Commentary Magazine


The Bachmann Backlash Begins

For months, Rep. Michele Bachmann has hovered on the margins of the consciousness of the mainstream media. But after her breakthrough appearance at Monday night’s New Hampshire Republican presidential debate, it was a given that she would start getting the same treatment that was accorded the last religious conservative woman to make it onto the national stage. As Michelle Goldberg’s hit piece in today’s Daily Beast illustrates, the effort to demonize Bachmann is in full swing and she can expect no more mercy from liberals than Sarah Palin got.

The highlight of Goldberg’s piece is undoubtedly her account of what happened when to supporters of gay marriage ambushed her in a rest room after a 2005 town hall meeting when Bachmann was a Minnesota state senator. The two, a lesbian and a nun, claim Bachmann screamed for help when the two buttonholed her in a lady’s room. Apparently we’re supposed to think Bachmann is a screwball for feeling threatened (if indeed, that’s what actually happened) when hostile strangers in a small space cornered her with no one else around.

Goldberg’s biggest problem is, of course, the fact that the religiously conservative Bachmann is a longtime opponent of gay marriage and she makes the most out of the fact that the congresswoman’s gay stepsister broke with her over the issue.

We can also expect to hear a great deal the influence of one of her law professors, John Eidsmoe who appears to something of a theocrat as well as advocating some erroneous and extreme ideas about both slavery and the Civil War.

The fact that she is an evangelical will be enough to incite liberals to blast her as an extremist especially Jewish liberals, who will not be impressed by the fact that Bachmann is not only a strong supporter of Israel but made her first trip there when she was a teenager with a Christian youth group.

While all this can be woven together into a narrative that makes Bachmann look like a nutcase, the problem with such efforts is that unlike Palin, after more than a decade as a legislator, the congresswoman can’t be dismissed as a political flash in the pan or an empty suit. She’s got a long paper trail of her own as well as an impressive education and work resume. As even her foes in Congress and in Minnesota politics have conceded, she’s sharp as a tack and a formidable foe.

Now that she’s had a chance to exhibit her talents on the national stage, her detractors are going to have to do more than mention the fact that she looked into the wrong camera during her response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech and committed a gaffe when she thought the Revolutionary War started in Concord, New Hampshire that than Concord, Massachusetts. Which means that slurs about her religious faith, her political beliefs and the usual snarky stuff that is used against female politicians (her looks, clothes, hair and makeup) will be trotted out. Goldberg’s piece is the first but it won’t be the last of this genre, especially if as now seems likely, her campaign gathers momentum.

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