Bye bye Bachmann

By Denis Storey


“Pack up all my cares and woes,
Here I go, singing low…”

Under the cover of night, Tea Party darling Michelle Bachmann announced she wouldn’t seek a fifth term in Minnesota’s sixth district. You can check out the video for yourself right here.

The timing is odd — which I suppose is perfectly in character — but who releases this kind of information essentially in the middle of the night? Sure, I understand her reluctance to hold a “normal” press conference given her Palin-esque relationship with the media, but couldn’t you go out with at least a little decorum? You are, after all, still a member of Congress.

It’s no secret I’ve never been much of a fan of hers, but before I beat up on her anymore — and I promise I’ll make this more a post-mortem than celebration — let’s look at the facts.

Based on the numbers over at, over four terms Bachmann sponsored 58 bills. Exactly five of those actually made it out of committee. And the House went on to pass just one of those, an attempt to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And I think you know what the Senate did with that bill.

Not the most impressive legislative record, which sparks a pair of immediate reactions for me.

One, why did the press take her so seriously — or at least give her so much airtime — when even the Republican leadership clearly didn’t? Oh, that’s right, she loved to go on television (before it turned against her) and make outrageous claims and accusations. It became increasingly hard to take her seriously, especially when she did so little at her actual job.

Which brings me to my second thought: She always reminded me of that embarrassing person we all know. C’mon, you know what I’m talking about. Whether it’s a co-worker, family member or “acquaintance,” we all have one of them in orbiting somewhere among our social circles. I worked with one years ago — let’s call her “Mavis”— who you never wanted to be at a client dinner with because you never knew what would come out of her mouth and when. It could be a cringe-worthy joke, a grating guffaw or a drunken pratfall — or any combination of the three.

That being said, you have to give her credit for recognizing the Tea Party movement before the GOP establishment did because it certainly extended her national profile far longer than her original 15 minutes and powered her presidential campaign — at least until Iowa.

Maybe I’m being too hard on her, but I think she did the party more harm than good, especially at a time when she would have struggled to win another term anyway, not to mention a presidential campaign increasingly under scrutiny amid accusations of financial malfeasance.

And I still think her heavy-handed focus on religious and cultural issues detracted from some probably legitimate fiscal arguments. The one just shadowed the other.

And let’s keep in mind that this is a party still doing some soul searching in light of the last presidential election. Priorities need to be reevaluated, the message better tailored and the “big tent” my Republican friend tells me about made a little bit bigger.

Bob Dole (remember him?) made headlines last weekend, I think it was, with a critique of today’s party, a place he certainly wouldn’t succeed in today. And if someone as accomplished as him couldn’t make the cut, does Bachmann really deserve to?

Originally published on