What Will Michele Bachmann Do Next?

As you know, Michele Bachmann, Congressperson for Minnesota's Sixth District, has announced that she will not seek re-election to her seat in Washington DC.

Bachmann almost lost her re-election to challenger Jim Graves last year. I'm convinced that had the election been held a few weeks later, Graves would have won. Recently, internal polling data from within Bachmann's campaign became known, and showed that as of a couple of weeks ago Bachmann was actually behind Graves. Bachmann's response to this polling was an ad buy; the Bachmann campaign started up early with local ads, clearly indicating one thing and strongly suggesting another. For one, Bachmann had decided to run for re-election as of several days ago. She bought campaign ads. That's pretty clear. Two weeks ago or less, Michele Bachmann was a candidate for re-election to the sixth district and was spending money on that campaign. This is a fact that must be taken into account in figuring out what is going on. The second thing this indicated was that she was nervous about the polling data and felt compelled to start early.

Then, suddenly, she announced that she would not be running. You don't decide to run for re-election and actually craft campaign ads and buy air time for the ads and put on the air if you are not running. "I'm Michele Bachmann and I approved this message" means, very clearly, that she was in fact running for re-election. Why, then, did she suddenly stop running for re-election? Even with poor polling numbers, this does not make sense. The polling numbers were not abysmal. She was about five points behind, very close to the margin of error. This is not a number that in and of itself would recommend abandoning a campaign. Also, the numbers were known to her campaign before the ad buy.

There are two other possible explanations for her withdraw, I think. One is that something bad is about to happen and she is bugging out before that occurs. The other is that she noticed that there was another office up for election and has decided to run for it. Let's examine those two possible explanations.

The most likely explanation for her withdraw is probably that her recent attempts to negotiate away a law suit being filed against her failed and she's about to be dragged into her own little Watergate, or other civil or criminal legal problems loom that her campaign knows more about than we do at present:

Someone from Michele Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign team stole an email list off of Barb Heki’s laptop. This list was from the evangelical home school organization for which Heki played a leadership role... She sued.


Today, the court scheduled the trial.

... and later that day Bachmann made her video bowing out of the campaign.

Is this what the "other shoe" that may or may not be about to drop looks like? Is this what the "other shoe" that may or may not be about to drop looks like?

There are other problems. The FBI is looking into Bachmann's campaign, for instance. So, it is reasonable to guess that another shoe ... related to any one of the pending law suits or investigations ... is about to drop, and it is not a dainty ballet slipper but rather one of those big-ass Mickey Mouse boots the Arctic division of the Airborne Army wears when they jump out of airplanes onto glaciers.

A second explanation is that Bachmann noticed that the Junior Senator from the State of Minnesota, Al Franken, is up for re-election and, at the time she made her plans to announce her withdraw, had no serious challengers. This is the preferred explanation among local Minnesota pundits. Why? Not because it is the best explanation, but because it is the coolest explanation. Al Franken only barely won his seat during the last election, but there are very specific reasons for that, and these reasons simply don't apply today. Senator Franken went from never having held elected office to being one of the most respected and effective Senators in Washington. How did he do that? He is a) very sincere about his public service and b) very smart. Well, also, his hard work and the excellent support from his family and staff and all that too. Bottom line: The people of Minnesota understand that Al Franken is a great senator and he will be re-elected.

Al Franken isn't just a great Senator, but he is also one of those guys we watch for the entertainment value, and I'm not referring here to his earlier career as a comedian satirist. Have you seen him in action? Here's an example. I would not have wanted to have been a grasshopper living in Little Al Franken's yard when he was a little boy in Ednia, Minnesota.

That was Subtle Al. Here's another:

Here's Al with a very smart witness trying to trip him up. Starts at about 1:27:

Not in chambers, about Fox, and reforming our Math education system at the same time:

And here is Al Franken eating a lawyer before lunch:

For comparison, here is Michele Bachmann:

Can you imagine it? A Franken-Bachmann campaign? Pure Political Squeee. Bwahahaha to the Nth power.

