America Needs a New Outrage Machine
Yesterday Michele Bachmann—the Republican congresswoman from Minnesota who has been called “controversial,” among other adjectives—announced that she wouldn’t seek a fifth term in the House of Representatives. She was potentially facing an ethics investigation into her campaign spending in the last election cycle, and she only won by a couple percentage points last time, so it’s not surprising she ducked out when she did—she’s basically quitting before she can get fired.
Bachmann being Bachmann, she didn’t frame it that way. In an eight-minute video on her website, the only concrete reason she gave for leaving her post was, “Eight years is also long enough for an individual to serve as a representative for a specific congressional district.” She went on:
I fully anticipate the mainstream liberal media to put a detrimental spin on my decision not to seek a fifth term. Since I was first elected to Congress many years ago, they always seem to attempt to find a dishonest way to disparage me. But I take being the focus of their attention and disparagement as a true compliment of my public service effectiveness.
About that “public service effectiveness”—in her role as a legislator, she did essentially nothing. Of the 58 bills she sponsored in her six years (and counting) in the House, exactly one passed and got sent to the Senate, and that was one of the many bills with the goal of repealing Obamacare that have no chance of becoming law.
Bachmann’s role in the political ecosystem has nothing to do with laws though, and hardly anything to do with policy. Her job is to be crazy, and she’s amazingly good at it.