Dr. Marcus and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. See? I haven't even said anything yet and you're already smiling. That's because the visage of this couple brings mirth. It's like watching Rob and Laura Petrie run for president, only without the wisdom and good humor of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
The Bachmanns have five children and have fostered 23 others, and God bless them for it. In an age of hypocrisy, at least Michele Bachmann backs up her virulent anti-abortion views by caring for children who have already been born. There is nothing less than admirable in being a foster parent. If having babies and rearing children were a major qualification for the presidency, however, the logical choice would be to vote for Octomom. As for Bachmann, she signed a "pro-marriage pledge," created by the Iowa nutbag organization the Family Leader, which equated abortion, Sharia law, pornography, and gay marriage as evils and insinuated that black children had it better under slavery. After an outcry of righteous disgust, the group decided to delete that particular paragraph. But not before Bachmann signed it.
Marcus Bachmann, a self-described "Christian therapist," came under public scrutiny when it was revealed that his federally funded counseling centers offered religion-based, gay-to-straight "reparative" therapy. Dr. Bachmann claims that homosexuality is a choice and has advised the parents of potentially gay children that "barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined. Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn't mean that we are supposed to go down that road."
Bachmann later said that he never meant to refer to gays as barbarians but instead was referring to children, as if that made it better. I can't help it, but every time I look at this guy, he reminds me of the illegitimate son of former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson and Liberace. I confess to having zero gaydar, but watching Marcus Bachmann doing the bop at a Tea Party rally was like watching Kevin Bacon on estrogen. From a guy who sounds like Woody Woodpecker and looks like Gorgeous George, I deduce that he's contemplated "going down that road" before. Maybe he's fathered five children, but, let's face it, Bachmann makes Adam Lambert look butch. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Inquiries have also raised questions about the doctor's credentials. Bachmann claims a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Union Graduate College, only no such program existed when he graduated. Unlicensed in Minnesota, "Dr." Bachmann's clinics, while offering counseling for addiction and other real-world problems, rely on evangelical teachings to the point where their eligibility for federal funding seems suspect. The "pray away the gay" therapy only exacerbates the problem.
Michele Bachmann has recently said that she "loves the homosexuals," but this was to neutralize her previous remarks. In an earlier interview, she said that homosexuality "leads to the personal enslavement of individuals. If you're involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it's bondage."
Is there a straight lifestyle that I don't know about? And why do evangelicals evoke gay imagery to describe human sexuality? Bachmann's campaign for an anti-gay marriage amendment and the Tea Party's social agenda has propelled her past Mitt Romney as the front-runner for the Republican nomination. Now, if we could only change her mind about slavery perhaps she wouldn't talk about "bondage" so much.
Even Rudy Giuliani has advised Republican candidates to leave the gay marriage issue alone, but Bachmann continues marching as to war with Marcus at her side. Despite tub-thumping for the right-wing sex police, Bachmann claims the election is about economics, so she can tout her law degree from Oral Roberts University, now Regents College. May I show you my philosophy degree from Lenny's College?
Just before the kickoff to Bachmann's presidential campaign, she and her husband conveniently resigned their membership in the Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, probably because that church teaches that the pope is the Antichrist. Michele has claimed she is running for president under God's instructions. Do you suppose God told her to leave her church in order to avoid a Jeremiah Wright moment, or was that her decision?
In any other year, views like these from a presidential contender would be alarming. But the Tea Party-led Republicans have shown themselves to be buffoons and paid corporate shills who would sacrifice the American economy before siding with Obama on anything. These people can no longer be taken seriously and must be steamrolled like California 405. So, please, nominate Michele Bachmann for president — or any of the other birthers, climate-change deniers, anti-abortion zealots, gay bashers, sovereign citizens, or tax refuseniks.
Maybe in Obama's second term we can get serious about some New Deal-like job programs and governmental infrastructure projects and put the country back to work. This requires dealing with labor unions and other socialist organizations that the right abhors. But then, what don't they abhor? Last week's news featured Michele Bachmann leading in the Iowa caucuses, deposed Glenn Beck receiving rock star treatment by the right-wing Israeli Knesset, and Rupert Murdoch's media empire under siege. I thought I was dreaming. Members of my generation might remember that old song by Thunderclap Newman: "Something in the Air." Depending on which way the wind blows, this election year could be a toxic event for right-wing extremists.
Randy Haspel writes the blog "Born-Again Hippies," where a version of this column first appeared.