Rep. Michele Bachmann — who is running for the Republican presidential nomination – has gone as far right in politics as she can go. Her views are almost as primitively conservative as Attila the Hun. And she is the darling of the tea party members. The attractive 55-year-old, three-term Minnesota GOP congresswoman has thrown her bonnet into the ring with great aplomb.
A Des Moines Register poll showed her running neck and neck with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Bachmann founded the Tea Party caucus in the House of Representatives and is politically conservative on all social and fiscal issues. She is against abortion and Planned Parenthood. She also vocally opposes same-sex marriages. She has reportedly claimed that she was called by God to run for Congress.
I expected a lot of things when I attended the Conservative Political Action Caucus (CPAC) last week. I was assigned to cover the conference for my day job. I’ll admit some trepidation. Let’s face it. I’m a lot of the things that I could reasonably expect most CPAC attendees to hate: a liberal, non-Christian, black, gay, legally married father of two.
I expected trouble, but I didn’t have any problems. I guess because I my badge said “Media” rather than all of the above.
What I didn’t expect at my first CPAC was meeting an openly gay Republican presidential candidate.
To hear some progressive bloggers tell it, Paul Ryan’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union address was an utter failure, and the GOP blundered in picking him to carry its message. But the true measure of a speech’s success is how well the speaker reaches the intended audience, with the intended effect. Given the job of reaching two audiences — reassuring one of the purity of his politics, while allaying the fears of the other about the likely results of his politics — Ryan may well have succeeded by appearing to fail.
Granted, Obama is a tough act to follow when it comes to speech-making. And Michelle Bachmann, delivering the Tea Party rebuttal on CNN, had more entertainment value. (I hung on for her speech the way some people stay up to hear the opening monologue of their favorite late night TV host.) Next to them, I found Ryan’s speech something of a yawner. That’s probably because it wasn’t for me. In other words, whether you give a good speech or not depends a lot on who you’re talking to, and Ryan certain wasn’t talking to me or anyone else on my end of the political spectrum.
We are just around the corner from what many believe is yet another defining moment of our time. I’m sure everyone remembers a time not that long ago when sitting out voting in an election didn’t “seem” to have much of an impact on our lives. Was it that we felt so comfortable with our democratic center holding by default that we could afford to focus our attention elsewhere? I think that was the case for me and combined with the added distractions of just living I wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on in the halls of power. The arc of the moral Universe seemed to be making it’s bend towards justice for all people, albeit painfully slowly.
My wake up call was 9/11. I won’t bore you with my conspiracy theories on what I believe happened that day, but a decade later much of our nation is still awakening from that consciousness jarring event. I woke up wondering what had led us to this dangerous new world where we were told our freedoms were less important than our security and we must give chunks of it away in order to be safe from those who hate us for it! That didn’t make sense to me and I began to educate myself about what had been going on while I was not paying attention and what I discovered was truly frightening.
If you follow my Recommended Reading lists, which I think has morphed into @NunziaReads or something, you may have noticed I’ve been just a tad obsessed with Rand Paul lately. Rand is the curly haired, opthamologist son of physician and Congressman Ron Paul who just won the Republican nomination for a senate seat in Kentucky.
It’s kind of significant because Rand is a Tea Party darling, apparently because they don’t know he’s a libertarian who opposes the Patriot Act, although his immature, sophomoric, libertarian beliefs about the role of government in policing discrimination may completely make up for that little slip. But Rand slamdunked Trey Grayson in the GOP primary — and Grayson was backed by Kentucky’s other senator, Minority Leader Mitch “How Many Chins Do I Have” McConnell and Darth Cheney. Ouch. That musta hurt.