Political Animal


August 15, 2011 8:00 AM Bachmann isn’t even an effective lawmaker

By Steve Benen

When making the case against Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, her critics tend to focus on her policy positions and agenda: she’s an oft-confused extremist on so many issues, Bachmann has few rivals in Washington.

But what sometimes goes overlooked is the fact that Bachmann, after six years as a state legislator and five years as a congresswoman, just isn’t good at her job. Matt Taibbi recently explained, “[G]etting herself elected is pretty much the only thing she has accomplished in politics. That’s not an exaggeration: As both a state senator and a congresswoman, Michele Bachmann has never passed a piece of meaningful legislation.”

With that in mind, CNN’s Candy Crowley, to her credit, asked a question that Bachmann hasn’t heard nearly enough: “What do you consider your greatest legislative accomplishment? I know you blocked things, and been at the head of the spear for stopping things, but when you look at your legislative accomplishments, what is what you brag about most?” Bachmann struggled to answer.

“Well, what I brag about most, I think, is what we were able to accomplish when I was in Minnesota. We had education reform. That’s where I cut my teeth in politics. We were actually able to change the system in Minnesota with education reform.

“In Washington, D.C., Nancy Pelosi has been the Speaker of the House for the bulk of the time that I have been in the House. She wasn’t interested in my pro-growth agenda. So I couldn’t get that through the Congress.”

So, after nearly 12 years as a lawmaker, Bachmann’s biggest “accomplishment” was an education bill in a state legislature — which wasn’t even her bill.

As for her congressional career, it’s true that about two-thirds of her tenure occurred under a Democratic majority, but (a) she could have been willing to compromise and play a constructive role, even under Speaker Pelosi; and (b) it doesn’t change the fact that her pre-presidential-candidate career is accomplishment-free.

Indeed, Politico recently noted, “Bachmann has never had a bill or resolution she’s sponsored signed into law, and she’s never wielded a committee gavel, either at the full or subcommittee level. Bachmann’s amendments and bills have rarely been considered by any committee, even with the House under GOP control.”

Those who follow DC closely know why this is: Bachmann is widely considered a loon — even by her own Republican colleagues who fought like hell to prevent her from joining the House GOP leadership. She’s chosen a specific role on Capitol Hill, and it’s the role of a partisan, right-wing bomb-thrower, not a policymaker.

It’s likely Bachmann’s supporters won’t care about this at all, but as the radical Minnesotan solidifies her position as a top-tier presidential candidate, the fact that she has more experience crouching in bushes spying on gay-rights activists than actually passing legislation probably deserves some additional media scrutiny.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on August 15, 2011 8:06 AM:

    Accomplishments are elitist.

    Obstruction is patriotic.

    And the fact that she hasn't done anything, means that there's so much more she can do.

    Remember, George W. Bush was the MBA President who never successfully ran any businesses.

  • efgoldman on August 15, 2011 8:10 AM:


    capthca invecti GRB's (yes, really!)

  • walt on August 15, 2011 8:13 AM:

    If you're a Republican, accomplishment means burning down the house. We gave a bunch of crazed zealots matches and liquor and this is the result.

    Thank you, wealthy elite and news media.

  • berttheclock on August 15, 2011 8:14 AM:

    Steve, you add "It's likely Bachmann supporters won't care about this at all". Likely???

    Vegas has taken it off the books. Her supporters are of the "We don't need no stinkin' facts" ilk.

  • Danp on August 15, 2011 8:14 AM:

    She sponsored the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act. I think it was while she was on the intelligence committee and it was her contribution to redefining "intelligence". Just sayin'.

  • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© on August 15, 2011 8:17 AM:

    She’s chosen a specific role on Capitol Hill, and it’s the role of a partisan, right-wing bomb-thrower, not a policymaker.

    That describes all the GOP at this point. Too bad we don't the Democratic party interested in providing an alternative to feting the corporations and screwing everybody else.

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on August 15, 2011 8:19 AM:

    As opposed to Perry all hat no cattle , we have all cheese head no brain . Big buzz Michele , 5000 mugwumps in a corn pasture think you're just swell. The rest of the planet , not so much . You are a stupid stupid woman and we have the tape to prove it . Please run as you have been kind enough to write our ads for us.

  • berttheclock on August 15, 2011 8:19 AM:

    @cundgulag, did you run out of momentum, supra?

    May I add two words to your last comment. "Remember, George W Bush was the MBA President who never ran successfully any business or government"

  • berttheclock on August 15, 2011 8:22 AM:

    "Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act", otherwise, known as "Everyone has the God given right to waste both his or her money and energy Act".

