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Monday, June 27, 2011

Bachmann's fugue state

In case you haven't read it yet, Matt Taibbi's piece on Michelle Bachmann is fall-off-your-chair funny. Choice bits include:
She's trying to look like June Cleaver, but she actually looks like the T2 skeleton posing for a passport photo.
In modern American politics, being the right kind of ignorant and entertainingly crazy is like having a big right hand in boxing; you've always got a puncher's chance. And Bachmann is exactly the right kind of completely batshit crazy. Not medically crazy, not talking-to-herself-on-the-subway crazy, but grandiose crazy, late-stage Kim Jong-Il crazy — crazy in the sense that she's living completely inside her own mind, frenetically pacing the hallways of a vast sand castle she's built in there, unable to meaningfully communicate with the human beings on the other side of the moat, who are all presumed to be enemies.
Young Michele found Jesus at age 16, not long before she went away to Winona State University and met a doltish, like-minded believer named Marcus Bachmann. After finishing college, the two committed young Christians moved to Oklahoma, where Michele entered one of the most ridiculous learning institutions in the Western Hemisphere, a sort of highway rest area with legal accreditation called the O.W. Coburn School of Law...
This institution became Regent University, which provided a massive number of recruits for Dubya's Justice Department.
Bachmann was mentored by a crackpot Christian extremist professor named John Eidsmoe, a frequent contributor to John Birch Society publications who once opined that he could imagine Jesus carrying an M16 and who spent considerable space in one of his books musing about the feasibility of criminalizing blasphemy.
Bachmann seems so unduly obsessed with Shariah law that, after listening to her frequent pronouncements on the subject, one begins to wonder if her crazed antipathy isn't born of professional jealousy.
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.
That last excerpt summarizes the problem with American politics: Much of our citizenry prefers hallucination to reality.

I think that Bachmann could win the nomination. Nobody really likes Mitt Romney. He doesn't appeal to the Republican base. The good news is that nominating Bachmann could make it easier for Obama to win. The bad news is that nominating Bachmann could make it easier for Obama to win.

No question about it: Obama is the lesser of two evils, although he's still pretty damned evil. Alas, this country seems to want to see an insane libertarian wield supreme power. Maybe we'd be better off if it happened. Maybe the only way to cure the nation of its affection for hallucination and myth is to have a fundamentalist fruitcake like Bachmann preside over a complete economic collapse. I never favored the "we need to hit bottom before we can rebuild" strategy, but what choice do we have?

No matter who wins in 2012, liberals need to tell the world that Barack Obama never tried to enact our core beliefs. This man does not represent us.

By the way -- like most Libertarians, Bachmann doesn't mind sucking the gummint teat.
"No question about it: Obama the lesser of two evils, although he's still pretty damned evil."

And that is a meaningless distinction.

Arthur Silber has been writing about these themes for years.

From the 2008 primary he already called his shot about Obama:

Almost every politician lies, and most politicians lie repeatedly. Yet in one sense, Obama's speech is exceptional, rare and unique -- but not for any of the reasons offered by Obama's uncritical, mindless adulators. It is exceptional for this reason: it is rare that a candidate will announce in such stark, comprehensive terms that he will lie about every fact of moment, about every aspect of our history that affects the crises of today and that has led to them, about everything that might challenge the mythological view of America. But that is what Obama achieved with this speech. It may be a remarkable achievement -- a remarkable and detestable one, and one that promises endless destruction in the future, both here and abroad.

Revisited recently relating to Obama's announcement of troop levels.

As to your recent words about electoral strategy, Arthur has written several essays about those issues as well.

But what if you're wrong about your captors' willingness to change? And again, I ask: If you fight in the manner permitted by those who hold you hostage, how likely do you think it is that your captors will set you free? As I said: they won't.

And we must answer this question: Is our political system capable of being "reformed" or "saved"? I'll turn to that in more detail shortly.

Stay Tuned! Although his archives are full of reading.
Maybe the only way to cure the nation of its affection for hallucination and myth is to have a fundamentalist fruitcake like Bachmann preside over a complete economic collapse.

It'd be a tough lesson, but I suspect it's the only way to get enough people to wake up.

I was talking to a friend about the situation yesterday. He agrees but fears that if things were to get really really crazy some whacked out extremist faction would arise and take over.

I guess that's a risk - rock and hard place!
On whether "we need to hit bottom before we can rebuild" - I've been struggling with that question for a while, and have become more cynical as time goes on - particularly with the abject failure(?) of the Obama administration.

I think the more relevant question is "What are the chances for a course-correction without hitting bottom first?" The Obama presidency reduces the chances through it's betrayal of the principles of liberalism; any hope of a re-invigorated liberalism seems like it must come after (or, possibly, during) failed Republican governance. This is the root cause of my antipathy towards Obama - he had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-assert liberalism's validity and philosophy of government and instead operated like Reagan in disguise.

I don't have a lot of faith in another 4-6 years of an excruciating jobless recovery without another economic/financial crisis rearing it's ugly head. So... the follow-up question in my mind is, "WHEN we hit rock bottom, which would be better - a 'soft landing' or a hard one?"

The soft landing is the last 30 years of class warfare. Soft landings allow time to pervert or deny history and memory (We have always been at war with East Asia; We have never had an income tax bracket higher than 35%)

In retrospect, I think the best thing for America would have been the failure of Lehman Brothers in mid-November 2008, after a McCain victory, followed by an immensely 'hard' economic landing engineered by a lame-duck Bush presidency with implicit/explicit support of the McCain transition team. No tea party! Economic failure at the feet of (unequivocal) Republican leadership! No Democratic fall-guy! We might be where Greece & Spain are today, but their cultures seem more awake & aware than our own when it comes to the economic threats they're facing.
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