The Michele Bachmann Phenomenon -- crazy, extreme, formidable
I'm still on vacation, and enjoying it immensely (and trying not to pay too much attention to the news, even as the world economy crumbles yet further, day after disastrous day), but I can't resist posting on yet another fantastic political profile by Ryan Lizza at The New Yorker, this one on Michele Bachmann.
It's long but deserving of your time and attention.
We all need to understand better the phenomenon that is Bachmann, not least because she may win the Republican presidential nomination.
Mitt Romney remains the fairly clear frontrunner, but he may very well have a low ceiling of potential support, and, if Rick Perry isn't included (and he may or may not run), Bachmann is currently running a strong second. What's more, given Tim Pawlenty's weakness, she'll likely win this Saturday's Ames Straw Poll in Iowa, an influential barometer (at least for the media, but also for donors and, generally, for party undecideds), particularly if she does well, which she likely will (she is, after all, charismatic and engaging), in Thursday's GOP debate.
If Perry runs, she'll have a hard time securing the right-wing vote, assuming that Perry actually runs an effective campaign. Indeed, if she and Perry end up competing for that vote, Romney's path is made so much easier -- the nomination could then be his by default, with the right-wing vote split.
But if he doesn't, and if Sarah Palin stays out as well (as expected), and if the race turns into a Romney vs. Bachmann slugfest (as opposed to, say, a Pawlenty vs. Bachmann spat, which she crushes), who's to say that Bachmann wouldn't win? (She's got the right-wing bona fides, he doesn't. It might just be as simple as that.)
Anyway, enough horse-race speculation. Read Lizza's piece.
Here are the two high-level takeaways:
1. Bachmann is a crazy conservative ideologue and conspiracy theorist.
2. Bachmann has formidable political skills, has an impressive campaign operation, and is a serious contender for the nomination.
Crazy, extreme, and formidable.
Formidable because she's crazy and extreme.
Because being crazy and extreme is what makes you formidable on the right.