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This was surely the time: a hated Democratic President hamstrung by a teetering economy, Tea Party candidates and policies ascendant, and, best of all, Iowa, first up in a GOP nomination process more heavily influenced by the party's base than any in recent memory, poised to catapult to frontrunner status someone they truly believed in.

So what's hanging over the fireplace this holiday morning? Republican candidate stockings filled with coal, and an internecine fight about where to place the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Merry Christmas, folks.

Through a good portion of 2011, the narrative was The Rise of Michele Bachmann. The woman with the thousand-watt stare into infinity was making huge strides in the Hawkeye State. Frequent visits and a strong grasss-roots organization made a Bachmann win in Iowa seem as inevitable as a Hillary Clinton Democratic nomination looked in 2007.

Bachmann loved the Iowa evangelicals, and they loved her (and Ron Paul). All the others were afterthoughts.

But then Perry came and went, Trump and Cain rose and fell, and Gingrich has been doing his stunt pilot daredevil act. Somehow Bachmann became, well, an afterthought. I can't say whether it was her gaffes, her gender, or perhaps in some deep, dark and highly suppressed corner of what passes for the wingnut mind there is a nagging suspicion that the general electorate might think that Bachmann belongs in a padded cell rather than the Oval Office.

Whatever, each new Republican suitor has either been googled and found to have a shady history, or has gotten drunk and vomited on the first date. That leaves the R-man (whose name and religion shall not be named!), Ron Paul (who never completely fits in any cubbyhole) and the untrustworthy and erratic Gingrich sucking up all the air in the state. Tough times for people who just want a simple fundamentalist zealot to waltz into the White House and make things right again.

So what's a wingnut to do? Well, consolidate support for your favorite True Christian candidate and hope that the false prophets flame out. So let's all go and vote for Michele Bachmann Rick Santorum! Wait, what? Santorum? He's an afterthought's afterthought!  Who said that? Why, Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Family Leader and Chuck Hurley, president of Iowa Family Policy Center, two unimpeachably True Christian organizations. What's more, Vander Plaats reportedly asked Bachmann to merge her campaign with that of Santorum. The Congresswoman declined and brought our her own endorser, Tamara Scott, Iowa director for Concerned Women of America.

So let's review the bidding. Michele Bachmann works very hard all year to make herself a household name among Iowa Republicans. She has considerable success, when suddenly a series of head-of-family-by-divine-right types (i.e., men) come in and take it all away from her. And to add insult to injury, she is asked to subordinate herself to one of them. and a pretty pathetic candidate at that. It's enough to make a strong, True Christian woman question her authoritarian values. She might be shouting betrayal if her voice weren't shot from campaigning (the Lord is Merciful).

And really, the Family Leader and Iowa Family Policy Center folks must be pretty damned darned desperate to be putting all their eggs in a Rick Santorum basket. Quite a demotion from being kingmakers to calling a Hail Mary pass by the third-string quarterback.

Hollywood couldn't write stuff this good.

Originally posted to A Mad Mad World on Sun Dec 25, 2011 at 08:20 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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