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Michele Bachmann vs. Rick Perry: Who's the Bigger Right-Wing Extremist?

Who really deserves a reputation as too much of a right-wing extremist for the Beltway media to take seriously?

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Wingnut points:  Bachmann gets two for potshots against regulatory agencies and hypocritical but gradual assault on entitlement programs. Perry gets five for denouncing the legitimacy of any federal power, idealizing anarchy, insinuating that Obama invented the concept of  federal regulation, and wanting not just to kill Medicare and Social Security, but also to start starving seniors right now.  

Lightbulbs. Paranoia about lightbulbs is the 21st century analog of the 1960s belief that fluoridated drinking water was a mind-control conspiracy, i.e. the calling card of a true right-wing believer.  In 2007, the federal government  passed efficiency regulations for lightbulbs that created an explosion in more efficient alternatives to traditional incandescent lightbulbs. Paranoid right-wingers chose to interpret this as a “ban” on incandescents, and suddenly every hard-right-winger in the land was required to pretend there’s an inverse relationship between the quality of a light and its efficiency. Both Perry and Bachmann carry on like the federal government is about to ban indoor lighting altogether. Bachmann gets points for hyperbole,  attempting to argue that Thomas Edison  would somehow oppose his invention becoming more energy-efficient. Perry  signed a law  exempting lightbulbs both made and sold in the state (does that market exist?) from federal law, which is quite likely unconstitutional.  

Wingnut points:  Two for Bachmann for silliness and paranoia, but four to Perry for silliness, paranoia, pretending that a bill Bush signed was signed by Obama, and passing legislation that panders to radical right anti-federalism. 

History. Bachmann racked up a number of headlines with her confidence in making verifiably  false claims about history.  She’s shrugged off most of these claims as gaffes, even though her overall understanding of American history conflicts strongly with the realities. Rick Perry has a similarly poor understanding of history, but in addition to believing soothing lies,  Perry appointed members to the Texas School Board  who demanded textbooks erase mentions of the separation of church and state, and instead imply  that our Founders actually wanted  a theocracy.   

Wingnut points:  One to Bachmann for being wrong, two to Perry for trying to bamboozle schoolchildren.     

The Confederacy. Hard-right-wingers idealize the Confederacy, downplay slavery, and insist that the men in gray had a right to secede from the Union. Perry enjoys stoking Confederate apologists by repeatedly  suggesting that Texas could secede , though this time to get away from the black president instead of to defend the right to own black people. Bachmann, being from a non-Confederate state, panders differently, by  signing off on the belief  that slavery was beneficial for black people, on the specious grounds that slavery socialized them into the Christian nuclear family. 

Wingnut points:  One per. Different takes, but same result: pandering to Confederate fantasies of the hard right.   

Sex. Both Perry and Bachmann are anti-choice and anti-gay, which are bare minimum requirements to be Republicans. To stand out from the crowd, Bachmann aggressively hates on human sexuality, calling gynecology offices  "sex clinics,"  and describing routine reproductive health care in tones that are more appropriate to describing heroin distribution rings in elementary schools. (One wonders how she survived one of those “sex clinic” doctors delivering her five children.) Perry, on the other hand, notoriously let common sense prevail in his role as governor, mandating that girls entering the 6th grade had to have the HPV vaccine, saving them from a future of cervical biopsies, genital warts, and even cervical cancer. However, pressure from right-wingers who believe death from cancer is a fair punishment for women who have sex  caused Perry to walk it back.  

Wingnut points:  Three to Bachmann for being anti-sex, making it a priority, and treating gynecology like it’s a criminal perversion. Two to Perry for being anti-choice and caving to extremists who support cancer as an appropriate consequence for having sex.   

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