What can I say? If the leading Republican contenders for their Party’s nomination refuse to make it official this late in the game* (by this point in the 2008 campaign, there were fully 16 candidates from both sides of the aisle who had announced their dishonorable intentions), then we’ll have to content ourselves with profiles of some of the more interesting and colorful “unlikelies.”
Such a one is Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, founder of the House Tea Party caucus and a leading light of GOP malapropisms and misdirection. Telegenic, some would say charismatic, never at a loss for words (though frequently failing to grasp the facts), this Sarah Palin clone has been recently mooted as a possible Presidential hopeful by a desperate media punditry grasping at straws for something to discuss, in the depressing absence of official candidates. Representative Bachmann has added fuel to the fire by a series of suspiciously timed speaking engagements in those electoral bellwethers, Iowa and New Hampshire, not failing to issue the standard GOP disclaimer about only running for President “If God calls me to do it.”
Born Michele Amble in Waterloo, Iowa, Bachmann’s family moved to Anoka, Minnesota in grade school. Her parents divorced shortly after, and her father David moved to California, leaving mother Jean to raise Michele and her three siblings. After graduation from Anoka High School in 1974, Bachmann spent some time on a kibbutz in Israel, then returned to complete her education at Winona State University in Minnesota, followed by a law degree from Oral Roberts University, and a master’s in tax law from William & Mary Law School. In 1978, she married Marcus Bachmann; the couple have 5 children and have fostered 23 others.
Bachmann was brought up a Democrat, but changed party affiliation during her senior year at Winona State, describing her political conversion experience thus, after reading Gore Vidal’s historical novel, Burr: “He was kind of mocking the Founding Fathers and I just thought, I just remember reading the book, putting it in my lap, looking out the window and thinking, ‘You know what? I don’t think I am a Democrat. I must be a Republican.’” Such faultless logic has become a hallmark of her public career, as we shall shortly see.
Bachmann worked as an IRS attorney until 1993, when she retired to become a full-time mother. At that time she also formed a Charter School for home-schooled children with similar-minded parents from the area. She entered politics in 2000, narrowly winning election as a Minnesota State Senator in a three-way race for the 56th District seat, which she held until running for the US House of Representatives in 2006, becoming the first Republican woman elected to Congress from her state.
Antagonism to abortion rights has characterized Bachmann’s career, before and after election to office. Galvanized to pro-life activism by a 1976 Christian documentary (Bachmann’s views seem to be inordinately influenced by media representations), she and her husband appeared frequently at abortion clinic protests throughout the ‘80s, offering prayer and sidewalk counseling to prospective patients. In 1991, she made headlines at a Ramsay County Board meeting, protesting the appropriation of public funds to a local hospital which also provided abortion services, alleging the funding effectively made her “a landlord of an abortion clinic, and I don’t like that distinction.”
While in the State Senate, in 2006, she proposed an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution which would restrict state funding for abortion. The amendment died in committee. At the time, Bachmann expressed her views on the tragedy of abortion in minority populations:
It is horrific to know that in the African American community, 50 percent of all African American pregnancies in the United States end in abortion, 50 percent. That is a genocide of African Americans of the United States. It should not be. There are Americans all across this country who would love to adopt African American babies, but they can’t because 50 percent of all African American pregnancies today are ending in abortion.
Tragic as this is, it’s very gratifying to know there is apparently not a single black child awaiting a good home in an orphanage or adoption facility.
Several other legislative attempts to promote traditional marriage also failed. In 2003, she argued for another constitutional amendment to bar Minnesota from granting legal recognition to same-sex marriages. When that amendment failed, she attempted to have the proposition included as a referendum in the 2004 general election ballot, again without success.
Bachmann took a third bite of the apple in 2005, but was summarily rejected in her attempt to amend the state’s constitution. Once again, Bachmann’s reasoning is impeccable, as she defines the problem:
Normalization (of gayness) through desensitization. Very effective way to do this with a bunch of second graders, is take a picture of ‘The Lion King’ for instance, and a teacher might say, ‘Do you know that the music for this movie was written by a gay man?’ The message is: I’m better at what I do, because I’m gay. … And what a bizarre time we’re in, when a judge will say to little children that you can’t say the pledge of allegiance, but you must learn that homosexuality is normal and you should try it.
With election to the US Congress in 2006 as Minnesota’s Sixth District Representative (including suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul), Bachmann gained a national audience for her views. Her legislative impact was felt almost immediately with her introduction in 2007 of the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act,” which attempted to roll back government energy efficiency standards that would have virtually eliminated incandescent light bulb production by 2012, in favor of compact fluorescents. In keeping with Bachmann’s grand legislative tradition at the Minnesota State House, the bill was rejected, but she re-introduced the legislation in March 2011, stating “the government has no business telling an individual what kind of light bulb to buy.”
