Hardball host Chris Matthews honestly believes that Rep. Michele Bachmann's "devil's in the details" joke about Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan may be something more sinister, or at least cynically calculated to appeal to "strange, far right" Christian voters.
"Well, last night, Congressman and David, they were supposed to stick to economics, but of course Michele Bachmann couldn't avoid religious concerns," the MSNBC host complained to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and David Corn of the left-wing magazine Mother Jones on his October 12 program. [MP3 audio available here for download; Video follow page break]
"Here she is passing what even my producers think was a joke, I don't think so, talking about the sign of the beast, which I learned from some of these characters is apparently 9-9-9, Herman Cain's economic program turned upside-down, 6-6-6," Matthews prefaced the debate sound bite, insisting, "This is Michele Bachmann, desperate."
"What would you say if you were debating a person like that who shifted the topic to the strange, far-right Christian notions about the devil and the sign of the beast?" Matthews asked Frank, adding, "She can't resist that catnip," suggesting that Bachmann was making a play for folks who may somehow think Cain's tax plan is downright satanic.
Later in the segment, Corn agreed with Matthews's loopy view:
DAVID CORN, Mother Jones: I think there's a slight chance, maybe more than slight, that Michele Bachmann really believes this.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: The sign of the beast. That Herman Cain is the anti-Christ.
CORN: That, perhaps. I mean, she has said so many outlandish things over the years, and she has a very fundamental view of the world, she has a very conspiratorial view of the world.
Next time you get her on the show, ask her about Agenda 21. She believes in black helicopters and everything leading up to the Rapture. So it's not inconceivable that this wasn't a joke.