Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Small Blessings

(Editorial cartoon by Steve Sack and published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune 7/20/12.  Click on image to enlarge and then return.)

We've heard a lot from right-wing women like Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin on Fox or the social media since the November election.  One person we haven't heard from, however, is Michele Bachmann.  The Tea Party Queen has held no press conferences on the Capitol steps, nor has she appeared on the Sunday Talk Shows.  What is up with that?  Her home state paper of record noticed the same silence and provides some possible answers.

Now the Minnesota Republican is hardly heard from anymore, barely uttering a word in public during the simmering build-up to the "fiscal cliff" deal in Congress, which she opposed.

Gone are the boisterous rallies opposing Obamacare, the rousing church testimonials and the controversial TV utterances about Islamist moles in government that raised money even as they rained down critical headlines.

Since her wafer-thin re-election in November in the state's most solidly Republican district, Bachmann has sharply dialed down her national profile, staying off television and remaining in the background of a raging congressional debate over taxes, her signature issue as a former IRS attorney and deficit hawk.

"She's been focused on her district," said Bachmann spokesman Dan Kotman, adding that the silence is deliberate. "She's doing listening sessions and reaching out to business folks and community leaders."

The silence also comes as a weakened Tea Party movement has been fractured by in-fighting and recrimination over reverses at the polls, not the least of which was the reelection of Barack Obama, Bachmann's political nemesis. ...

Her opponents acknowledge that Bachmann's new low profile is an astute political move.

"I think she learned that her quest for the presidency really cost her a lot of political capital in her district," said Minnesota DFL chairman Ken Martin. "She saw in her own polling -- as we did -- that something was going on in her district. So she doubled down and did what she needed to do to win the election."  [Emphasis added]

Imagine that:  after a year of ignoring her constituents in Minnesota and ignoring her duties in Washington DC, she almost lost her seat to a liberal, a seat in a very conservative district.  That had to get her handlers' attention, if not hers.  And while I'm not so sure that the Tea Party is on its last legs (most Republican congress critters are still scared to death by that group), it isn't difficult to believe that many of the conservatives in her district are tired of the clown show.

Do I think this silence will last?  Nope.  Michele Bachmann loves the limelight too much.

Do I think she will start behaving herself?  Nope.  Michele Bachmann won't be able to restrain herself when the vote on the debt ceiling and the votes on reducing the deficit.

In the meantime, however, I'm enjoying the silence.

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