The first time I ever saw Michelle Bachmann was when, as a brand new Congressperson from Minnesota, she hugged and kissed George W. Bush after the State of the Union Address. She was so affectionate toward him that I almost wondered why the Secret Service guys didn’t pull her off him. Here’s a you tube clip in which she explains the incident.
The reason I was reading up on Bachmann is that I was struck by the story at TPM today about Bachmann’s claim that she used to be a liberal Democrat, but she suddenly became an extreme right wing Republican after reading Gore Vidal’s novel Burr. Here’s the transcript of a Bachmann appearance in Michigan in which she recounts the story of her abrupt conversion.
Michigan is a tough state, but I do believe that Democrats, independents, Republicans, all make up fair-minded, reasonable people. I say that because I grew up in a Democrat state, and I have to share a little secret with you: I was a Democrat when I grew up. Because in Minnesota, they stamp that on your birth certificate! You know that, that’s how it works.
I didn’t realize until I went off to college one day — this is the honest to God truth — I was going off to college, and I was reading this snotty novel. It was written by Gore Vidal, and I was maybe like a junior in college, or — yeah, I think was maybe a junior in college. I was reading this snotty novel, and he was going after our Founders. And he was mocking them. And he was making fun out of them.
I was a reasonable, fair-minded Democrat. And another secret you need to know: My husband and I met in college. We worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. It’s true, it’s true. This is like a 12-step meeting here today, you know that. Because I am here to admit to you, I’m a Minnesotan who had “DFL” – that’s what we call Democrats in our state — stamped on my birth certificate, worked for Jimmy Carter. The first time I ever went to Washington, DC, I went to dance at Jimmy Carter’s inaugural ball! It gets worse!
Until I was reading this snotty novel called ‘Burr,’ by Gore Vidal, and read how he mocked our Founding Fathers. And as a reasonable, decent, fair-minded person who happened to be a Democrat, I thought, ‘You know what? What he’s writing about, this mocking of people that I revere, and the country that I love, and that I would lay my life down to defend — just like every one of you in this room would, and as many of you in this room have when you wore the uniform of this great country — I knew that that was not representative of my country.
And at that point I put the book down and I laughed. I was riding a train. I looked out the window and I said, ‘You know what? I think I must be a Republican. I don’t think I’m a Democrat.’
And from that moment on, I recognized that it was the Republican Party, and conservatives in particular, who really got America — who we are, what we stand for, and are unashamed about the values that the Founders lived and died and shed their blood and their treasure for.
Good Grief! I can see why someone might think Gore Vidal is “snotty” (did she mean “snooty” or maybe “snobby”?) but he isn’t any more so than, say, William F. Buckley was.
At Salon’s War Room, Alex Pareene writes:
In my perhaps unrepresentative experience, Vidal’s historical fiction — especially “Burr” and “Lincoln” — are the only things Vidal ever wrote that conservatives like. (I mean, thank god Michele didn’t pick up “Myra Breckenridge.”) But those are the conservatives who, I guess, are adult enough to read a mostly historically accurate account of the Revolution in which the Founders are portrayed as recognizably human and not become offended that the book is not a literary adaption of the Schoolhouse Rock classic “No More Kings.”
Anyway, it turns out that Bachmann has been telling her silly conversion story for years. Pareene dug up several examples. The funniest one is an interview with George Will.
Bachmann, an authentic representative of the Republican base, had quite enough on her plate before politics. She and Marcus, a clinical psychologist, were raising their children — they had four then; they have five now — and, as foster parents, were raising some other people’s children, 23 of them, a few teenagers at a time.
Born in Iowa but a Minnesotan by age 12, Bachmann acquired what she calls “her family’s Hubert Humphrey knee-jerk liberalism.” She and her husband danced at Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. Shortly thereafter, however, she was riding on a train and reading Gore Vidal’s novel “Burr,” which is suffused with that author’s jaundiced view of America. “I set the book down on my lap, looked out the window and thought: ‘That’s not the America I know.’ ” She volunteered for Reagan in 1980.
Bachmann is married to a clinical psychologist? Wow, I’m going to have to take some time to digest that.
Oh wait, I just looked at his academic credentials:
Dr. Marcus Bachmann, president of Bachmann & Associates, has been a clinical therapist in the Twin Cities for more than 18 years. Marcus is a popular conference speaker with practical insights, biblical principles, and humor interwoven in his messages.
I believe my call is to minister to the needs of people in a practical, caring and sensitive way.
Dr. Bachmann received his Masters degree in education/counseling from Regent University located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He received his Doctorate degree in clinical psychology from Union Graduate Institute located in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Are those places even accredited?