When liberals complain about religion entering the political sphere, they forget where it all started. Democrat Jimmy Carter, a “born again” Christian, courted the evangelicals relentlessly. He would march on stage as a band played a Baptist hymn, as though he were Jesus incarnate. As he was doing this, he got his friend, Burt Lance, to get his bank to lend his campaign millions of dollars, giving him a leg up on the competition. The authorities forced Lance out of banking for life, but Carter became president.
Not to be outdone, Ronald Reagan, never particularly religious, was seen praying on the campaign trail, his eyes closed tight, surrounded by a pack of dumb goyim who thought he meant it. But it was Ralph Reed who became the master of this strategy. A protégé of Pat Robertson, he turned Christian politics into a lucrative business. Years later, it was Karl Rove who organized the Christians into a potent religious force and had Bush blabbing about his conversion. It worked and Bush snuck in.
Now the liberals are in a furor over Michele Bachmann, who manages to wear the mantle of the Christian right, which is in its usual snit over gay marriage, while joining the neo-McCarthyist right in denouncing Obama as an anti-American socialist. She has called for an investigation of those in Congress who are, in her words, “un-American.” Her response to the passage of the gay marriage bill in New York State was to announce that she would support a constitutional amendment banning it. She is also the new darling of the Tea Party, calling for drastic cuts in the budget while keeping the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
What is fascinating about Bachmann is that both she and her husband, a “Christian therapist,” were ardent supporters of Jimmy Carter and worked to get him elected. Carter was first in redefining the role of government, declaring the old days of “big government” over well before Reagan. With his ostentatious conservative Christianity, he created the very ideology now prominent on the right. But when he lost to Reagan, the Bachmanns got the message. Total opportunists, they became right-wing Christian Republicans. Not about to spend her life as a tax lawyer for the IRS, she set her sights on much higher goals. She made her name first in her battles with her local school board, taking extreme right-wing positions.
With her suburban good looks and brilliant white teeth, she has caught the imagination of the Tea Partiers, who see her as a stronger candidate for president that Sarah Palin. Her poll numbers keep climbing, surpassing those of Tim Pawlenty and catching up to those of Mitt Romney. Her supporters don’t care about her gaffs saying that the battles of Lexington and Concord took place in New Hampshire, for example, or that Waterloo, Iowa ,was the birthplace of John Wayne. Just one problem: the only famous John Wayne who ever lived in Waterloo was serial killer John Wayne Gacy. It matters not at all to her devoted followers who are increasing in number every day.
Her big advantage is that she is in the trenches, fighting in Congress for the values of the Tea Party and the Christian right, while remaining on
very good terms with the regular GOP leadership. This makes her unique among the announced Republican candidates. Because of this, there is a push by powerful Republicans for Rick Perry, the photogenic governor or Texas, to enter the race. They see in him the new Reagan, with his craggy, movie star good looks and his genial manner. Never mind that he has run up a gigantic deficit in Texas, a state with the most people without medical insurance. His claim to fame is all the jobs that Texas has created during his three terms as governor, many of which are low paying service industry jobs with no benefits. It won’t matter. If he chooses to run, it will be like the second coming.
Unlike Bachmann, Perry can sweet talk America to go further to the right than ever. But should he win the nomination, his likely choice for vice president will be Michele Bachmann. There’s a winning ticket for you. Everyone at the Nation Magazine will pack up and head for Canada. People on the Upper West Side in New York will be tearing their hair out. You can just imagine the scene in Hollywood. By then, America will be beyond reform. But it’s great news if you are a revolutionary. As Lenin said, “the worse it gets, the better it is.”