So, you can see that no matter how unlikely it may be that Michele Bachmann would actually have quit her seat in the house in order to run against Al Franken, we insist on keeping it on the table as a possibility because, well, it is something to live for.

There is a third possible explanation for Michele Bachmann's withdraw; A better offer from Fox or some other corporation. This has been suggested by various commenters but I think it unlikely. Yes, expect such a thing to occur at some time in the future, but I believe that Bachmann truly sees herself as a savior of The Constitution and will generally act with that motivation before other considerations. Of course, the first and third explanations can be linked. If she is facing high costs from impending legal battles, bowing out and getting a nice contract with Faux News would be the thing to do.

Finally, I would like to express my great relief that Bachmann is bowing out. It has been a great burden to me ... as the person who got her political career started, feeling responsible all these years for having created this particular horror. Now, finally, I'll be able to sleep nights.

Stay tuned. And, beware of falling boots.

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Mr Laden,
Sleep well. This was a great article. Thank you for taking the time to write and research it.

By Tim Williams (not verified) on 30 May 2013 #permalink

Bachmann always struck me as a not-so-bright, highly impressionable, cheerleader with a good memory. I knew a girl in school who was boundless in her sophistry, enthusiasm, and core innocence. Give her a two-page glossy advertisement outlining the selling points of a product, pretty much any product, and she could summon up endless enthusiasm and energy in selling that product. And she was completely re-programmable.

If told to cheer for one point-of-view she would give it all she had. But if told she would preach without hesitation the other side. And switch back and forth without any signs of conscience, internal conflict, or hesitation.

She was like a player piano. Slip another roll of music in and she could play any tune with equal enthusiasm. And if you don't give her music to play she had no well established preferences or views of her own.

Bachmann seems to me to be a relative blank slate. She has loads of enthusiasm and energy and she is just waiting to be given a a cause.

Unfortunately she also has no depth, curiosity, or incisive mental ability to back up the talking points on the glossy advertisement. She crumbles quickly if questioned closely and, because her entire argument comes down to a half-dozen bumper-sticker size talking points, she tends to contradict herself, look ridiculous, and come across as a simpleton.

This points to her fitting in well at Fox news. The danger is that Fox has taken on so many dopes that it is already something of a clown college in a fever dream. Putting the lady with the crazy eyes on the panel might be taking it too far.

@Art: The description you give is a better fit to Sarah Palin than to Michelle Bachmann. Palin always was a grifter. Bachmann is a True Believer. Both types will defend the talking points behind their chosen point of view and quickly tie themselves in rhetorical knots under close questioning. But unlike your friend, Bachmann really believes what she's saying. At least, I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 31 May 2013 #permalink


Nice article. I was always a fan of Franken's comedy, but I didn't know what to think about his foray into politics (not that I had any say either way, as he is not my senator).

I know you're a big supporter of his, but those were definitely good videos. It gave me an extra dose of respect for his integrity, at a minimum (I knew he was smart and funny). That's a rare quality in politics.

Initially, I supported him because he was running against one of the most evil politicians of our day, Norm Coleman, and I would have supported almost anyone doing that. But early in the process I met him and saw him give speeches etc. etc. and it did not take long to figure out that he's for real, and very good. So I volunteered for his campaign and for his recount effort, etc.

I don't know what I'll be doing next election but we do have a good up-down ticket system here, so I'll be door knocking and phone banking for one or two congressional candidates and Franken. That will probably abruptly end if I get hired by a campaign as a staffer. Then I'll disappear into a smoky back room and do smoky back room stuff for the rest of the campaign season.

Coleman wasn't as bad as I thought he'd be -- I think he was genuinely trying to do good things in the Senate. (Certainly he did less harm there than he did as governor.) Franken, meanwhile, I was very wary of. I didn't think he'd have any serious political depth, that he'd just be a statement about the inevitable defeat of the mess the Republican party has made of itself. But he's surprised me even more than Coleman did. He's been one of the best senators we've had, and a bipartisan to boot (always a good thing in my book). I plan on voting for him.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 04 Jun 2013 #permalink