What's next for Bachmann? One thing is unlikely: a quiet retirement. Here are some alternate possibilities.
Editor's note:MoJo's Tim Murphy compiled the list below as Bachmann began her presidential bid, after Fox News' Chris Wallace asked her if she was a flake. Murphy traveled to Minnesota to investigate Bachmann's rise through the ranks of conservative politics; read his profile of the congresswoman.
Sometime this month, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is expected to travel to Waterloo, Iowa, to officially announce her presidential candidacy. Her odds, while firmly in Hail Mary territory, are still better than you might think: With Republicans less than thrilled with the primary field, Bachmann stands at least a fighter's chance in socially conservative states like Iowa and South Carolina.
Now in just her third term in Congress, Bachmann, the leader of the House tea party caucus, has earned a reputation as one of the lower chamber's leading bomb-throwers, lobbing overheated rhetoric at Democrats and needling establishment Republicans. Her Minnesota colleague, Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison once accused her of "psycho talk"; in an interview with Politico, a Pawlenty aide was just as blunt: "She's a real pain in the ass." Former state Sen. Dean Johnson, who was the Republican minority leader during Bachmann's stint in St. Paul, has said, "I don't think I ever served with anybody who I mistrusted more, from either side of the aisle."
Ouch. Bachmann also has a tendency to stretch the truth, or simply sidestep it altogether. Bill Adair, editor of PolitiFact, recently told Minnesota Public Radio that he has never researched a Bachmann quote and found it to be true (the only major politician for which that's the case).
Here's an incomplete guide to Bachmann's greatest hits:
2001: In a letter she cowrote for the Minnesota-based Maple River Education Coalition, Bachmann warns that President Bush's education policies are leading the nation down the path to communism: "Government is implementing policies that will lead to poverty, not prosperity, by adopting the failed ideas of a state-planned and managed economy similar to that of the former Soviet Union."
2003: Bachmann, then a state senator, explains why she doesn't agree with the theory of evolution: "Where do we say that a cell became a blade of grass, which became a starfish, which became a cat, which became a donkey, which became a human being? There’s a real lack of evidence from change from actual species to a different type of species. That's where it's difficult to prove." Don't even get her started on how a bill becomes a law.
2003: Bachmann sends out a Christmas Card advertising the availability of her youngest son, Lucas: "Chick magnate [sic] needs wife to put him through med school, clean house, pay bills and run his life. Must be willing to gamble against onslaught of socialized medicine diminishing return on investment."
2004: With the country locked in a heated debate over gay marriage, Bachmann finds parallels in the Old Testament: "We're in a state of crisis where our nation is literally ripping apart at the seams right now, and lawlessness is occurring from one ocean to the other. And we're seeing the fulfillment of the Book of Judges here in our own time, where every man doing that which is right in his own eyes—in other words, anarchy."
2004: Songwriter Melissa Etheridge has breast cancer. That's bad news. But there's good news too, Bachmann tells the conservative education group EdWatch: maybe the cancer will give her time to reflect on her sinful lifestyle: "Unfortunately she is now suffering from breast cancer, so keep her in your prayers. This may be an opportunity for her now to be open to some spiritual things, now that she is suffering with that physical disease. She is a lesbian." In the same speech, she alleges that "almost all, if not all, individuals who have gone into the lifestyle have been abused at one time in their life, either by a male or by a female."
2005: Bachmann explains her opposition to the state's minimum wage as a form of job creation: "Literally, if we took away the minimum wage—if conceivably it was gone—we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level."
2006: Campaigning for a seat in the House, Bachmann delivers a five-minute prayer for You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, an anti-gay heavy metal ministry that promotes the gospel to public school students: "I thank you for how you are going to advance them from 260 schools a year, Lord, to 2,600 schools a year. Lord, we ask by faith that you would expand this ministry beyond anything the originators of this ministry could begin to think or imagine."
2007: In an interview with the St. Cloud Times, Bachmann drops a bombshell: Iran is planning on turning all of Northwest Iraq into a secret terrorist training camp: "Iran is the troublemaker trying to tip over apple carts all over Baghdad right now because they want America to pull out. And you know why? It's because they've already decided, that they're going to territory, they're- they're going to partition Iraq and half of Iraq, the western northern portion of Iraq is going to be called, the United, uh, the, the uh, -oh, I'm sorry, I can't remember the actual name of it now, but it's going to be called, um, uh, the, the, uh, uh the Iraq State of Islam, something like that."
2008: Just two weeks before election day, Bachmann calls for an investigation into the anti-American ambitions of Barack Obama and congressional Democrats: "What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-America or anti-America."
2008: Redundant Redundancies, vol. I: "The big thing we are working on now is the global warming hoax. It's all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax."