Bachmann’s History

Michelle Goldberg actually takes Michele Bachmann seriously , and this is what happens: The first actually revealing piece about since the City Pages profiled her in 2006 . Most interesting is what happens when Goldberg reads a book by John Eidsmoe, an old Bachmann instructor at Oral Roberts (who hung up the phone when called).

Earlier this year, for example, she was mocked for saying that the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly” to end slavery. But in books by Eidsmoe and others who approach history from what they call a Christian worldview, this is a truism. Despite his defense of the Confederacy, Eidsmoe also argues that even those founders who owned slaves opposed the institution and wanted it to disappear, and that it was only Christian for them to protect their slaves until it did. “It might be very difficult for a freed slave to make a living in that economy; under such circumstances setting slaves free was both inhumane and irresponsible,” he wrote.

Elite journalists* waste a lot of time finding “gaffes” when conservatives criticize the media’s take on some event or the official history of something. Conservatives and libertarians don’t trust those sources of authority. There’s always a market for historical revisionism, which is a reason Amity Shlaes’s book about the Great Depression was such a sensation – Republicans found proof that stimulus spending would only make economic depression and uncertainty worse.

It’s not safe to assume Bachmann, or another politician, is stupid. It’s safer to assume they’ve got knowledge you don’t have – whether or not that knowledge is correct.