Mr. Chatterbox

By Robert Plunket Photography by Michele McGaughey October 1, 2011

Straight and narrow: Michele and Marcus Bachmann on the campaign trail.The morning of the Michele Bachmann for President rally at the Sahib Temple, I woke up with a migraine headache. Perfect, I thought. Michele gets migraines, too, and it has developed into a campaign mini-issue. Can one govern effectively with a migraine?

I, for one, cannot. I can just picture myself during a bad one, down on all fours in the Oval Office, vomiting on the carpet, and in come the generals, wanting to know what to do. “Bomb Syria!” I scream. Then I begin to crawl around, making little keening noises. “Or Libya. Bomb both of them! And get me some drugs.”

But that’s just me. Michele probably handles her headaches better. What does she do, exactly? All migraine survivors have their little tricks, and I wondered what hers were. Does she require total darkness? Does she listen to loud music? Does she stick her head in a bucket of ice? (I did notice that they were loading ice onto her campaign bus.)

Anyway, I popped some pills and headed over to the temple, that building on Beneva next to the Circus City Trailer Park with the big statue of a Shriner leading a crippled child out in front.

There was already a line of people around the block. I heard my name being called and turned around to see Trevor Cramer, former manager of the symphony orchestra. He was talking on his cell phone, trying to scare up a heckling party. Any heckling by Trevor and his friends would have been dwarfed in quality by the 50 or so New College students standing across Beneva and yelling insults. Rather than being offended by the angry youths, the Bachmann supporters were endlessly amused. “They’re young,” said one man indulgently. “Wait until they go through their first bankruptcy.”

Many of the things the students were yelling had to do with sexual issues. One young man was wearing lipstick and a dress, which he would pull up to his waist and then do bumps and grinds toward the oncoming traffic. I hate to say it, but I felt much more at home on the Bachmann side of the street.

Finally we got into the temple. Do you know they have a big bar in there? In fact, that’s about all they have, that and a ballroom where the rally was to take place. It was packed with pleasant-looking middle-class white people of all ages, plus one black guy. There were a couple of warm-up speeches (including recognition of all the Tea Party groups present, one of which was called, as far as I could figure out, Take Back Our Country from Englewood), then came a prayer, and the national anthem, much too loudly amplified. The music came on and everybody covered their ears.Then Michele came out and did the frug. She is short, and she was wearing a simple black sheath with a big pearl bracelet. She’s a dead ringer for one of the Real Housewives of Orange County—Lynn, the real dumb one who makes jewelry in her breakfast room and has a rebellious daughter.I was expecting a scary, moralistic woman who says ridiculous things, but she wasn’t that way at all. She talked mostly about economics, and in a way even I could understand. Apparently the government is spending too much money on stupid things—did you realize we paid for that new Chinese aircraft carrier?—and they need more and more bureaucrats to “oversee” things and they all get paid over $100,000. The worst is the Environmental Protection Agency. And as for the Department of Education, that can easily go, too. We also have to get rid of Obamacare, because it only allows 50,000 hip replacements a year and if you’re 50,001, you’re out of luck and will have to hobble around until next January.

I hate to say it, but I had an epiphany during her speech. There she was, going on about how awful the government is, and how it can’t do anything right, and I’m thinking, oh, come on, the government does wonderful things, like give milk to poor children and kill Bin Laden and make sure there’s no big tubes of toothpaste on airplanes—hey, wait a minute. What about airport security? What a mess that is. It’s illogical, it’s magical thinking, it’s always a step behind the terrorists, and it must cost a fortune. Thank God the same people who are running airport security aren’t running the EPA.

Or are they?

Michele also discussed her efforts to protect the nation’s light bulbs. It seems the government is going to force us to use those new-fangled light bulbs, the squiggly ones that I just hate. They’re ugly and don’t have the same golden patina regular light bulbs have. She’s already sponsored The Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act and, right there, at the Sahib Temple, she swore that if elected President, Americans can use any light bulb they want. “And that,” she said, working up to a big finish, “is called liberty!”

Throughout the afternoon, Michele stayed on message. She made no gaffes, no outrageous statements. She stayed away from moral issues, not talking about religion at all. Her grand vision for the country is to let small business owners run it. She articulates it beautifully, and the crowd’s reaction shows that she’s on to something very powerful. And yes, her famous husband, Marcus, was there. He came out at the end and they performed their signature Lindy hop. Then he became the autograph coordinator. The crowd surged forward with programs and campaign literature to have the candidate sign, and he would organize this. The poor guy has taken flack from mean-spirited people who call attention to certain gay mannerisms he allegedly has, but he didn’t look particularly gay to me, except maybe a little around the mouth.

After I got my Michele autograph I thrust it back at him and he looked at me, puzzled. “I want yours,” I yelled above the noise. A look of undiluted joy came into his eyes, and a moment passed between us. He signed my program “Marcus” in great big letters and gave it back to me with a knowing smile, almost a wink.

That’s when I noticed my migraine was returning. 

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