Count me as unimpressed. That is, unimpressed with one of the top-tier Republican Presidential candidates, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Ms. Bachmann maybe a smart politician and a down-the-line conservative, but she comes across (at least to this observer) as somewhat of a flake. You never know what might come out of her mouth. And that, in Presidential politics, is a huge problem.
While she maybe the darling of the Tea Party, the best way to ensure that Barack Obama is re-elected to a second term would be to have Michele Bachmann on the Republican ticket. If she were leading the ticket, President Obama wins in a landslide. Ms. Bachmann is such a polarizing figure that I do not see how she can pull off an electoral victory against a sitting President, no matter how bad his approval ratings might be at the moment. And, there is much time between now and November 2012. Anything can happen to change the dynamics of the race.
Also between now and the Fall of 2012, Michele Bachmann will have countless opportunities to speak. When she does speak, some of what she says will be sensible. But, then again, some of what she says, such as her promise to bring gas prices below $2 a gallon, will be rightly seen as nutty. Finally, you will have some statements by Congresswoman Bachmann that fall somewhere in between the two extremes.
Such is the case with her comments on Hurricane Irene and God’s attempt to get the attention of politicians. Someone emailed me a link to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s comments. Many news outlets have reported that Ms. Bachmann talked about the recent hurricane and earthquake as “messages from God” or, more ominously, as “God’s judgment” upon America. While preachers are known for saying such things (which we cannot know), politicians generally avoid such statements that can be so easily misinterpreted.
As it turns out, Congresswoman Bachmann’s words were misinterpreted and distorted. Here is what she really said about the recent natural disasters that have hit our nation:
“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”
As pronouncement of God’s judgment kind of statements are concerned, this one is relatively innocuous. She did not say that God was behind these recent events. The Congresswoman did not talk about God’s judgment upon America (usually Pat Robertson or John Hagee are good for that). Instead, she simply wondered how much it would take for God to get the attention of politicians. Fairly tame stuff, if you ask me.
However, what bothers me more than the first part of her statement is the last part. It appears that she merely uses God and His attempts to get politicians to listen to Him through natural disasters as a nice launching pad for talking about politicians listening to the American people. If one were to truly stop and analyze what Ms. Bachmann was saying, she seems more concerned not about politicians listening to God, but rather that the politicians listen to the American people. There is a tremendous disconnect in this whole statement. To give her the benefit of the doubt, Congresswoman Bachmann probably did not even realize what she was saying and the implications of her statement.
That’s what’s so frustrating about politicians, especially those who are running for high office. When it suits their purposes, candidates will play the “God card.” They know that certain groups will respond favorably to a message when God language is interspersed throughout the speech. As the campaign season gets underway, watch out for those who would use God as a prop. Candidates are certainly free to use God in such a crass way, but He may get their attention as well. And, it may not be through a hurricane or earthquake.