It’s great news for the nation that Michele Bachmann, the tea-partying fact-polluting hysteric, is pulling a Palin and quitting elective politics. But she’s not going anywhere. There’s lots of room for noxious noisemakers in the conservative entertainment complex.
She can sustain a career – indeed, she can greatly enhance it financially – without situating herself on Capitol Hill. She has never been much of a legislator, anyway. I checked her record on govtrack.us, and it’s abysmal: In her six and a half years in the House, she has sponsored 58 bills, none of which have been signed into law. Only one of her bills (a worthless repeal-Obamacare gesture) has ever passed the chamber. She has managed, however, to cajole colleagues into endorsing three of her resolutions, most notably her celebratory message about Minnesota’s 150th birthday.
Bachmann insists that she could’ve stayed in the House as long as she wanted. In her farewell announcement yesterday, she said: “Rest assured, my decision was not in any way influenced by any concerns about my being reelected to Congress” in 2014.
Permit me to translate: Rest assured, her decision was in every way influenced by concerns about being reelected to Congress in 2014.
Bachmann is bailing on elective politics because she didn’t want to bow as a loser. Last November, running as a three-term incumbent in her supposedly safe district, she eked out a win by less than 5000 votes. The guy she defeated currently tops her by two points in 2014 matchup polls. And, most importantly, she’s currently being probed by the FBI and three other government bodies for alleged campaign finance violations stemming from her disastrous presidential bid. (The bid that died at the starting gate, in Iowa.)
It’s no surprise that she’d lie in a video about her elective prospects, given her longtime fondness for the counterfactual. This is someone who stated that the Founding Fathers worked “tirelessly” to abolish slavery, and confused John Adams with John Quincy Adams; who stated without a shred of proof that the popular HPV vaccine causes mental retardation; who stated without a shred of proof that Obamacare will “literally kill” people; who stated without a shred of proof that a Hillary Clinton aide had links to Muslim terrorists; who says that God is fomenting hurricanes because He’s upset about federal spending; who says that the Census-takers are collecting info so that the feds can more easily ship people to internment camps; who once wished Elvis “happy birthday” on the anniversary of the day he died…this woman is the Fact Checkers Full Employment Act.
But none of that should impede her future.
David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, lamented last November that “Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex” – where Bachmann will likely be welcomed. She doesn’t need to be in Congress, any more than Sarah Palin needed to complete a single term as governor; instead, Bachmann can enjoy the fulsome fruits of what liberal commentator Joan Walsh calls “wingnut welfare.”
Bachmann can carve out a life on cable TV, on the speaker circuit, and on the fundraising trail. She can “write” “books” for the kind of readers who think that Ann Coulter is an intellectual. She can set up a PAC and blast people with daily emails, like Rick Santorum does. She can rent out her email lists. She can hire herself out as a lobbyist (thank you, Onion). All told, she can reinvent herself as a cottage industry, in the manner of Newt Gingrich – whose elective political career imploded in 1998, but who has since transformed himself into a multi-platform bloviator.
It’s easy stuff, the pay is lucrative, and she’d be preaching to the credulous choir. Is this a great country, or what?
She was potentially accurate, in her video yesterday, when she described her future as “full” and “limitless,” although I do wonder whether even Fox News would sign her. The infauxtainment bulwark has lately sought to shed its most egregious contributors – notably, Palin and Dick Morris – and it has tangled with Bachmann on occasion, like when Sean Hannity asked her to substantiate her claim that the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation, and she replied: “I have no idea.”
But if there’s room out in the world for the likes of Glenn Beck (who reportedly earned $32 million in 2009), surely there’s a niche for Bachmann. What a great deal, to rant from the sidelines with no need to be held accountable – although some prominent conservatives, like Bill Kristol, are displeased about this aspect of our contemporary culture. Kristol wrote last winter: “One is reminded of Eric Hoffer’s remark, ‘Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.’ It may be that major parts of American conservatism have become a racket…”
Bachmann should fit right in.
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