Tea Party and the Right  
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Yes, She's Serious: While You're Laughing, Michele Bachmann Is Gearing Up To Fight

There's no such thing as bad publicity for the GOP's most unpredictable candidate.
 
 
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Michele Bachmann, the Republican presidential candidate, is having a very good week. What's that, you say?

You mean even after she mistook serial killer John Wayne Gacy for right-wing culture hero John Wayne?

Even after her laughable attempt to claim a 9-year-old John Quincy Adams as one of the founding fathers, in a vain effort to justify her earlier claim that that august patriarchal body "worked tirelessly to end slavery"?

Even after her supporters apparently tried to edit Wikipedia's entry on JQA to support her claim?

You mean even -- even -- after ThinkProgress revealed that her husband had declared, on a radio broadcast, that gay people are "barbarians" who need "to be disciplined"? 

Yes indeed. With all eyes upon her, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., chair of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives, had an excellent week. Because she doesn't care what you think. She doesn't need you. And that's why you must take her seriously.

In our bizarre presidential primary system, it's the early states that really matter -- states whose populations do not mirror the diversity of the nation at large. Eager for a story, the national media begins to assemble on the ground the better part of a year ahead these early contests, which consequently serve as the nation's introduction to the candidates. And it just so happens that the three most important early states have populations that, among those who vote in a Republican primary, skew far to the right on the GOP stage. So Bachmann will enjoy an advantage -- at least in Iowa and South Carolina, if not New Hampshire -- among the battalions of evangelical Christians who will vote in those primaries. In addition to her religious cred, Bachmann's got the hearts of Tea Party enthusiasts, whose movement has significant overlap with the religious right.

Many are the progressives and liberals, all too inclined to look to the next election as the means of political salvation, who may actually cheer the ascendance of Bachmann as an obvious display of the crazy that underlies today's Republican Party, thinking that reasonable people will never vote for her in a general election. And they may be right in that assumption. But each time a politician as far to the right as Bachmann is accrues power in the GOP, the worse it is for all of us. The long-term process, you see, pushes the party ever further to the right, but sooner or later, voters tire of the Democrats and vote in the Republicans in an anybody-but-you-guys tantrum. And if, at that time, the GOP is ruled by the David Koch wing of the party, we're all pretty well screwed.

The Victim Card

One of the things right-wing leaders have done so brilliantly is to convince their constituents that the mainstream media are hopelessly biased in favor of liberals and liberal policies -- so much so, that virtually nothing reported by mainstream outlets is believed to be reported as simple matters of fact. Whether it's the science of climate change or the gaffes of Michele Bachmann, right-wingers reject every iota of the mainstream media narrative, turning their gaze and their ears instead to the spin of the right-wing media machine. It's a perfectly closed system, impenetrable by any who dwell outside the tribe.

Each mainstream media report of Bachmann's mangled version of history, and every question she gets from a journalist, such as [PDF] CBS News' Bob Schieffer (who is hardly a liberal, by the way), about her revisions to the nation's story, are regarded as attacks born of bias. Add in the long history of sexist treatment of women candidates (which is likely to continue for the foreseeable future), and Bachmann's defenders can earnestly exclaim to her base that she is treated differently from her fellow candidates, all men, by the sexists of the allegedly liberal mainstream media. And Bachmann will, no doubt, be subjected to sexist punditry at some point during the race -- and it will likely play to her favor. 

 
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