The Rise and Fall of Michele Bachmann
Today we learned that Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is retiring, and as I’ve pointed out several times, 2014 is stacking up to be a tough GOP year. Michele Bachmann – darling of the GOP fringe Right, and top fundraiser for GOP congressional candidates in 2012 – just illustrated that point.
Let’s be clear: hers is a meteoric fall. A year ago, Michele Bachmann was running for president, standing on stage with the eventual nominee, taking wild swings at the President and everyone to the left of Genghis Kahn.
She had swagger and we all saw it. Forget ducking a debate with a teenager from Jersey, Bachmann felt like she was untouchable. Or, at least, she acted that way. Then she got touched … hard.
With a massive war chest – Politico says she raised $23 million — and the intense media bump brought in her run for President, in 2010, Bachmann stood to win her conservative district fairly easily. In fact, the district was made more conservative by gerrymandering. It sounds like a no brainer, but she didn’t win easily. She didn’t come close. 3,000 votes were all that separated her from Jim Graves — a challenger who I had to look up before writing this story.
That Graves pushed her to the point where it became clear she was unelectable is telling. Add to that both the ethics probe and her outlandish accusations against Sec. Hilary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, and you have a disaster.
The truth is, Michele Bachmann is a train wreck. She only has a passing acquaintance with the truth and only an elementary level understanding of basic civics and government. She was always a clown, in my opinion, but she had heft because of the money and the ability draw crowds. Bachmann represented a movement that the GOP has argued is here to stay.
The Tea Party had a spectacular run up to 2010 but since that high note they have be trending downward. Even that success was a combination of low turnout and dysfunction within the Democratic Caucus rather than Tea Party strength.
With 2014 looming and, according to Nate Silver, 15 out of 20 of the bottom-rated Governors in the country coming from the GOP ranks, and 14 of the bottom 15 being Republican, we find ourselves in an interesting moment.
I have long held that the Tea Party was doing two things very well, dragging the GOP to the extreme right with the threats of primary challenges and utterly destroying the GOP brand — both are artifacts of Bachmann’s tenure in congress.
She has made a contentious process in Washington unworkable. Her bizarre accusations and incendiary speech about Democrats, questioning the “Americanness” of an entire party and an entire people, coupled with her theocratic demagoguery makes her the poster child for both the Tea Party and the burnout that has become conservative politics.
Michele Bachmann’s rise and fall is a snapshot of history. Her rise came at moment of profound readjustment in the political discourse of this country; her fall comes as a denouement, the collapse of not just her own political aspirations but perhaps the beginning of the end for an entire party driven mad by the election of President Obama.
(Image courtesy of Newsweek)