Michele Bachmann is a true believer, and she's not an idiot. Also, she once freaked out in a bathroom because an ex-nun and a lesbian were trying to talk to her.
These are the major takeaways from a new profile of her by The Daily Beast's Michelle Goldberg.
Bachmann, then a state senator, had already been caught hiding in the bushes of a gay rights event and campaigned against gay marriage. But she refused to talk about the issue at a constituent forum, and when said ex-nun and lesbian constituent came into the bathroom to politely take it up with her, she lost it:
Suddenly, after less than a minute, Bachmann let out a shriek. "Help!" she screamed. "Help! I'm being held against my will!" Arnold, who is just over 5 feet tall, was stunned, and hurried to open the door. Bachmann bolted out and fled, crying, to an SUV outside. Then she called the police, saying, according to the police report, that she was "absolutely terrified and has never been that terrorized before as she had no idea what those two women were going to do to her." The Washington County attorney, however, declined to press charges, writing in a memo, "It seems clear from the statements given by both women that they simply wanted to discuss certain issues further with Ms. Bachmann."
The point here is that Bachmann lives in an alternate, constructed reality in which she truly believes, despite having once been very close to her lesbian stepsister. In that reality, her sister's orientation is to be mourned. Goldberg cites a Bachman speech on the topic: "Any of you who have members of your family in the lifestyle, we have a member of our family that is. This is not funny. It's a very sad life. It's part of Satan, I think, to say that this is gay." And her husband, who "counsels" gay people and also believes you can pray the gay away, said on Christian radio of gay teenagers, "Barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined, and just because someone feels this or thinks this, doesn't mean that we're supposed to go down that road."
She has fully internalized the evangelical worldview to an extent that sounds crazy to the uninitiated; says the son and collaborator of one influential evangelical author, "To anybody raised in the environment of the evangelical right wing, what she says makes perfect sense." Another influence Bachmann has cited approvingly: A professor who spoke at white supremacist events.
The Wall Street Journal notes today that Bachmann's name was the most searched on Google in the hours after the debate and that she "could scramble the electoral math in several of the early nominating contests." She'll be running afoul of an emerging American tolerance for gay rights, one likely not especially present in the Republican primary voter. But whether she ends up on a ticket or just makes candidates squirm and adopt similarly extreme positions, she's not to be underestimated.