Michele Bachmann, who’s no fool, presented herself as the leader of a a broad-based populist movement, not the paladin of right-wing Republicanism:
The liberals, and to be clear I’m NOT one of them, want you to think the
Tea Party is the Right Wing of the Republican Party. But it’s not. It’s
made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who’ve never
been political a day in their life, libertarians, Republicans. We’re
people who simply want America back on the right track again.
But that’s another one of Bachmann’s little fibs. According to Gallup,
over 60 percent of Tea Partiers identify themselves as conservative
Republicans; four out of five are Republicans of one sort or another.
Moreover, as Rasmussen found recently
(somewhat to his surprise), Tea Party Republicans are the most loyal of
Republicans: 92 percent of them said they would vote for the GOP
presidential candidate even if their favorite doesn’t capture the
nomination, as opposed to just 78 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans.
Just as Tea Partiers are really Republicans, their would-be leader is really rooted in the religious right. Whatever may be wrong with his Rolling Stone profile,
Mike Taibbi is right to focus attention on this fact. Like Sarah Palin,
Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and a host of lesser lights, she is
just the latest creation of a movement that, among other things, has
given conservative religious women the opportunity for political
I know I keep beating this horse, but the real
question for Bachmann is
whether she can establish herself as the candidate of her white
evangelical co-religionists. Last week, a strong plurality of the board
of the National Association of Evangelicals–45 percent–selected
Tim Pawlenty as their GOP candidate of choice, as opposed to 14 percent
for Mitt Romney and 22 percent undecided. What portion of the remaining
19 percent Bachmann picked up the NAE didn’t say; presumably Pawlenty’s
strong showing had something to do with the fact that his pastor, Leith
Anderson, is the NAE president.
Be that as it may, evangelical
leaders have often shown themselves reluctant to support candidates who
are overly identified with themselves. The same can’t be said for the
evangelical rank-and-file (see Huckabee, Mike). Michele Bachmann has,
thus far, succeeded in persuaded most of the DC scribblers that she’s all about the Tea Party, the religious right not so much. I’d like to know the buzz in the churches.