Bachmann in the Bathroom

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 6 2011 10:53 AM

Bachmann in the Bathroom

It's an unwritten law: If you profile Michele Bachmann, you mention the time she "ran screaming from a bathroom at a constituent forum, claiming that a lesbian had attempted to keep her there against her will." That's how Jason Horowitz puts it in his profile; Michelle Goldberg spent more time crafting the narrative in her profile.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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What the hell happened? The Dump Bachmann blog, which along with this City Pages profile is the source of 85.6%* of pre-fame Bachmann stories, reported the story first via an e-mail from two attendees.

Senator Bachmann retired to the restroom and residents began moving toward the exit. Less than a moment later, piercing screams were heard from the ladies' washroom. "Help!!!! HEEEELLLLLLPPPPPP!!!!!" With everyone's attention riveted on the door, Senator Bachmann emerged in a crouching run, crying, "I was being held against my will!" Two women were seen standing behind her, one tall and elderly, the other young and petite, both unassuming and bewildered.

The story snowballed. Bachmann filed a police report; local newspapers followed up and added the crucial detail that she fled "in a crouched position." While a lot of details about Bachmann's past seem normal to me (she told a church that she was "submissive" to her husband, like basically any evangelical Christian woman might say), this really was odd, and Horowitz is right -- it says something that gay marriage opposition plays basically no role in her presidential campaign. It was what defined her early career! To wit, here's a 2004 video warning Minnesotans of "polygamy and group marriage" on the horizon if gay marriage wasn't banned.

Bachmann's rise to national prominence is a result, in part, of social conservatism fading in significance and economic conservatism becoming the dominant political force in America. She's very lucky. But there's that whole "past" thing she has to worry about.

*I'm estimating.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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