COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- If you missed it yesterday, I trailed the Michele Bachmann juggernaut -- which has lost an awful lot of weight since August -- through central Iowa. How's she doing?
There are only a few audience questions. Nicole Cavreriva, a skeptical Democrat, asks how Bachmann will be more effective than President Obama at working with Congress.
“It’s been highly contentious,” nods Bachmann. “As a matter of fact, we’ve been threatened eight times this year with a government shutdown.” Is it the start of a mea culpa about how House Republicans have governed? No, it’s the start of Bachmann’s pledge to elect 13 Republican senators to break filibusters. A more sympathetic questioner asks her again: What if Republicans don’t win 13 seats. “O, ye of little faith!” says Bachmann.
“I guess it’s a logical answer,” shrugs Cavreriva after the speech. “She’s the new Margaret Thatcher. Who knew?”
Maggie Haberman has a whole lot more, going into great detail about how Bachmann, leading for a short while, blew it. The culprit is incompetence, and the crime occured right after Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll.
Perry stepped all over any momentum she gained by jumping into the race the same day as the straw poll. The next night, presented with an opportunity to get the better of her new rival from the South at a Blawk Hawk County GOP fundraising dinner, Bachmann refused to come out of her campaign bus and share the spotlight with him, despite entreaties from most of her advisers.
The news coverage of the event was not favorable. According to many Iowa politicos, it was the turning point for her campaign there. She seemed weak by comparison, and while she used the debates to soldier on, she has never reached the same heights again.
I'll buy this, but does it fully explain why she never recovered? My theory (read the damn article!) is that there has been a rarely-admitted fatigue with the Republican House, and its inability to get anything done unless there's last-minute stop-the-clock brinkmanship. Yes, Republican voters blame Barack Obama for most of this. But if being a Tea Party candidate in November 2010 meant taking Barack Obama's power away, in 2011, it started to mean that you were part of Washington machinery that was creaking and belching acrid smoke. Bachmann, a very good local politician, never strayed from her "record" of "leading the fight" against various Obama evils. But the evils passed. And "leading" didn't seem to improve anything in 2011.
(Photo: Bachmann talking to CNN from Nevada, Iowa.)