The Minnesota congresswoman, who was considered by many to be a fringe candidate up until recently, beat Romney in the most recent Iowa straw poll, and has a campaign that has been steadily gaining momentum. The Tea Party darling has been steadily building a strong grassroots movement that could propel her to the nomination.
As Bachmann has steadily been moving from a longshot like Santorum or Cain to a candidate with a serious shot at the title, she has gone to great lengths to position herself further to the center than many of her opponents perceive her to be. Bachmann has hired Ed Rollins, a former Huckabee campaign advisor, and she has steadily been raising money from big-time donors that will be crucial to mounting a full-fledged attack against the well-financed Romney.
But Bachmann is anything but mainstream. She’s a full-fledged nutjob, even by conservative standards.
Bachmann’s rhetoric in Congress reads like a list of things a homeless man screams at the top of his lungs. Bachmann has been a steadfast opponent of many environmental proposals on the grounds that global warming does not exist. She attacked the Americorps as a “re-education camp for young people.” And of the very few bills she has brought to the house floor, one was a proposal to restrict fluorescent lightbulbs on the grounds they cause mercury poisoning.
In her personal life, the Bachmanns have taken it upon themselves to adopt more than twenty-three foster children. Michelle’s husband Marcus runs a pray-out-the-gay camp where he attempts to “cure” homosexuals. And she believes she was called by God to run for president.
So how is it that an extremist like Bachman is catapulting her way to the top?
Bachmann is charismatic. She speaks her mind, she can captivate an audience, and she doesn’t follow the usual political mold. Bachman is a renegade; representing the voice of a sector of the American public that feels more and more marginalized in a changing world. Much of the Tea Party is a cultural resistance to a country that is changing more and more every day, and the more pressure there is to fall in line with the 21st century, the more they dig their heals in the ground. Michele Bachman’s views seem extreme to a certain segment of the country, but to another segment of the country, she’s a strong leader who speaks to their issues without fear of reprisal.
It’s for this reason many of Bachman’s more embarassing flubs on the campaign trail, such as her confusion over John Wayne, the Founding Fathers, and the shot heard around the world have failed to derail her shot at the nomination. Factual faux pas may be gold for her opponents, but the more reporters call her out for her mistakes, the more she can be seen as a victim of the liberal media to her base. If anything, her mistakes are a happy accident.
It’s still early in the election season. Bachman’s current appeal could be a fluke, and it’s entirely possible that her current momentum will run out of steam and she’ll retake her place with the Santorums and Gingrichs while the more serious candidates race to the nomination.
But the current political climate is highly unpredictable. If the economy gets worse and the political rhetoric dovetails with it, Americans, suffering a crisis in confidence, could make a grave mistake and put this looney in the White House.