Michele Bachmann, Politicians & God as a Prop

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.

20 comments for “Michele Bachmann, Politicians & God as a Prop

  1. Bennett Willis
    August 30, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    I have to listen to Ms. Bachmann like I read handwriting that is (basically) illegible. I try hard not to focus on the individual words and letters. If you avoid looking at the detail, you can “read” what was written in many cases.

    Or maybe I would just be hearing what I wanted to hear.

  2. BDW
    August 30, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    You want to see Barack Obama get re-elected, vote for Rick Perry.

    He’s a guy who just a year ago looked like he was going to get taken out in the GOP primary. Had Kay Bailey not run such a bizarre, half-committed campaign, Gov. Good-Hair would be a former Governor right now. The guy is a loose canon. He’ll have some significant missteps along the way and the more the public gets to know Ricky Perry, the less electable he becomes in the General.

    I think there are a number of people that could beat the President. And while Bachmann is a nut, I don’t think Perry is much of a better sell.

    • August 30, 2011 at 1:00 PM

      Aaron,

      I have not written anything on Rick Perry as of yet, but when he announced his candidacy for President, let’s just say I wasn’t overflowing with excitement. There is something just a little off-putting about Perry that I can’t quite describe. Similar to Sarah Palin. Both are just a little off. Bachmann, however, is a lot off! I’m not so sure that just any Republican can beat Obama next year. I wouldn’t overestimate the strength of the Republican field and I wouldn’t underestimate (or as another Texan might say “misunderestimate”) the strength of Obama. But, if it’s a Perry and Bachmann ticket, regardless of who is first, then I don’t see how Obama doesn’t cruise to a second term. Hope all is well with you in Waco. Have a great week and God bless,

      Howell

  3. Christiane
    August 30, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    Thank you, Howell and BDW
    for your words here.
    You have helped to restore my faith in the presence of the holy gift of discernment among Christian people who are living in a season of great difficulty in our country.

    I know we have so much division now, but I have hated to see some politicians attempt to ‘play the God card’ as a way to get votes.
    I hope more people have the courage to speak up.

  4. August 30, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Couple thoughts. Out of the gate I like Christiane’s use of the word discernment. It is the operative word Notre Dame’s Mark Noll uses in the conclusion of his lengthy review in June 6 print issue of New Republic, review of two recent highly lauded with a few caveats books on the religious right.
    To cut it short, serious students of the swamp that awaits America if Perry and Bachmann go much further will explore the several links Ihave posted in SBC Trends and Public Policy forums of baptistlife.com
    Lot has been written recently from religion dispatches to NPR’s Fresh Air on the near wicked entanglements of Perry and Bachmann to Apostolic Dominionism and the way SBC’s Richard Land sneaks in thediscussion through Wildmon’s Family Association of Mississippi.

    And their morphous connections to SBC’s Frank Page through Jim Demint in Upstate S.C. are of concern as well.
    I hope to see Howell Scott and William Thornton and their kind in the SBC mount a crusade to line item veto Richard Land from Cooperative Program support.
    that is a realpolitik good place to start.

    • Bennett Willis
      August 30, 2011 at 4:55 PM

      I’ve been to a large number of conferences and meetings with the Apostolic Dominionism people. While I think they emphasize the wrong things, I have never seen any of the things that NPR talked around. I listened to the lady’s tone of voice on the Fresh Air program and kept waiting for some clear action or event to support her “air of conspiracy” and never found it.

      But I’ve been in Texas for all of Perry’s tenure and have no use for him at all.

      • August 30, 2011 at 6:27 PM

        Bennett,

        As I shared with Stephen, I am not overly familiar with Christian Dominionism’s influence on the Republican Presidential candidates. Even though there maybe areas where I would strongly disagree with dominion theology, I’m not sure that NPR would be the ones to rely on for the most accurate representation of what dominionism is all about. As to Perry, I am not sold. Doesn’t mean I won’t be, but I am very skeptical of him at the moment. Thanks and God bless,

        Howell

        • Christiane
          August 30, 2011 at 9:13 PM

          Howell,

          take Perry at his own word: read his book ‘Fed Up’

  5. Shane Morgan
    August 30, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    Howell, I agree with your assessment of Rick Perry. I liked Michele Bachman when I first heard her at during the Republican debate. But she didn’t dazzle me. And when Rick Perry entered the race and everybody said how excited they were about it, I was looking forward to hearing what he had to say. But I gotta say, I was sorely disappointed! He came across as just as much of a bumbling thinker as G.W. And his inflamitory comments are completely out of place in a presidential race. I found him off-putting and completly un-presidential. And I believe Obama would probably beat him just as easily as he would beat Michele Bachman. I’m just waiting for someone to appear on the scene who is, as you said in a previous post, both “conservative and reasonable,” or better yet, conservative and ELECTABLE! Mit Romney continues to lead the race last time I heard. But he looks like a liberal in conservative clothing in my opinion. I suppose he’d be better than Obama though. Two of the guys I liked, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum (although he seems a bit radical and unexperienced), were almost immediately left in the dust! So, I don’t know which way to turn. But I know that to cast a vote for Michele Bachman in 2012 will be essentially casting a vote for Obama. God help us!!!!

