Sunday, September 4, 2011

Only a metaphor

Michele Bachmann walked back from statements she made the other day, to the effect that the recent East Coast earthquake and hurricane could be interpreted as a message from God to cut government spending. (See my previous post on this topic.) First she claimed these lines were just a joke, but in an interview with Bob Schieffer today she said her statements were meant to be taken metaphorically.  Bachmann said: "I’m a woman of faith and a woman of prayer, but the comment that I made right then was a metaphor. That was very simply what I was doing.” I'm not sure this statement answered Schieffer's question as to whether Bachmann believes that God uses the weather to send us messages about matters of public policy, but it's probably the best answer we're going to get.

I must say I find it reassuring that Michele Bachmann is not claiming that she knows the mind of God, and also that when she talks about God's political preferences, she might just be using God as a metaphor for people clamoring to reduce government spending. To me that shows a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of religion than a lot of people give Congresswoman Bachmann credit for. But how are Bachmann's supporters to know when to take her words about God's messages literally? Many of them do not believe that Noah's flood, for example, should be taken as a metaphor. They believe it actually happened just the way it is reported in the Bible.

Michele Bachmann is learning that she not only has to worry about how the media reports her speeches, she might also have to be more careful about how she talks to her supporters. Politicians have understood for a long time that when you invoke the Almighty, it's always best to be fairly vague about it.

(Top illustration by Rich Wakefield; bottom illustration by Mike Angelo)


  1. Ha! People ought to leave Michelle, Maxine Waters, Andre Carson and Jimmy Hoffa Jr alone! Whats wrong with some good metaphors?!

  2. I agree. Life is nothing but a search for the appropriate metaphor.