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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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Lately, in explaining her hard-core opposition to abortion, Bachmann has taken to telling the story of the miscarriage of what would have been her third child, saying that that heartbreak solidified her opposition to choice. She doesn't stop to consider the role of intention in the quality of the heartbreak, or to claim for a pregnant woman the agency to proclaim whether or not her fetus is intended to become her child. With her veneration of her hagiographic vision of the founding fathers, lack of compassion for women in situations not like hers, and her rejection of non-heterosexual orientation as a natural and dignified condition, Bachmann is a female patriarchist, the quintessential mother-figure for an evangelical audience. Trim and attractive, strong but self-deprecating, able to riff a prayer in any setting, she emanates the feminine perfectionism demanded of women in the evangelical setting.

At a women's panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., last February, Bachmann spoke of having grown up as a child of divorced parents, and how she was determined not to have to live a life like that of her mother's. It had the ring of honesty -- you could almost feel the force of will with which she built her perfect, morally upright life -- as an attorney trained at the evangelical Oral Roberts University, and as a mother to many.

So when Bachmann's husband, Marcus Bachmann, was found this week by ThinkProgress to have called gay people "barbarians" in need of "discipline," her evangelical street cred only went up. (Dr. Marcus Bachmann is believed to be a practitioner of "gay reparative therapies.")

In Iowa and South Carolina, the right wing organizes turnout in the caucuses and primaries through a network of evangelical churches that have been active in politics since the 1980s and '90s, organized by Ralph Reed when he served as executive director of the Christian Coalition. The Defense of Marriage Act was born of this network during the 1996 Iowa caucuses when, at a megachurch in Des Moines, the Republican candidates all assembled on a wickedly cold February night -- the night before the caucus votes -- to sign a pledge to never recognize any marriages of LGBT people at the federal level. Today, Reed is organizing on the ground in Iowa with his Faith and Freedom Coalition, a melding of the religious right infrastructure with the Tea Party movement. Bachmann would appear to be a perfect candidate.

The Running Mate From Kochistan?

But Bachmann's fuel comes not simply from the fire of the Holy Spirit, but also through energy of a more earthly kind -- the support of the astroturf organization founded by petroleum magnate David Koch, Americans for Prosperity and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. Long before she dreamed of being president, Bachmann was a frequent speaker at Americans for Prosperity Foundation events; in Congress Bachmann takes the right flank to Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, another Americans for Prosperity favorite.

When Bachmann delivered her famously "rogue" response to the president's State of the Union address last January, she didn't annoy House Republican leaders simply by creating competition to their message; they had already chosen a Koch favorite in Paul Ryan to issue the official response, likely the result of pressure from Koch-affiliated interests. Bachmann's off-the-reservation, internet-video response seemed to be a message from the Koch constituency that they would not be easily appeased.

In the the GOP race as constituted so far, the Koch wing of the GOP again has two players -- Bachmann, who could win Iowa and maybe South Carolina, and Herman Cain, whose message seems targeted for New Hampshire. Often, when a candidate decides to leave the national primary race, he will pledge the delegates he's acquired so far to another candidate. If Bachmann stays alive past South Carolina, she'd be the likely recipient of Herman Cain's delegates once he decides to leave the stage.

 
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