In the summer of 2008, as gasoline prices rose to $4/gallon, Bachmann became a leading proponent of increased domestic oil production via extensive drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR), discounting the effect of such a move on the environment. She denies Global Warming, describing it as “voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax,” further expounding that:
Carbon dioxide is natural, it is not harmful, it is a part of Earth’s lifecycle. And yet we’re being told that we have to reduce this natural substance, reduce the American standard of living, to create an arbitrary reduction in something that is naturally occurring in Earth.
Bachmann’s ecological politics became ridiculously muddled with her theology, when she stated that then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has even said she is trying to save the planet. We all know that someone did that 2,000 years ago.”
Bachmann interjected herself into the 2008 presidential campaign when in an October interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, she expressed concern that Democratic nominee Barack Obama “may have anti-American views,” based on his prior associations with Reverend Jeremiah Wright and former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, stating, “usually we associate with people who have similar ideas to us, and it seems that it calls into question what Barack Obama’s true beliefs, and values, and thoughts are…I am very concerned.”
When pressed by Matthews to name names of other Congress members who might also fit this “anti-American” category, Bachmann answered,
What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look…I wish they would…I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out are they pro-America, or anti-America. I think people would love to see an expose like that.
One of the earliest indicators that Bachmann’s knowledge of history and the Constitution was perhaps inadequate to her task came in June 2009, when she indicated distrust of the upcoming 2010 Census, alleging that many of the questions had become “very intricate, very personal”, and averring that as for her and her family,
The only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home, we won’t be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn’t require any information beyond that. I think there is a point where you say enough is enough to government intrusion. …Does the federal government really need to know our phone numbers?
Unfortunately for Bachmann, the Constitution does require that the Census form be completed in full. When apprised of this fact, Bachmann’s response was typical—she co-sponsored a bill to make cooperation in the Census voluntary (the American Community Survey Act), which received the usual reception.
2009 was also the year that saw her controversial remarks against proposed cap and trade carbon reduction legislation, stating that she wanted to see Minnesotans “armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back.” Bachmann’s office quickly backpedaled, explaining that the Congresswoman had meant “armed with knowledge.”
In speeches railing against a proposed expansion of Americorps, a federal community service organization, Bachmann’s incipient paranoia shone through again, when she charged,
It’s under the guise of— quote—‘volunteerism.’ But it’s not volunteers at all. … I believe that there is a very strong chance that we will see that young people will be put into mandatory service. And the real concerns is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go to work in some of these politically correct forums.
Not surprisingly, Bachmann also opposed the Healthcare Reform Act, characterizing it as a “government takeover of healthcare” which would “squeeze out private insurance.” “This cannot pass,” she stated , “What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t pass.” Of course, it passed.
In July 2010 Bachmann formed the House Tea Party Caucus, of which she is chair, with like-minded Republican legislators. The caucus has 59 members, and Bachmann used her prominence there to attempt to springboard a leap into a Party leadership position after the GOP gained control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 election.
Her bid to replace Mike Pence as House Republican Conference Chair ended in failure almost before it began, due to resentment among colleagues that Bachmann was attempting to control the GOP via its anti-establishment Tea Party wing. As a sop she was granted a seat on the House Intelligence Committee by incoming Speaker John Boehner, despite a lack of prior experience in foreign policy matters.
Perhaps the clearest indicator that Bachmann moots a presidential run was her response, under the guise of the Tea Party mantle, to Obama’s 2011 State of the Union speech, an unprecedented action separate from the traditional opposition Party response, which was given by Paul Ryan.
Just days before, she had made her initial foray into Iowa, site of the first 2012 presidential caucus. Her speech then was the source of another gaffe, when she declared that:
We also know that the very founders that wrote those documents [the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution] worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States … I think it is high time that we recognize the contribution of our forebearers who worked tirelessly—men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.
The fact that it was not John Quincy Adams, but his father John who was an architect of the country’s establishment, and that John Quincy was already “resting” in his grave a good 15 years before Lincoln’s abolition of slavery, made some wonder if Bachmann had any grounding in American history at all.
This consternation only increased when Bachmann subsequently followed up this gaffe with a truly epic one during her Manchester, New Hampshire appearance in March 2011, where she told the enthusiastic crowd, “You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” Well, close. That would of course be Massachusetts, but New Hampshire also has a town named Concord, and was also one of the original 13 states, so her confusion is … well, natural?
On March 23, Michele Bachmann announced that she might be forming an exploratory committee for a possible presidential run as early as June 201:
I’m in for 2012 in that I want to be a part of the conversation in making sure that President Obama only serves one term, not two, because I want to make sure that we get someone who’s going to be making the country work again. That’s what I’m in for.
