Both are “diversity” pioneers. Obama was the first serious black candidate for president. Bachmann, assuming she does not fade before the nominating contests begin, will be the first serious female candidate (putting aside the nepotist Hillary Clinton). That brings both of them a certain amount of deference from guilty white males. Yesterday Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday” opened an interview with Bachmann by offering a groveling apology for having asked her an unchivalrous question weeks ago.
Where the parallels get interesting, though, is in considering why her detractors regard Bachmann as “crazy.” Much of it comes down to religion. “Bachmann belongs to a generation of Christian conservatives whose views have been shaped by institutions, tracts, and leaders not commonly known to secular Americans, or even to most Christians,” writes Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker. Lizza attributes to Bachmann “a set of beliefs more extreme than those of any American politician of her stature.”
He does not mention that the man she seeks to challenge had a “spiritual mentor” who described AIDS as a racist U.S. government plot, said of 9/11 that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost,” published Hamas propaganda in the church newsletter, and thundered from the pulpit: “God damn America!” Obama’s mentor’s beliefs might have seemed normal in the faculty lounge or the offices of The New Yorker, but they were not commonly known to Christians, or even most secular Americans.
Comparisons between Bachmann and Obama while there are several, e.g., both were inexperienced on seeking office and both opposed raising the debt limit, are an odd comparison. This comparison is one that will likely be made primarily by Bachmann oponents, especially in the light of the poor showing by Mr Obama. It is however, a criticism limited to being made on the right as Obama supporters will be less likely to be enthusiastic in drawing parallels between Obama and Bachmann.