Okay, very nice catch by Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent yesterday. It's an article that appeared in an online publication called Christian Examiner Online.
Now people who read my stuff on Bachmann regularly know that I'm something of a nut on the subject of this organization known as the Council for National Policy, and the role it played in her rise.
The question that I'm asked most often about Michele Bachmann is: how could such a kook get elected? There are many reasons why, but one reason I always give is the sponsorship she's received since earliest days of her political career from the national religious right.
And the people in the Council for National Policy--*are* what the media refers to as the "religious right." They are the leaders of the evangelical conservative political movement that has been moving the Republican Party further and further to the right.
In the Christian Examiner Online piece I'm going to excerpt below, Bachmann confides that Beverly LaHaye was a big inspiration in her political rise. Who is Beverly LaHaye? She's the wife of Tim LaHaye, author of the incredibly popular Left Behind series of Christian apocalyptic novels--and the founder of the Council for National Policy. (continued)
Even though most people, most journalists, most evangelicals--have never heard of the Council for National Policy (CNP) it remains the most powerful group of people within the Republican Party today. For example, it can make or break Republican presidential candidacies. George Bush and Dick Cheney went to address the CNP in person. John McCain, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson--all came a courting, in person, to the CNP to seek the membership's support for their candidacies.
CNP big-wig Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family announced at a CNP meeting that he would form a third party if the popular but relatively liberal Rudy Giuliani was made Republican nominee. And shortly thereafter, Giuliani's candidacy ended.
So why have you never heard of these people? To a large degree, it's because they don't want to be heard of. Founder Tim LaHaye began his political activism as a John Birch Society recruiter. And some of the CNP organizations' tactics--the use of innocent sounding front groups, infiltration of existing organizations by stealth, secrecy surrounding the identity of members--owe a lot to the John Birch Society and its "right wing subversion of government and civic organizations" strategy.
That strategy is part of how the CNP's affiliate organizations operate. And the CNP's proceedings and membership are secret. But the CNP does exist, and from time to time its power is reported on and acknowledged by trusted media sources. (Google Council for National Policy with a name like "James Dobson" and see what comes up.)
Michele Bachmann is one of their proteges, she's benefitted from their sponsorship. In 2006, CNP member Dobson organized the get-out-the-vote drive for her here in Minnesota to get her elected to Congress. And since the earliest days of her career she's been in contact with members and received council and aid from them. Locally, she benefits with free air time from broadcast appearances at radio stations owned and operated by CNP members.
In the article I quote here, Bachmann embraces Beverly LaHaye, wife of CNP founder Tim LaHaye and leader of Concerned Women for America (CWA), one of the CNP's affiliated organizations.
Paid staff members (of CWA) are frequently invited on cable and network news programs to discuss their take on national issues. Some have gone on to run for local school boards and city councils. U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann, R- Minn., an emerging leader in the conservative movement, attributes much of her background knowledge to materials provided by LaHaye and CWA.
Bachmann said she first heard of CWA in its infancy when, as a new bride, she received a cassette tape featuring LaHaye’s views on the feminist movement and other social issues of that era.
“I was highly motivated by what I heard Mrs. LaHaye say,” the Republican offered before casting a vote at the U.S. Capitol. “Something got ahold of me about the course of where our country was heading.”
In 1998, while caring for some of their 27 foster children, (Editor's note: "Twenty-seven?" What happened to "twenty three" as the count for the foster children?) Bachmann said she became more involved in the process by addressing concerns she had with public schools and with the “political correctness” movement that threatened her values, attitudes and beliefs.
In 2000 she was elected to the Minnesota state senate until six years later when voters sent her on to Washington as a U.S. Congresswoman. Bachmann said she found LaHaye to be an authoritative and credible voice to listen to, primarily because of LaHaye’s commitment to research, skills she is finding useful as she now represents her own constituents.
“She (LaHaye) doesn’t see herself as extraordinary, but we see her as an extraordinary woman of God who has completely abandoned herself to the will of God,” the congresswoman said. “I consider myself extremely fortunate to be her friend and to have benefited from the sacrifices she made early on in this effort...”
As I mentioned, Beverly LaHaye's Concerned Women for America lobby is affilated with the Council for National Policy, founded by LaHaye's husband. The CNP is a powerful political organization with a supernatural, extreme right worldview based on "we're on God's side, America really belongs to us, every American who isn't with us is against God and is a witting or unwitting tool of Satan." Bible prophecy, apocalyptic thinking, and a conspiratorial view of government play a huge role in their manipulation of millions of conservative evangelical voters. Note that this interpretation of the world and events is almost co-terminous with the thinking found in extremist right wing militia groups. That explains a lot of Bachmann's revolutionary rhetoric.
Decades of lobbying and political activism mean that the CNP is politically sophisticated. The members are very good at playing the game of politics--elections, campaigns, "getting the message out," handling the mainstream media, lobbying. They have been incredibly successful over the past thirty years or so in their efforts to conflate conservative political views with "true Christianity"--in the minds of millions of American evangelical voters, most of whom don't even know of the organization's existence. Via their capture of Republican voters, they were instrumental in the rise of George W. Bush and his re-election in 2004, and--as with Bachmann--they groom particular candidates in local politics for national office in the hope of capturing seats in American government.
Because I stumbled upon this national network while writing about Bachmann back when she was still a state legislator, I was able to foresee and write about her possible rise to prominence in US politics after her election to Congress--despite her lack of any actual political achievement, despite the fact that she was quickly identified as some kind of extremist nut as soon as political journalists and bloggers got a look at her.
But to this day, no professional journalists write about the CNP or even mentions them when they profile Bachmann! How about that?
Here's the link to the Bachmann/LaHaye story.