Born 6 April 1956, Michele Bachmann sports a Sun/Mercury/Eris conjunction at 16, 17 and 8 Aries, which opposes one Black Hole at 13 Libra and squares a second at 16 Capricorn. Sun/Black Hole individuals can be mesmerizing, compelling and dynamic, with the ability to attract others into their orbits almost effortlessly, for good or ill. They gravitate to power and often prefer to act behind the scenes, making deals and pulling strings, but Bachmann’s Sun also opposes a Quasar at 14 Libra, making such subterfuge useless, as these deep space anomalies are among the brightest in the universe, and shine an intense spotlight on whatever they touch. Sun/Quasar natives stand out in a crowd, like a beacon on a hilltop, and blending in is not an option. Quasars promote visibility and success, but not necessarily the talent or ability to follow up this natural advantage.
Black Hole Mercury is similarly stressed. On the one hand, it can be persuasive and compelling in argument; on the other, it tends to make up facts, and has its own version of reality to impart. Severe foot-in-mouth disease can be a manifestation of this combination (as witness George W. Bush, who had an exact conjunction), but there is also the ability to mislead others and create a verbal picture that is at once believable and seemingly genuine, albeit a total fabrication or fantasy. Sometimes the Black Hole Mercury native is aware of the lies she is telling, and at others, she is so enmeshed in the alternate reality she disseminates that she believes it herself. Bachmann appears to be of the latter variety, a true believer who has convinced herself that she speaks sooth, even when it fails to soothe.
But it is Eris that is the true fly in the ointment here. This TNO from the far-flung Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto is named for the Greek goddess of strife and discord, and Bachmann fairly radiates these qualities, acting as human simulacrum and magnetizing these energies in others. Having natal Eris in exact square to the USA’s own Eris at 8 Capricorn further cements her position as America’s Goad-in-Chief, urging others to exert themselves in the causes she supports, whatever the consequences to the public good will.
Adding to this tendency to provoke is natal Mars, which at 24 Capricorn is squared the Sun and Mercury, identifying Bachmann as a fighter and a leader (Mars square Sun) whose rhetoric (Mercury) can be violent and heated (both Mars). This is reiterated by Mars’ exact opposition to the USA’s exact Mercury/Agita pairing at 24 Cancer—that restless, nervous, somewhat paranoid energy which is always waiting to erupt from our collective subconscious, causing us to distract our focus from real to perceived threats, and to deflect and deplete our energies in a barrage of words, thoughts, plans and schemes which sound effective but never really gain traction or solve our problems.
Bachmann’s natal Agita at 27 Libra closely conjoins her natal Neptune at 29 Libra, fanning our fears, awakening our idealism but offering impractical, feel-good solutions which are pure fantasy, stroking the depths of our agitation and discontent for her own apotheosis.
Mars further opposes Uranus at 28 Cancer in Bachmann’s chart, causing her to shoot from the hip, a loose cannon, provoking violent or disruptive actions in others. Uranus conjoins the USA Mercury/Agita, whipping it up to fever pitch and potentially setting loose something very difficult to recapture or control. With natal Panacea also here at 22 Cancer, she presents her views (Mercury) as a cure-all or healing mechanism (both Panacea), attempting to pour oil on the very waters she herself has troubled (Uranus).
An exact opposition from Venus at 2 Gemini to Saturn at 2 Sagittarius shows her potential as a woman (Venus) to excel in a supervisory, authoritarian, executive role (Saturn). Asteroid Washingtonia at 4 Pisces transforms this opposition into a T-Square, and shows the nation’s capital as the likely venue for her career efforts. Venus/Saturn can also be seen in one of her more amusing theories on economics, regarding the minimum (Saturn) wage (Venus):
If we took away the minimum wage—if conceivably it was gone—we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.
Washingtonia is also conjunct asteroid Lie at 12 Pisces, suggesting a less-than-forthright political relationship, while TNO Chaos and asteroid House combined at 4 and 6 Aries have their own tale to tell about Bachmann’s likely effect upon her workplace, the US House of Representatives.
TNO Quaoar at 13 Libra opposes Sun/Mercury. Named for a Native American creator deity and linked with reproductive issues and abortion specifically (see my article on “Quaoar and Reproduction” in the August 2003 Daykeeper Journal), this says much about Bachmann’s antipathy (opposition) to abortion rights.
Jupiter and Pluto pair at 21 and 26 Leo, indicating that the root of her political philosophy (Jupiter) is power and control (Pluto). The combination of these with asteroids Hybris and Nemesis at 27 and 29 Leo suggests that Bachmann’s political (Jupiter) downfall (Nemesis) may come via an act of pride, arrogance, or hubris (Hybris), valuing herself too highly or disregarding the role others have played in her success, crediting her own efforts as supreme.
Natal Mercury’s strong placement and her vital contacts to the USA Mercury indicate that Bachmann will continue to be a voice dominating American politics for some time to come. Whether in that voice the nation hears a siren call or the screech of a squeaky wheel remains to be seen.
[*Author’s note: as of the writing of this article (April 14), former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have both announced the formation of exploratory committees, but neither has officially announced his candidacy.]