Political Animal


July 19, 2012 3:23 PM Bachmann: Too Crazy For GOP?

By Ed Kilgore

At Religion Dispatches today, Sarah Posner looks at the quagmire into which Rep. Michelle Bachmann seems to be sinking in her efforts to smear a State Department staffer and asks if it’s finally “the end” for the zany Minnesotan.

No question she’s been making a fool of herself in a way that is reminiscent of her tenacious and self-destructive pursuit in the fall of 2011 of the specious claim that the HPV vaccine Gardasil was linked to mental retardation. Now that her Islamophobic crusade against Huma Abadin has been denounced by Sen. John McCain and deplored by Speaker John Boehner, her career has clearly taken a turn for the worse.

But let’s not confuse her ability to embarrass GOP elites with any idea that she’s suddenly gone off the deep end, or is fundamentally too nuts to represent big elements of the conservative activist “base” of the GOP. Bachmann has been “out there” for years, making outrageous statements almost daily and embodying a brand of Christian Nationalism that is never more than a few steps away from hate-group ravings.

And moreover, even as her 2012 presidential campaign was imploding, Republican grassroots activists just plained liked her. I went back today and looked at a PPP survey done on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses, when Bachmann’s presidential bid was on life support (she would finish sixth in the Caucuses and drop out of the race the next day). She had the second best favorable/unfavorable ratings of any of the candidates (52/37, as opposed to Mitt Romney’s 48/44). The only candidate exceeding her popularity among the very-well informed Iowa GOP caucus-goers was Rick Santorum—you know, the guy who made news today by tweeting that John Sununu probably shouldn’t have apologized for saying the President of the United States needed to “learn how to be an American.”

Bachmann may have finally gone too far, but let’s not overinterpret her problems as indicating some sudden radicalism on her part, or some sudden moderation among conservatives.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • golack on July 19, 2012 3:36 PM:

    So the militia movement ended up settling down in her district?

  • enn bee on July 19, 2012 3:41 PM:

    Yes, Bachs**t crazy in "social" terms, and unsurprisingly also a fan of Randian style Austrian (Mises) economics. That the R-base likes her, and no fan base for equivalently insane Democrats exists, tells us what we need to know about Rebonklicans and also teh stupidity of false equivalence.

  • Josef K on July 19, 2012 3:43 PM:

    Alas, Bachmann is emblematic - not an outlier, not an exception - of the mainstream Republican party. She's fits right in, at least; I doubt she could successfully socialize anywhere else.

  • T2 on July 19, 2012 3:47 PM:

    Is she still a Swiss citizen?

  • Ed on July 19, 2012 3:49 PM:

    She is bat-shit crazy, but she is main-stream conservative though

  • Ron Byers on July 19, 2012 3:57 PM:

    John McCain and John Boehner are the politicians in trouble. Michelle Bachmann doesn't sound any more crazy than Rush Limbaugh. She sounds entirely mainstream to me. The two Johns have taken a giant step away from the heart of the Republican party.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on July 19, 2012 4:04 PM:

    She will be re-elected. If that isn't enough to tell you what state not only the country but the Democratic party is in, I don't know what is. Can't beat Michelle Bachmann? Man, oh man.

  • Cha on July 19, 2012 5:30 PM:

    Michelle Bachmann is no barometer for where the Democratic Party is. So she has a bunch of brainwashed idiots in her District..the Governor of Minnesota, Mark Pryor, is Democratic.

  • Doug on July 19, 2012 6:00 PM:

    I care less about whether or not Bachmann is too much for the current GOP. What matters is whether she's too much for that ever-growing number of recovering Republicans aka "independents".

  • MuddyLee on July 19, 2012 8:38 PM:

    It probably doesn't matter to the conservative base (aka the crazy conservative base, but that is redundant) that Bachmann has been criticized by John McCain. The criticism needs to come from Palin and Limbaugh and Hannity for the base to maybe turn against Bachmann. By the way, has any journalist ever interviewed any of her 20 something foster children to see what it was like living with the Bachmanns?

  • Sean Scallon on July 20, 2012 7:51 AM:

    "he only candidate exceeding her popularity among the very-well informed Iowa GOP caucus-goers was Rick Santorum."

    And it was Santorum who basically stole her vote right away from her. Once he was seen a credible candidate while she became incredible, the die was cast.

  • CharlieM on July 20, 2012 9:48 AM:

    "..a few steps away from hate group raving"?

    It *IS* hate group raving. She stands out because she's the most vocal.

    The modern Republican party has been built on the premise that hate groups have a "respectable" home there. That's why you have a Bachmann ranting on with this prattle. She's the spokesperson for that very significant portion of the populace that's white, bigoted and deeply resentful that they're forced to share political/economic power with minorities, women, etc.

    Barack Obama is that highly visible, immediate representation of this. That's why they've gone around the bend. Every day that he is president is a reminder to them that it's no longer "their" world.

  • Sean Scallon on July 20, 2012 1:21 PM:

    If there's no credible Independence Party candidate in her district to draw off voters who want to vote against her but not for the Democrat, then I think she's done enough (failed and embarrassing Presidential campaign, Swiss citizenship, being attacked by members of her own party) to warrant her vulnerability, even in her Red district and her millions at her disposal.

  • jlt on July 20, 2012 4:25 PM:


    This pitiful excuse for a congress person, m bachman, needs to be CENSURED on the FLOOR OF THE US HOUSE...and investigated thoroughly by Home Land Security! Call your US rep at their local offices and in the Congress..1,866.338.1015 and 1.866.220.0044 or 1.877.213.0603 or 1.866.311.3405 !

    Take names and keep a record..She continues to be a thorn to our freedoms and a threat to our citizens! Make sure you get to Boneher about getting her off the committee..She does not deserve the security clearance

    HLS has a website contact them too!

  • bluestatedon on July 20, 2012 9:35 PM:

    Every evening before I go to bed I get down on my knees and pray that Mitt Rmoney selects Michelle for his running mate.

    And I'm an atheist.