    • August 30, 2011 at 6:17 PM

      Shane,

      I agree about Perry being off-putting. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something about the Texas governor that makes me uncomfortable. Thus far, I do not see anyone who I am enthused about on the Republican side. And, while Sarah Palin getting into the race might shake things up, I’m not sure that she would have a better chance of beating Obama. I do like Santorum, but he and Cain do not have a chance. Don’t get me started on Ron Paul, either. Romney, who may have the broadest appeal at this point, is not someone I can get behind. I would vote for him or any of the other Republicans, but I still think it will be harder to unseat a sitting President than people seem to realize. Hope you have a great week and God bless,

      Howell

  6. August 30, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    As an example the following quote desperately needs to be read in context, something I hope Aaron Weave and Scott will do very soon and Weaver explore with his dissertation friends at Baylor.
    From an August 29 RD.org piece by Posner and Butler on Dominionism Alarms and Denial:

    That’s too narrow, and I think has (1) opened a door for the dominionism deniers, and (2) caused people to overlook some of the real-world creations of dominionism. The religious right has, in so many ways, succeeded in creating institutions meant to supplant “secular” ones. One of the founders of Oral Roberts University law school (where Michele Bachmann earned her law degree) called this his “dominion mandate.” Look at Regent University, where Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell earned his graduate degrees, or Liberty University Law School, where students are taught to engage in “civil disobedience” when a court order conflicts, in their view, with “biblical law,” or the Alliance Defense Fund, a law firm created to take on cases that would result in overturning of Supreme Court jurisprudence on separation of church and state. That’s the sort of thing dominionism has actually accomplished, in the legal field alone.

    End quote.
    I particularly like her spotlighting the Alliance Defense Fund, something that has concerned me for some time. SBC Peace Committee member and former Prez of the Mississippi SBC state convention, Bush 43 Judicial nominee Charles Pickering is a driving force with the Alliance Defense Fund, confusing many SBC churches who ought to know better about the pristine work of the Baptist Joint Committee.
    A Fog machine is what Lee Atwater would call it, and Jesse Helms must delight from the grave as Pressler still does here on earth.

    • August 30, 2011 at 6:24 PM

      Stephen,

      I’ve not studied all the relationships between the various candidates and some of the religious organizations, particularly those who are identified with Christian Dominionism. I read something the other day (can’t remember now) about the influence of dominion theology within Evangelical Christianity. It was written from a conservative viewpoint, but it did not view dominion theology as a positive contribution. I used to have the Rushdoony’s Institute of Biblical Law, but I think I parted with it some time ago. I have become very skeptical of dominion theology and those who espouse it. I’ll have to do more research and write a future post on the influence of dominion theology on the various Republican Presidential candidates. Thanks for stopping by. God bless,

      Howell

  7. Christiane
    August 30, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    Secrecy is much desired by ‘dominionist’ groups and their many theocratic associates.

    So don’t look for them to shout out about their power . . . it was taught by Doug Coe of “The Family” that the more you can make your organization invisible, the more influence it will have.

    CNN recently got the term ‘Dominionism’ out there for public viewing (Wolf Blitzer and Jack Cafferty had not heard of it before the Presidential candidacies of the two individuals whose names we need not mention.)

  8. K Gray
    August 31, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    Well it is delightful to hear the progressive Christians unite in the meme that “Bachmann is a nut” and Perry is not much better. And why? This time it is because she connects God to phenomena which are officially beyond human control, which are called “Acts of God” by business and government, which people pray to God for safety from, which the Bible — and probably a majority of Christians, albeit not the pristine BJC — attribute solely to God.

    And beware who you read. Currently media including CBS are circulating a doctored video in which Bachmann, speaking at a rain-soaked Christian music festival, says to the crowd that “God loves wet people” — but the doctored version prints over it “God loves white people.” The video was stolen from a blogger who was at the event, then doctored by someone who claims to have been mad at Bachmann for her views on marriage. That person has apologized and pulled the video, but not before Perez Hilton, CBS and others posted it without question, not even contacting the Bachmann campaign to ask if she said that.

    But even CNN and MSNBC concluded that Bachmann was not making a serious policy or belief statement about Hurricane Irene and the earthquake, as her campaign manager confirmed.

    So read widely and diversely.

    Michelle Bachman has an LLM in tax from William & Mary, has been a tax attorney, Congresswoman, mother to 21 foster children and her own children, and with her husband started a business.

    She hasn’t said anything more remarkably unlikely than many things that President Obama has said or promised (e.g. unemployment, recovery, shovel-ready jobs, keeping one’s doctor and healthcare plan, closing Guantanamo, green jobs), particularly as a presidential candidate. He made these representations despite, or without taking into account, much on-the-ground reality. Is he a nut?

