Friday, August 19, 2011
Something Not Funny About Michele Bachmann
It's easy to laugh about Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Just this week she's been busy promising $2 a gallon gasoline, fretting over the rise of the Soviet Union and wishing the late Elvis Presley a happy birthday on the anniversary of his death. Perhaps it's too easy sometimes: I know I wonder if laughter is the right response, given how inappropriate it is to make fun of those suffering from mental illness, as Ms. Bachmann so clearly is.
But setting aside Ms. Bachmann's ignorance, demogoguery, dishonesty, and overactive imagination for the moment, she's not entirely a laughing matter. It seems unlikely to me that she will end up being the Republican presidential nominee, and perhaps she'll end up nothing more than a convenient foil for more moderate Republicans seeking leverage in the campaign to unseat Obama. But it turns out that it's not only her views that are problematic.
The Atlantic Magazine has published a disturbing exposé on one of Ms. Bachmann's top staffers, one Peter E. Waldron. Waldron helped Bachmann win the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa: he is also a Christian organizer who spent prison time in Uganda in 2006, accused of terrorism and jailed for possession of assault weapons.
Waldron is also a close friend and colleague of the Ugandan politician who has been — so far unsucessfully — trying to pass a law in Uganda making homosexuality a death-penalty offense. Far from distancing themselves from Mr. Waldon, the Atlantic reports that the Bachmann campaign is enthusiastically standing behind him: "Asked about Waldron's role and background, Alice Stewart, the press secretary for the Bachmann for President campaign, replied in an email: "Michele's faith is an important part of her life and Peter did a tremendous job with our faith outreach in Iowa. We are fortunate to have him on our team and look forward to having him expanding his efforts in several states."
It was bad enough that President Obama spent time cozying up to the Christian evangelical movement that has been running amok in Africa pushing a right-wing political agenda. At least when the proposed Ugandan law became public the Obama administration condemned it, and shamed people like Rick Warren into distancing themselves from their former protegees. But what does it mean that a Republican candidate is so closely and enthusiastically tied to a man and movement that stands in effect for a holocaust against African gay people?
We know that Bachmann has a family business, via her quack of a husband Marcus "Ladybird" Bachmann, that involves "counseling" gay people into going straight: actually an unscientific and abusive form of mental torture. And we know that despite her advocacy against social welfare spending that her family has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in government funds. But do we know that Bachmann's actual agenda for gay people in Uganda, the US or anywhere is other than criminalization and murder? In truth, no. And that's not funny at all.