Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Crazy Afternoon

Michele Bachmann, retiring from the House one step of the ethics investigators and, most likely, her district's voters. Garance Franke-Ruta watches her announcement video; Jonathan Chait remembers some of her greatest hits.


1. No, she was never the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, or anything more than an extreme longshot.

2. Yes, she certainly did bring The Crazy. If she didn't really believe the things she said, she did an excellent job of acting as if she did.

3. No, it's not true that most Republican Members of the House are interchangably nuts. There's really only a small group, maybe only a handful, who share Bachmann's true dedication to The Crazy.

4. However, it's also true that sane conservatives in Congress are not only reluctant to criticize the Crazy Caucus, but are in many cases willing to borrow liberally (or perhaps I should say generously?) from things the Crazy Caucus comes up with or dredges up from Beck or chain emails or wherever.

5. More generally: to the extent that one of the big driving motivations for mainstream, sane conservative politicians is to avoid the "RINO" label -- and it appears that this motivation is quite strong -- they, the GOP-aligned press, and rank-and-file conservative voters give enormous power to the fringe Crazy Caucus.

6. That is, and to generalize: mainstream liberal Democrats try to differentiate themselves from the most extreme liberals in order to appeal to general election swing voters; mainstream conservative Republicans try to group themselves with the most extreme conservatives in order to appeal to primary election RINO-hunters, and have not found any way to cling to extreme but sane conservatives without also keeping fairly close to the Crazy Caucus.

7. Back to Bachmann: assuming she's not going to jail, Beck's network certainly seems like the logical destination for her. I've seen some twitter chatter about the possibility she may seek higher office, but it doesn't much matter; she's almost certainly never going to be elected statewide in Minnesota, and if she does run for president again she'll remain a fringe candidate with no realistic chance of doing anything more than (perhaps) crowding out other fringe candidates.

8. All bloggers will, naturally, miss her: our lonely eyes now turn to Louie Gohmert, and to the near-certainty that, as Sarah Posner points out, there will be others.


  1. I agree that her next stop will probably be Beck. She wouldn't last long on Fox News.

  2. Michelle Bachmann is retiring to spend more time sending insane e-mails to her family. But Marcus will still handle most of the shoe purchases.

  3. Obviously the victim of a political Death Panel.

  4. If bloggers miss her and her Crazy, they can just follow the center of the Democratic party: the Congressional Black Caucus. A bigger pack of openly criminal, lying, and idiotic politicians would be hard to find.

    I realize that their victim status (guffaw) makes it hard to criticize them, but they're always doing and saying crazy crap. So if prog media types would like to do their jobs for once, the CBC is always waiting.

  5. The main impact of her leaving is that Republicans are likely to hold onto the MN 6th district, which a mainstream conservative should be able to hold with little difficulty. The district went for Romney by 15%, it is easily the most Republican district in Minnesota, and Bachmann won it as a six year incumbent in 2012 by only 1.2%! She is clearly a weak general election candidate in the outer northern suburbs of the Twin Cities, and with her leaving electoral politics, one of the mainstream conservative state legislators in the 6th district should be able to have a long House career there.

  6. I've noticed this too. Democratic Representatives tend to defect from the right, and Republican Representatives tend to defect from the right. Only a rare vote, or so it seems, has identifiably "moderate" Republicans voting with most Democrats, even though there are still Republicans in seemingly moderate districts.

    (Don Young has actually been one of the most moderate Republicans this session, by this standard, believe it or not.)

  7. She's retiring just a month after she took out Swiss citizenship, which she now shares with her husband.

    Didn't anybody tell her that Switzerland has stopped enforcing strict bank secrecy on hidden-money accounts?


  8. Was she ever the frontrunner? No.

    Did 24% of self-identified Republicans once tell a pollster that she was their top choice? Yes.

    Forget Bachmann. That 24% of Republicans at one time (OK, that's her high-water mark, and could have been a sample problem: let's be conservative and say 20%) said "my top choice for President is Michelle Bachmann" is a black mark on the party. The Dems have had (and have now) their own groups that one would rather weren't in the tent. But when 1/5th to 1/4th of your party is willing to say they would vote for a certifiable nutjob, you've got issues.

    1. Jesse Jackson won seven primaries and four caucuses in his 1988 presidential run. This must say something shocking about the democratic party.

      To repeat, if you want to look for nut jobs in national politics, go to the CBC. The words "nut job" won't be used very often because that's racist, but dems should start owning up to the existence of the base of their party.

    2. Not to mention that some of her supporters jumped on the Cain train, and I believe he was in the lead at one point.


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