  • Live Free or Die on August 15, 2011 8:24 AM:

    Since when has accomplishing anything stopped anybody from running for President.

  • Grumpy on August 15, 2011 8:25 AM:

    Bachmann is widely considered a loon...

    State bird of Minnesota!

    sick: "...all cheese head no brain..."

    Let's not drag Wisconsin into this, shall we?

  • max on August 15, 2011 8:36 AM:

    Bachmann's appearance on "Meet the Press" was also awful, but even more so for David Gregory than Bachmann. Bachmann just repeats lies with that glazed look on her face. Although I expect very little from Gregory at this point he should at least have refuted her lie about not receiving federal farm subsidies. All of us who worked for the federal government filled out those disclosure forms every year. He should have had copies of those documents in his lap. TV journalism is at an all time low in heavy trading.

  • Thymezone on August 15, 2011 8:39 AM:

    Bachmann is not a serious contender for president. Pretty much everyone who is not a TP Kool-Aid drinker knows that.

    I don't think she wants to be a real candidate, do the work, endure the hardships, and worst of all, actually win and have to govern something. I think what she wants is what you talked about in the piece ... she wants to be taken more seriously by her party. Not as a person who can govern or craft legislation, or work with others ... but a person who bring political "juice" into the building with her. She wants respect, and the core traditional GOP doesn't want to give it to her.

    She won't be around at the end of the convention unless Romney wins and decides that he, like John McCain, needs something flashy to pull in the nut fringe of the party, and picks her as a running mate.

  • Kathryn on August 15, 2011 8:45 AM:

    David Gregory is the worst and why NBC saw fit to elevate him to Tim Russert's job, I can't imagine. He's smug, self important, lazy and who can forget the sight of him clowning with Karl Rove at the correspondent's dinner. Think I send another futile complaint letter to NBC management later today and use Max's point.

  • DAY on August 15, 2011 8:46 AM:

    There are three questions every voter must themselves as they enter the booth:

    (1) Do I want this person's finger on the nuclear trigger?

    (the other two questions don't matter)

  • berttheclock on August 15, 2011 9:31 AM:

    At least in Canada, one may spend a loonie. However, the Common Loon does emote sort of an eeire yodel. Does the Common Loon male do the hop hop hop, as well?

    But, to paraphrase an old ad from a beer commercial, "From the Land of sky blue waters, no, she is not refreshing".

  • Zorro on August 15, 2011 9:54 AM:

    What c u n g gulag said.

    Plus this: in today's GOP, being conspicuously stupid is, in and of itself, considered to be a qualification for higher office. It's tough to explain the political careers of Sarah Palin or George W. Bush in any other way.


  • robert on August 15, 2011 10:36 AM:

    Bachman is scary crazy (very crazy) and her resume folder is empty. Her law school 'education'/'training' from Biblical U. is a bad joke. Her work experience is virtually zero. She is also a congenital liar.

    The Rethug ticket will be Romney/Bachman or Perry/Bachman. (Talk about scary!) The Rethugs will put her a potential 'heartbeat' from the Presidency because they are desperate to win and, Hell, they did it with Quail and the country survived. She will take it because in the end she is more desperate for attention than the most desperate politico.

  • Texas Aggie on August 15, 2011 12:29 PM:

    Let's not drag Wisconsin into this, shall we?

    Yes, don't blame Wisconsin for Minnesota's sins. They've got enough on their platter right now without being blamed for her.

    I lived in northcentral Wisconsin for four years, and while there were a few idiots running around, Bachmann would have been in a category all by herself.

    By the way, speaking of northern Wisconsin, recently there was a video of a road kill in Minnesota that people can't identify and are trying to claim it's a chupacabra. This is utterly ridiculous because any cheese head could readily identify it as a juvenile hodag, a vicious carnivore that used to be fairly common in the forests of northern Wisconsin until the place was deforested by Paul Bunyan. They survived in some of the remaining forest patches and now that family farms are disappearing and being overgrown with trees and the deer (their favorite prey) population is increasing, they are making a comeback and are now on the threatened list rather than in danger of extinction. For more information and a picture of a stuffed hodag, contact Rhinelander High School,


  • Jurgan on August 15, 2011 1:31 PM:

    Sounds like she's the right's answer to Dennis Kucinich- talks a good game and gets the base fired up, but has never really accomplished much concrete. (I like Kucinich, by the way, and think he's got some good ideas, but at least in Congress he's never really done much to speak of.)

  • Roger Ailes on August 15, 2011 7:01 PM:

    Hamm's, the beer refreshing,
    Hamm's, the beer refreshing,