Bachmann, like Palin, is a natural dog whistler. In politics, a dog whistle refers to a coded message meant to appeal to certain constituencies while flying right past the general public. A classic recent example was George W. Bush’s saying in a 2004 debate that he wouldn’t appoint anyone to the Supreme Court who supported the Dred Scott decision. This peculiar reference to an 1857 slavery case was meant to signal right-to-lifers that opposition to Roe v. Wade was a litmus test for Bush.
Bachmann is dog whistling when she pledges to “take back America.” The question this raises is: from whom? From a “socialist” president?
Let’s give Bachmann the benefit of the doubt and stipulate that no racial message was intended. A subliminal racial message, among others, will still likely be received. “Take back America” is also a dog whistle for “Take America back” -- back to a better time before a man like Barack Obama was president. Before, say, the number of Hispanics taking the national history assessment test in eighth-grade more than doubled in a mere five years.
And about Bachmann's reading of Gore Vidal's historical novels:
Bachmann's simplistic view of Vidal's novels (she's cited both 1876 and Burr, only one of which has to do with our Founding Fathers) reveals her mindset--folks are big on the not-new but once-academic term "worldview" these days. It is a mindset that that also allows her to be comforted in her pre-scientific conservative evangelical religiosity. She hadn't the sense or ability to read an imaginary first-person narrative as being subjective, even purposefully untrustworthy through the novelist's craft. (An elderly Aaron Burr provides that perspective in Burr, Charles Schuyler in 1876, and both characters are clearly flawed, each a mix informed insight but also bias.) It's Literature 101 kind of stuff, and she didn't even get it.
Epistemological fundamentalism doesn't mesh as well with subtly, diversity, or compromise as it does with literalism, pigeon-holing, and inflexibility. It's mindset as the electrician's comparator--a reality with only two modes on offer and completely committed to either one or the other. Such black-and-white thinking is not suited to the job of head of state of our republic in a complex global era.