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A Memo to Micele Bachmann

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To: Rep. Michelle Bachmann

From: Kurt Stone

Re: You, your presidential aspirations and your view of America's future

   It seems that I have been putting off writing you this memo for nearly the past six months.  "Why the delay?" you well may ask.  A couple of reasons:

  • First, I wanted to get to know you, your politics and your worldview better; more than might be gleaned from merely reading your entry in The Almanac of American Politics.
  • Second, there was the obvious need to get a better handle on whether you are canny or coy, credible or crazy, serious or just plain certifiable.  
  • Third, I needed to figure out what tone this memo should take; Angry?  Flippant?  Condescending?  Worried?  Scared? Pedantic? 

   I think a combination of all six "tones" or approaches is required.

    Let me state at the outset that while I believe you have precisely two chances of becoming the Republican nominee in 2012 -- absolutely none and less than that -- I still take your candidacy quite seriously. Why? Because by pulling the Republican primary process to the far-far right, you have guaranteed yourself both "a voice and a place at the table" at your party's national convention.  Regardless of which centrist becomes the GOP's standard bearer, he will be saddled with a platform that reads more like a missing chapter from the Book of Revelations than a serious political document.  Oh sure, there are lots of Dems and progressives who are champing at the bit for you to become the Republican nominee.  They believe your candidacy would not only guarantee the reelection of Barack Obama; they predict that it would also permit progressives to recapture the House and increase the Democratic majority in the Senate. While this may be true -- and as one who is already working for the reelection of Barack Obama despite whatever disagreements or disappointments I may have -- a Bachmann nomination would still be a disaster for the United States.

   The question is "why?"

   Let's face it Ms. Bachmann: over the past 30+ years, America has become an increasingly divided nation.  Our bifurcation exists on many levels -- economic, cultural, educational and perhaps even intellectual. The gulf between the spectacularly rich and the rest of America is as wide as it's ever been. Our views on the role of government have become case-hardened: many believe that government has an important role to play in the lives of the people; many -- perhaps even more fervently -- believe that government is the source -- and not the solution -- of (or to) our problems. At the same time, there is a distinct line between the America that perceives reality in gradations of grey and the America that posits moral certainty.  A large segment of the American public condemns and characterizes those with whom they disagree as Socialists, immoral sensualists, or even worse -- as conscious agents of some apocalyptic "New World Order."   Tens of millions of Americans have had their world view shaped by the Left Behind series; apocalyptic works of Christian fiction that posit an elaborate fantasy in which all the "true believers" are whisked off to heaven at the outset of Armageddon while "the rest of us" are guilty of being in thrall to a marauding, smooth-talking, handsome, educated, pro-government Satan.  And there are even greater numbers who have never heard of -- let alone read -- these books.

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   Your political career, Ms. Bachmann, has largely been shaped by this apocalyptic vision.  Your moral certainty is so pronounced, so robust, that I fear you are incapable of seeing any human worth in those who don't, won't or can't share your vision.  Your church, Ms. Bachmann, is not our government . . .    

   Then too, your propensity for rhetorical bomb-throwing, wrong-headed analysis and what is euphemistically called "misstatement" has become legendary:

    In 2001 you co-wrote a letter for the Minnesota-based Maple River Education Coalition, in which you warned that then-President George W. Bush's education policies were leading the country to Communism: "Government is implementing policies that will lead to poverty, not prosperity, by adopting the failed ideas of a state-planned and managed economy similar to that of the former Soviet Union."  

   In 2003, as a state senator, you explained why you do not agree with the theory of evolution: "Where do we say that a cell became a blade of grass, which became a starfish, which became a cat, which became a donkey, which became a human being?  There's a real lack of evidence from change from actual species to a different type of species. That's where it's difficult to prove."  

  In 2004, with the country engaging in a heated debate over same-sex marriage, you found parallels in the Bible: "We're in a state of crisis where our nation is literally ripping apart at the seams right now, and lawlessness is occurring from one ocean to the other.  And we're seeing the fulfillment of the Book of Judges here in our own time, where every man doing that which is right in his own eyes -- in other words -- anarchy."

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    In 2005, you explained your opposition to Minnesota's minimum wage as a form of job creation: "Literally, if we took away the minimum wage -- if conceivably it was gone -- we couuld potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level."

   In 2007, in an interview with the St. Cloud Times, you "revealed" that Iran was planning on turning all of Northwest Iraq into a secret "terrorist safe-haven zone" called the "Iraq state of Islam."      

   In 2008, while appearing on the MSNBC news show "Hardball," you called for an investigation  into the "anti-American ambitions" of Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats: "What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look.  I wish they would.  I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-American or anti-American."

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Kurt Stone is a rabbi, writer, lecturer, political activist, professor, actor, and medical ethicist. A true "Hollywood brat" (born and raised in the film industry), Kurt was educated at the University of California, the Eagleton Institute of (more...)

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