By Dave Andrusko
Maybe you’ve heard about—or actually seen—Newsweek’s cover photo of pro-life Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who is running for the Republican nomination for President. The first thing you think of is, of course, is what publications (and networks) of that ilk did to pro-life Sarah Palin after John McCain chose her as his running mate in 2008. In neither case did chivalry abound—just the opposite, slash-and-burn. It’s hard to imagine a less flattering photo.
Congresswoman Bachmann gave The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza what was described on National Public Radio yesterday as “unprecedented access to the congresswoman, whom he profiles in the Aug. 15, 2011, edition of The New Yorker.” Lizza talked to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, which (when it comes to the topic of pro-life women) is like the blind leading the halt.
Of course, the last few days were not the opening offensive against Bachmann. It’s been ugly from before her formal announcement June 27 and the Newsweeks and the NPRs are just getting warmed up.
If you read the “highlights” (so to speak) on NPR’s site you are reminded yet again how crucial the abortion issue was to the formation of Congresswoman Bachmann’s worldview. There is an extended reference to Francis Schaeffer whose influence in mobilizing evangelicals to join their Catholic brethren in the fight against abortion cannot—literally cannot—be exaggerated.
Opposition to abortion was a part of his theological books, to be sure, but in conjunction with C. Everett Koop (later to be Surgeon General), Schaeffer also produced a hugely influential book, a series of powerful films, and a thorough study guide collectively titled “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” What Schaeffer and Koop did as well as anyone was to explain the common origins of these assaults on innocent life and issue a call to arms.
I saw the films myself somewhere around 1979-81, if memory serves me right. There is one scene, which I will not spoil by detailing, which drew an audible gasp from the audience. It left an indelible impression on me. Let me tell you, no one left that church indifferent to abortion and infanticide and euthanasia.
The book’s dedication speaks volumes: “To those who were robbed of life, the unborn, the weak, the sick, the old, during the dark ages of madness, selfishness, lust and greed for which the last decades of the twentieth century are remembered.”
Lizza is not the first to comment on Schaeffer’s role in the development of Congresswoman Bachmann’s philosophy nor will he be the last. Schaeffer is that important to her and Bachmann freely pays homage.
One other point from Lizza’s appearance on “Fresh Air.” What clearly unnerves him is that Bachmann took from Schaeffer and others the conviction that her faith should permeate all aspects of her life and that Christians ought to GET INVOLVED—to be actively involved in the public square.
In the hands of hostile reporters, this becomes the dreaded “Christian Right” juggernaut that the media pulls out of mothballs every four years. Recycling that hoary canard is to further their agenda, which is to keep passionate pro-life Christians on the sidelines.
But that’s okay. They can caricature these voters to their heart’s content. What isn’t okay is to viciously assault the Bachmanns and the Palins of this world just because they do not conform to the media’s ideal female politician: proudly pro-abortion.
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