June 18, 2011

Michele Bachmann is Not a Moron

Michele Bachmann

I know, I know! That's probably a title you were not expecting. I have repeatedly characterized Michele Bachmann (R-MN) as an idiot. Even though I never meant to imply that she was stupid, I see how what I wrote could have been read this way, and I was wrong. Very wrong. Michele Bachmann is not a moron; she's actually rather smart. Smart enough to be dangerous at least. And yes, I am serious.

Those who know Bachmann well, including her political enemies in Minnesota, have an important message for the rest of us: do not underestimate her. Much of what seems crazy, for lack of a better word, may be anything but. Just because we don't always understand what she says does not mean that she doesn't know what she's saying or that her target audience doesn't find it meaningful.

According to an excellent profile of Bachmann by Michelle Goldberg:

Her ideological radicalism should not be mistaken for stupidity.

After watching the last Republican debate, I will not make this mistake again. Bachmann seems genuinely crazy because we are not part of her Christian extremist clique. What often seems like wild gibberish to us makes perfect sense to them. And above all, she knows what she is doing.

An example of how Bachmann's apparent gibberish is actually quite meaningful was evident in the recent debate. When discussing President Obama's Libya policy, Bachmann said something about us being "the head and not the tail." This was evidently a coded message for her fellow Christian extremists. This wasn't the first time we have seen this sort of thing from Christian extremist candidates, and it certainly won't be the last. Just because we aren't part of their target audience does not mean they lack one.