Don’t get me wrong: I think religious literacy, as in knowing the history and beliefs of various religions including one’s own, is important for every citizen. And in answer to the question of whether voters should consider candidates’ religious beliefs, I should have added that people need to understand what each of the candidates’ religious beliefs are so as to understand better how that individual might govern. Beyond that…well, read on and let me know what you think. Continue reading “Should voters consider candidates’ religious beliefs?”
As second wave feminism gathered peak velocity forty years ago, the late bombastic and behatted Congresswoman (D-NY) Bella Abzug persuaded Congress to designate August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. It recognized the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that in 1920 gave all U.S. women the right to vote. Continue reading “Three Ways Not to Celebrate Women’s Equality Day – August 26, 2011”
It’s hard to believe the next presidential election is still almost 16 months away. If you were Michelle Bachmann’s advisor, what strategy would you propose she take to sustain her momentum and end up as the Republican standard bearer? (Ouch, I have a headache…)
Arena Asks: Michele Bachmann was named the winner of the Iowa straw poll tonight, taking 4,823 votes out of nearly 17,000 cast. Ron Paul was a close runner-up, taking 4,671 votes. In a distant third place was former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who took 2,293 votes after investing heavily in the event. What does this victory say about Bachmann’s future in the presidential race? And is this the end of the line for Tim Pawlenty?
My Answer: Pawlenty’s third place was actually better than his numbers would have predicted going in, so he’s lived to fight at least one more day. Cain, Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich can go home now.
That Bachmann and Paul, the two wackiest of the major candidates, together scooped up over 56% of the vote ought to be enough to send chills down the spines of every Democrat and Independent, along with a few moderate Republicans–and joy into the Obama and Romney camps.
Perry’s entry timing was masterfully orchestrated. It drew the glow off Bachmann’s victory. I grew up the buckle of the Texas Bible Belt and I see three big problems for Bachmann with Perry in the race. First, do not underestimate that Texas good ol’ boy charm and the arrogant sense of entitlement that underlies it. Second, Perry will play very dirty with an engaging smile on his face and an unctuous prayer on his lips masking his two-step like the politician in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” And third, given a choice between a male and a female candidate from their own ranks, the fundamentalist (and fundamentally patriarchal) Christian base will choose the man. Perry will flank Bachmann on the right within a few weeks.
Meanwhile, though, it’s Bachmann’s moment, and much will depend on her ability to sustain her momentum given that the other candidates may well aid Perry by gunning straight for her.
What do you think?
Arena Asks: Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Aug. 6 day of prayer and fasting is generating significant heat nationwide. Advocates for the separation of church and state say an elected leader should not be leading what looks to be, in effect, an evangelical Christian revival. Is there something inappropriate about the day of prayer and fasting sponsored by Perry, a possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate? Or is it an innocuous affirmation of the role of faith in public life?
My Answer: Now that we have two presidential hopefuls who claim to have been called by God, we are sure to see an escalating number of these theatrical events aimed at giving God a chance to show who is more chosen than the other.
Of course, should Perry’s day of prayer and fasting bring an end to the Texas drought, or at least a sighting of Jesus in a breakfast taco, then Michelle Bachmann would surely either withdraw from the race or at a minimum signal her willingness to be Perry’s VP. After all, female submissiveness is a key part of her religion’s theology.
In answer to the question, such government-sponsored piety is Constitutionally wrong (except perhaps in the Roberts Court which seems prepared to throw out most civil rights) and functionally useless in solving the big problems we face. If a Jewish, Muslim, or Buddhist politician were to sponsor such an event, wouldn’t you hear howls of protest?
I’m getting a headache from talking about Michelle Bachmann’s headaches.
Read on and let me know what you think.
Arena Asks: Michele Bachmann’s campaign has been overshadowed this week by questions about her chronic migraine attacks – a condition that has proved debilitating.
Could Bachmann’s migraine problem interfere with her ability to serve as president?
And was she smart to preemptively release information about her migraines?
Bachmann is headache walking.
But her migraines are no more of a deterrent than JFK’s debilitating, and often medicated, back problems or Reagan’s looming Alzheimer’s or FDR’s paralyzed legs or Lincoln’s depression or Ulysses Grant’s wee problem with the drink.
Let’s move on to exposing how her policies would turn America into the kind of patriarchal, bigoted theocracy my grandparents came here to escape. Leave Bachmann to manage her own headaches, hopefully back home in Minnesota come January, 2013.
You know the drill — Politico’s Arena asks, I answer. I’d like to know what you would have said, so please tell me in the comments section below.
Arena Asked: President Barack Obama, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warn of calamitous effects if the nation’s debt ceiling is not raised soon. But a few prominent Republicans, such as Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a presidential candidate, say nothing much would happen and blast the administration for its “scare tactics.”
Are Bachmann and co. naive about the consequences of default? Or do they have a point? Might this be the economic equivalent of Y2K, the turn-of-the-21 century computer scare that ended up causing minimal damage?
My Answer: Bachmann and her Tea Party minions are not naive–they are ruthless.
They are ruthlessly seeking power over others. They are ruthlessly seeking to change America into a narrow, dog-eat-dog, hierarchical culture consistent with their extreme fundamentalist theology.
But in the end, they are actually the lapdogs of those corporate interests (e. g. Murdock) that operate from pure greed with no connection to the social threads that bind a society together and enable a healthy economy to function. They don’t get that co-operation and mutual support (I call that the power TO) are as essential to successful cultures as competition. On that point, perhaps they are indeed dangerously naïve.
Arena Asked: Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) is drawing comparisons in her Republican presidential bid with another longshot candidate – Howard Dean, for a few months in 2003-04 the leading Democratic contender to challenge President George W. Bush. Both have drawn big summer crowds by pledging to confront the opposition party president. But Dean’s campaign fizzled even before voting began. Has Bachmann’s campaign peaked too soon? Will she end up as more of a Dean-like novelty candidate or can she go the distance?
My Answer: That bumper sticker “Dated Dean, Married Kerry” answers this question. Just look what happened after that misbegotten marriage. Choosing the least offensive rather than than the most energizing candidate didn’t serve the party very well, now did it?
Besides, think of a rhetorically fiery woman against Mr. Cool (and often caustically dismissive of others) Obama on the stump.
If I were a Republican consultant, I’d be cheering Bachmann on.
That said, we don’t yet know what Bachmann’s potentially fatal flaw will be. All candidates have them. Thus far, voters seem to be forgiving her almost surreal lack of the most basic historical facts. She approaches everything through an extreme ideological lens that quite literally gives her an alternative view of the universe. Most Americans are fundamentally tolerant and fair people. Her zeal for that rigid, theologically based universe might well cause her to do or say something that will implode her campaign just when she least expects it.
More likely than Bachmann flaming out on her own, however, is that the Tea Party itself will overreach and finally scare the bejesus out of the American voters. She could go down flying their flag when voters realize that when we are all suffering, the solution isn’t to feed those who have caused the pain while starving the rest of us, but rather to hang together, invest in innovation, and grow our way out of the current economic mess.