The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Michele Bachmann, Neo-Confederate?

Posted on | July 2, 2011 | 35 Comments

Here’s an unexpected bonus of yesterday’s post about Michelle Goldberg’s rant against Mark Halperin: If you’ll watch video of Goldberg’s Democracy Now interview — Donald Douglas posted the video yesterday — she makes reference to Bachmann’s law school mentor John Eidsmoe, who was highlighted in a June 14 Daily Beast article Goldberg wrote:

Bachmann honed her view of the world after college, when she enrolled at the Coburn Law School at Oral Roberts University . . .
At Coburn, Bachmann studied with John Eidsmoe, who she recently described as “one of the professors who had a great influence on me.” . . .
In 2010, speaking [at] a rally celebrating Alabama’s secession from the Union, [Eidsmoe] claimed that Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun understood the Constitution better than Abraham Lincoln.

Say what you will, Eidsmoe is right about that. It has been pointed out (by the late Joe Sobran, among others) that there is no evidence that Lincoln ever read the Federalist papers. Lincoln had little formal education, and became a lawyer by “reading law” as the informal process of legal education was then called. By contrast, John C. Calhoun was Phi Beta Kappa at Yale, and Calhoun’s Disquisition on Government is one of the most profound treatises on constitutional theory ever written. Jefferson Davis was a precocious scholar who entered Kentucky’s Transylvania University when he was just 13, and graduated West Point at age 20. He later served as Secretary of War and was a U.S. Senator. Davis’s memoir Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government shows him to be a thoughtful and erudite student of constitutional principle.

Of course, Bachmann isn’t campaigning for the GOP nomination on a neo-Confederate platform, and Michelle Goldberg cites Eidsmoe’s recent activities merely as a guilt-by-association smear: How is Bachmann, who studied with Eidsmoe 25 years ago, to be held accountable for everything her former professor says today? Liberals considered it unfair to blame Obama for Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s demented ravings, when Obama sat in Wright’s pews for 20 years and named one of his books after the title of a Wright sermon.

But Goldberg’s article might actually help Bachmann in the campaign. One can easily imagine some good-old-boy Republicans in the key early primary state of South Carolina who, having previously disdained the Minnesota congresswoman as just another damned Yankee, discover Bachmann’s Eidsmoe connection to the Lost Cause and say, “Hot dang, fellers — she’s one of us!”


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