Minnesota: Bachmann's The One!
The symbolism of Bachmann’s complete rout of the state GOP’s “old guard” in obtaining the Republican nomination is lost on most local media professionals.
Bachmann simply steamrollered her “secular Republican” rivals, including GOP strongman Phil Krinkie. People who “get” Bachmann and understand the significance of her candidacy weren’t surprised by this, but I’ll bet it gave the state’s political press a bit of a jolt.
Whenever they mentioned Bachmann there was something slightly dismissive in their tone. She would get these sort of “parenthetical asides” when she was mentioned in the mainstream legislative reporting. Minnesota’s professional political journalists seemed to see her as an annoying but relatively minor figure at the edge of the Republican power circles—holding up the state budget hostage to her anti-gay marriage bill, making undocumented claims about her political opponents “stalking” and harassing her. A drama queen and a demagogue, perhaps, but never a key GOP player.
Krinkie, on the other hand, was treated as a major power. One of the key Republicans in the State House, he got the big play in the political press. He got the nickname “Dr. No” because he was big and bad enough to kill any compromise taxes; he played the big bad bear on the state budget last year and went to the wall to oppose taxes and spending. Chair of the House Tax Committee and a major player in the state’s GOP policy, Krinkie’s been a favorite topic of the Minnesota “political insider” press for a long time.
But this year, little Miss Nobody from Nowhere, who’s only been in politics for about five years, shoulders Krinkie aside and takes the GOP Congressional nomination away from him as if he doesn’t even exist.
Now an unusual phenomenon like that would make almost any conscious political observer sit up and take notice. How could that happen? The notorious and powerful Krinkie, done in by a relative newcomer--a legislator who’s made practically no legislative contributions, one who’s perceived as lazy and untrustworthy even by her own GOP colleagues. And Krinkie just goes quietly without so much as a peep?
Like I say, anybody who’s awake would sense that there’s more to the story. But the Minnesota media’s “political experts” are especially dense about the significance of Michele Bachmann and her sponsors.
One example of such density: if our political reporters really had a clue, they would not be describing Bachmann as a “social conservative”—they would describe her instead as “Christian fundamentalist politician Michele Bachmann.” Because that is what she is—she is not just another “social conservative”; she is a politicking fundamentalist who is actively promoted by powerful Christian fundamentalist commercial media. These fundamentalists’ agenda is to transform their religious beliefs into our laws.
There is nothing wrong or objectionable about telling readers about this—it’s demonstrable, and it’s the truth. But for whatever reason—unconsciousness, fear of reprisal, secret sympathy for the cause, or sheer density—the major players in Minnesota’s political media won’t identify Bachmann for what she is. Not to their readers, anyway.
Instead, the Associated Press settles for describing her as just another “social conservative.” Describing Bachmann to newspaper readers as a “social conservative” is like describing Hitler to newspaper readers as “a man of the right”—a grotesque and deceptive understatement; an understatement that is unintentionally funny because it inadvertently reveals how ill-informed and naïve the coverage of Bachmann is.
Of course she’s not a Hitler; she doesn’t have the strength of character, for one thing. In and of herself she’s a nothing; a second-rate demagogue and small town hatemonger who’s probably never had an original political idea in her life. In and of herself, she’s just a careerist who goes around telling lies in Jesus’ name.
But Bachmann as a local political phenomenon is very important. She’s the anointed local candidate of a huge, nationally organized political movement that is using Christian religious rhetoric to take political power. If Bachmann succeeds, a bunch of little “Bachmanns in miniature” will spring up and we will be treated to the spectacle of GOP candidates all trying to “out-Jesus” each other.
It’s easy to see where Bachmann phenomenon came from and what it represents; all you have to do is monitor the political messages that go out over the commercial “Christian” evangelical broadcast media every day. The people who coordinate that message (and back Bachmann) are really a stealth party; they are organized and they “stay on the message”, they activate churches to show up at Bachmann’s rallies at the state capitol, they endorse political candidates, they promote and propagandize for their political agenda over the radio and on television—and they have long-term political strategies that extend over years. They have charted and nurtured the political career of Michele Bachmann, and many others.
“Miraculously," though they have done all this and more, they still remain beneath the radar of our most astute professional political journalists. If you read the Associated Press’ news release on Bachmann’s nomination, there is no mention of her Christian fundamentalist sponsors; no mention of all the free air time she receives on Christian fundamentalist radio to promote her career and lead listeners in prayer.
The people who cover politics for us are regularly missing the biggest political story in Minnesota, year after year after year: the story of how the Minnesota GOP was targeted by, infiltrated by and finally succumbed to a nationally organized theocratic political movement. And the story of how this could take place in relatives secrecy, despite constant political reporting by the state’s own “experts on politics."
Ah, well—their intellectual forebears didn’t see what McCarthy was all about until it was too late. Why should our generation of journalistic dimbulbs do any better?