Meanwhile, inside Michele Bachmann’s head

Before you get too excited, Michele Bachmann does not figure directly in the content of this post. Today’s post is about a poll, which subject poses a perennial problem in choosing a snappy header image. Polls look boring. This picture of Michele Bachmann, on the other hand, looks the opposite of boring, in that the longer you look at it the more hilarious it becomes. Try it. Are you imagining circus noises? A steadily growing pile of peanut shells? I have decided to make today’s poll part of an ongoing series, in which we examine visually uninteresting clues as to what we can know about being Michele Bachmann. I call it Meanwhile, Inside Michele Bachmann’s Head, and it’s happening now so you tacitly accept it.

Today’s scrap from the fabric of Bachmann’s atemporal headspace drifts in on the wind of Fox News, which poses to its readers the following question:

Senate and House supporters of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays serving in the military have reached a compromise agreement. With the U.S. engaged in two wars, and thousands of troops deployed in combat operations, is now the time to repeal this policy?

Fox here is running what is called an unscientific poll. The telltale identifier is that the question contains a couple of reasons why you should choose one particular answer, which is generally frowned upon in a lab setting, if you’re going be a dick about it. When we get to the answers, the nudge inherent in the question becomes a shove:

The beauty of Fox is that as you click around their site, the slogan “You Decide” continually accretes new layers of irony. In this case, Fox has courteously provided us with not just responses but also explanations, including one that makes “undecided” into an explicitly anti-Democrat position. I’m curious why the Democrats are in a rush on this one, too, what with all the other problems that need solving, and the only reason I can think of is that they themselves are gay. Also curious is who, exactly, read this poll, clicked on “I don’t care,” and then hit “vote.”

Let us assume that Fox News produced this poll for a reason, and expects an overwhelming response in the direction of “No—it’s irresponsible to take up this issue while our men and women are in harm’s way,” despite the catastrophic tactical error of having made the radio button default to “Yes.” So what is the purpose of this thing?

It cannot be to gather information, so it must fulfill the second purpose of the poll: to provide evidence. Of course, the evidence it provides is flimsy at best, but still Michele Bachmann* can go on TV and say that most Americans are against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t, Tell.** Her credibility is shot at this point—if Michele Bachmann told us to eat food, millions of Americans would starve to death—so it won’t be long before her numbers are refuted, but she will have given her constituents permission to believe that they are in the majority. Behold the primary function of Fox News.

Except our reasoning is flawed. “Let us assume that Fox News produced this poll for a reason,” is not a safe assumption at all. Most likely, this poll was written by some 23 year-old news intern who performs miscellaneous writing tasks everyone else’s time is too valuable to do, and he doesn’t understand how a scientific poll works at all. He’s just trying to get this thing done quick so he can go back to looking at Facebook, and he’s been so inundated with the kind of reasoning and surrounded by the kind of people that lead you to an internship at Fox News that those are the first reasons that popped into his head.

There it is! A glimpse into the head of Michele Bachmann, even now flashing away from us like a red bird over the horizon. It is not a machine so much as a universe, the way certain clouds of gas in astronomical space are said to resemble a computer. Does it reason, or is it stronger than reason? So many questions remain to be answered, and so few clues escape. Join us next time, a phrase which does not go very well with the title Meanwhile, Inside Michele Bachmann’s Head.

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  1. 1. My radio button didn’t default to anything. Must be your gay-rights-loving browser.
    2. How is it that 64 percent have answered yes? Are Fox News internautes unexpectedly hip to civil rights? Are a bunch of cranky left-wing bloggers sending their readers in to skew results? Or does Combat! on its own now command an audience of thousands?

    BTW: the French use the word internautes (without even smirking) and it is vastly preferable to “internet users”. Let’s adopt it, anglos.

  2. At a time when we have two wars and a volunteer army, it seems reasonable to me that only those willing to enlist should get to vote.

    <——idiote de l'ordi

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