Being Crazy Pays

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 4 2010 2:18 PM

Being Crazy Pays

TPM has the first of what I expect to be many updates on the "crazy" Republican members of Congress elected in 2010. They spotlight the much-covered Allen West, the covered-as-a-kook Renee Ellmers, and the less-covered Vicky Hartzler and Tim Walberg. And in my cynical way I wonder if the success of Hartzler and Walberg will come in getting better known for their "craziness."

Let's go back in time. Michele Bachmann's fame dates back to a pre-election Hardball interview in which she speculated about investigating some Democrats for anti-American attitudes. Outraged Democrats (who were channeling their annoyance at the campaign against Obama, which sounded a bit like this) threw a million dollars at Bachmann's opponent, but he lost, and Bachmann became, like Palin, a woman who said what Republicans were thinking and was punished by the media for it. So instead of being weakened for a "gaffe," she became a fundraising and media dynamo.

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It's somewhat possible to see Ron Klein making a comeback if Allen West becomes a nationally famous conservative grenade-tosser, as opposed to the locally-famous grenade tosser he was in the district. But the other Republicans come from more conservative areas, and I don't see how becoming ThinkProgress targets will hurt them. (By the same token, if Alan Grayson represented Madison, Wisconsin instead of the nice parts of Orlando, he'd be headed back to DC now.)

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.