    Double standard.

    Watch for the ‘nutty Christian’ meme to continue against Bachmann and Perry. Like BDW, I am in Texas. BDW’s view in his Democratic district is that Perry is unpopular. He’s never lost an election here, even against such well-known figures as Jim Hightower and Houston mayor Bill White. Let’s watch the polls as time goes on and see whether Perry’s brand sells elsewhere.

    I agree that it is harder to unseat a sitting President than most think. Although his poll numbers are down, Pres. Obama’s personal likability numbers are still good and many of his core constituencies are straight ticket voters.

    • August 31, 2011 at 12:26 PM

      Karen,

      I do think that the media over-reacted to the Bachmann/Hurricane Irene comments, but that is to be expected. There is no question that there is a media double standard for conservative politicians. And, while Congresswoman Bachmann might have an accomplished record, that does not mean that everyone will identify equally well with her, even if that person’s politics might be similar. She comes across — at least to me — as somewhat of a flake. That may not be the reality, but that is the impression. Part of that maybe her strong identification with the Tea Party movement. As to Perry, I am not sold. What she said about the recent hurricane and earthquake was relatively mild. However, promising gas prices will come down below $2 under a Bachmann Administration might strike some as a little nutty. Just because Candidate and President Obama has made even more nutty statements doesn’t negate the nuttiness of Bachmann’s statements. Quite frankly, there are no Republican Presidential candidates that enthuse me at the moment. That’s not to say that I won’t vote for whoever the Republican nominee is next November (I will), but my enthusiasm level, unless things drastically change, will be about what it was for McCain in 2008 and Bob Dole in 1996. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. God bless,

      Howell

  9. K Gray
    August 31, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    Sorry, I am just tired of the casual Christian-on-Christian mockery. We are no different than the world.

  10. Lydia
    September 1, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    Howell, You are forgetting the 1st principle of elections: It is the economy, stupid.

    We can take the flakiest of the line up and compare them to Obama whether it is life experience or voting record and come out better. When we continue to compare any of them to the upstart senator who was in office a short time whose only experience is as a community organizer (and what that entails) and threw his spiritual mentor under the bus (Jeremiah Wright) but we all know listened to Liberation theology for 20 years….. then we have a winner.

    Obama is even losing his base! But, I am just stunned that anyone would imply that there is spiritual discernment in voting for Obama. Isn’t that what was implied here if we take that to it’s logical conclusion?

    If we are honest, we are always voting for what we think is the lesser of two evils. I held my nose and voted for McCain. I will do it again to vote for Perry, Bauchman or Romney. All three of which are leagues better than Obama, who is totally incompetent.

    It is the con

    • September 1, 2011 at 9:07 AM

      Lydia,

      I agree that whoever the Republican candidate, I will vote for them (even if I do have to hold my nose so to speak). I think any candidate, even Ron Paul (and that’s saying a lot) would be preferable to the current President. I do think the economy will play a large part in the election, but there is still plenty of time between now and November 2012 for the economy to “turn around.” With is huge campaign warchest, I don’t think that Republicans can be complacent and think that just any Republican nominee will beat Obama. It would be a mistake to underestimate him, even if he is unpopular at the moment. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Have a great day and God bless,

      Howell

  11. K Gray
    September 7, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    I laughed out loud at an NPR story this morning on Perry and Bachmann. It centered on Bachmann’s hurricane joke (with audio in which audience laughed at it, as she did)and Perry saying evolution is a theory “with some gaps in it” and that “scientists are coming forward questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate change.”

    Dramatic pause, followed by reporter Andrea Seabrook intoning her ominous conclusion (remember this is reporting, not an editorial(:

    “But the message is clear — Bachmann believes SOMETHING other than biological and physical processes drives events on planet earth. Perry does too.” [Because he referenced “gaps” and as the fact that not all scientists agree that humans are the main cause of global climate change).

    Uh oh, anti-science religious nut alert! Ms. Seabrook helpfully notes that not ALL Republicans are anti-science: Jon Huntsman tweeted that he believes in evolution, “call me crazy.”

    NPR is hot on this narrative. Follow the adjectives.

  12. CT
    October 14, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    Politicians throw everything around because they have enough money to do so. Moreover, they have a semblance of immunity when it comes to badmouthing other politicians, including the President. If it were anyone else, say, a middle class worker with a wife and family to support, he would be castrated, thrown into jail BY THE POLITICIANS. The “God card,” the”Race card,” the “Gender card” can all be thrown onto the table in an argument to vouch the reasoning for electing someone. But it doesn’t matter. This is a country based on FREEDOM. Our government is nothing but an oversized high school, electing people based solely on good things they say that people want to hear. Plus, look at Obama. He said he would make a change in the economy. He didn’t specify whether it was going to be a positive or negative change, but he still KEPT HIS PROMISE. That’s a first for almost any President. Don’t vote based on what you hear. Only actions speak louder than words.

Leave a Reply