "the Lord gave each one of us the same, exact vision... It was a picture of me, marrying this man, in the valley where his parents have a farm in western Wisconsin." Meanwhile, miles away, Marcus "was repairing a fence on the farm where he worked, and the Lord showed him in a vision that he was supposed to marry me." According to Bachmann, Marcus initially complained to God that he wanted to see the world first, and only later relented.

Snickering readers in New York or Los Angeles might be tempted by all of this to conclude that Bachmann is uniquely crazy. But in fact, such tales by Bachmann work precisely because there are a great many people in America just like Bachmann, people who believe that God tells them what condiments to put on their hamburgers, who can't tell the difference between Soviet Communism and a Stafford loan, but can certainly tell the difference between being mocked and being taken seriously. When you laugh at Michele Bachmann for going on MSNBC and blurting out that the moon is made of red communist cheese, these people don't learn that she is wrong. What they learn is that you're a dick, that they hate you more than ever, and that they're even more determined now to support anyone who promises not to laugh at their own visions and fantasies.

Bachmann is the champion of those tens of millions of Americans who have read and enjoyed the Left Behind books, the apocalyptic works of Christian fiction that posit an elaborate fantasy in which all the true believers are whisked off to heaven with a puff of smoke at the outset of Armageddon. Here on Earth, meanwhile, the guilty are bent to the will of a marauding Satan who appears at first in the guise of a smooth-talking, handsome, educated, pro-government, superficially pacifist, internationalist politician named Nicolae Carpathia — basically, Barack Obama. Bachmann has ties to the Left Behind crowd and has even said that Beverly LaHaye, wife of LB co-author and fundamentalist godfather Tim LaHaye, was her inspiration for entering politics.

Ah, yes, the "those people hate you because you're smug and they know you're laughing at them" gambit. Well you know what? Fuck them. Fuck 'em all right in the goddamned neck. I'm not even going to bother with (justifiably) ridiculing the sort of oaf that feels compelled to profess divine intervention for every mundane activity and decision; there is nothing particularly wrong with belief per se, but those sorts of chuckleheads are either delusional or cynical in their faith.

But it is the implicit and explicit assumption that everyone else needs to get on their page, that they have the right to indoctrinate everyone's children with their special faith, that they are intrinsically more moral than us heathens Because They Believe. How is that not smug, how is that any better than the people who laugh at them because they are tethered to superstition and magical thinking (as opposed to religious belief being one mode of introspection and genuine reflection)?

Bachmann gets lumped in with Palin generally, but that is not an entirely honest comparison. Palin is clearly just out to soak the suckers with this ongoing cock-tease; she has yet to display an iota of aptitude or even basic desire for the job, much less for the rigors of campaigning for said job. I seriously would not be surprised if Palin's ultimate goal were to host an afternoon Oprah-type talk show (or perhaps an inverted View setup, with a bunch of like-minded troglodytes and one token librul to bash on in between circle-jerking whatever hapless celebrity is on to pimp their latest box-office load).

Not that Bachmann is the real deal, mind you; again, her incessant god-bothering jabber is either delusional (if real) or just pathetically empty (if put-on), and either way, her actual track record in the House appears to be one of grandstanding more than actually doing anything. Her chances for winning the nomination are slimmer some people seem to be thinking for now, because she is at least as intensely polarizing as Palin.

Personally, I would put money on Huntsman eventually getting the GOP nod. That he worked for Obama is a cardinal sin easily inverted -- once he figures out how to turn that into a "Hey, I tried to work with these guys" sound bite, he will start to pull disaffected independents, which is what any contender is going to need. If he can get half a rhythm going, there is simply no viable competition in that party.

The one clip of the recent "debate" I did catch spoke volumes -- Pawlenty trying to assert himself with his "Obamneycare" care guff on the Sunday circuit, but when confronted with it at the debate, with Romney just skull-fucking him the whole time, Pawlenty punts, taking care not to look aat Romney the entire time. That sort of gutlessness does not work well in a party of, to be generous, fanatical adherents. These guys have just spent the last three years doing everything they can to be an impediment to Obama, they are expecting "balls to the wall or not at all" at this point.

But for someone like Bachmann to be viable, as with Palin, there have to be enough moneyed donors to get her in the game. And that really is difficult to conceive -- they don't give that kind of money to people unless they know they can control them, and a culty midwesterner does not seem like a smart investment.

Either way, hell -- remember when we used to sit in amazement that a mouth-breather like George W. Bush could get in? Good times.


Tehanu said...

But it is the implicit and explicit assumption that everyone else needs to get on their page, that they have the right to indoctrinate everyone's children with their special faith, that they are intrinsically more moral than us heathens Because They Believe. How is that not smug...?

Hear, hear! I would add that the whole Left Behind thing -- as so beautifully deconstructed by Fred Clark over at Slacktivist -- is all about smugness on the most "neener neener" level possible. How is it not smug to announce to all and sundry that you and you alone are in good with God, and everybody who sees things different from you is damned? (And I am so stealing "Mary Tyler Moron")!

daver said...

"Personally, I would put money on Huntsman eventually getting the GOP nod...."

If you're serious, you can do precisely that here:

...and get 12 to 1 currently for your money (!) Actually not a bad deal at all. Very likely you can at least sell after a bit at a higher price than the 7.8 (%) you bought it for. (I might even consider doing it myself.)

Romney's not such a deal, at 35%, way out in front....

daver said...

Intrade is a good way to get the betting line on the Goat Rodeo or other current events, even if you're not a gambler (er, I mean, 'investor'...) Since people are putting their money where their mouth is, it's one of the best estimators known of the 'actual chances'.

On the other hand, Nate Silver gives Huntsman even lower odds (3.2%). He always has quality analysis:

Heywood J. said...


Thanks! Yeah, I loved Fred Clark's decons, just priceless. By all means, spread the MTM thing far and wide.

Heywood J. said...


I might have to check that out and dump $100 on Huntsman. I really do think he stands a good chance, if only because of the ludirous competition.

This is one thing I've been trying to work in my own head for some months, as I simultaneously lampoon some of my fella 'merkins' insistence on supporting these marginal characters, while presuming (hoping) that enough common sense still remains that they can squeak past those baser impulses.

It is something that Joe Bageant, rest his ornery soul, was better at sussing out than I am. For me it still feels a lot like cognitive dissonance.