Crazy worked really well for Bachmann for a while. Shea , theof it from small donors. Her most important message was to justify all-out opposition to Obama — otherwise, America would crumble. "If you look at FDR, LBJ, and Barack Obama, this is really the final leap to socialism," . "But we all know that we could turn this around and we can turn this around fairly quickly." She rallied against Obama's "gangster government" in April 2010, saying, "It's ." Bachmann rejected : "Racism is real. Racism is ugly. You hate racism, I hate racism,"in July 2010. Obama's spending showed his "infantilism," she said in September 2010, but on Election Day, " in our country."
Establishment Republicans didn't just like this message, they made it a strategy. over health care reform in 2009, they fought to stop it from passing. They failed. They tried to repeal it. They failed. They tried to get it overturned by the Supreme Court. They failed there, too. Stop Obama at all costs — that was the message of Republican leaders: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," Senate Minority Leader . House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called Obamacare "." And Bachmann pushed that message with conservative covers beautifully. Obamacare was "the ," she said in January 2011, foreshadowing the House's 37 votes to repeal it. Back the Tea Party, and by extension, the Republican Party, or watch the country be destroyed from the inside out: "We are at a time in our country when we are ," she said 11 months later in her presidential campaign.
That message helped sweep Republicans into a majority in the House in 2010. John Boehner rewarded her with an to the prestigious House Intelligence Committee in 2011. But between then and January 2013, when it looked like she , something happened: the 2012 election. In the Republican primary, Bachmann got a little too crazy. She floated conspiracy theories about vaccines causing mental retardation. There were questions of whether she revealed classified information in debates. She, like most of the other Republican candidates, was anti-immigration. Losing the Latino vote by 40 points helped cost Mitt Romney the White House that fall.
Bachmann had been very good at adapting to the shifting whims of conservative voters. Bachmann fashioned herself as a spokesman for the Tea Party, even though she was elected in 2006, before the Tea Party existed. Back then, she was a regular evangelical, , not taxes. In 2011, she blended them together, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network she was a "Teavangelical." "We should follow the Constitution, and I'm a believer in Jesus Christ, so I think that makes me a ," Bachmann said. But those positions made it impossible to adapt to the shifting whims of the establishment GOP, which has decided, since the 2012 election, to refashion itself as friendlier to Latinos, open to gays, and offering solutions for the middle class. The fear of Bachmann has become so great that Republicansthe Iowa Straw Poll, the contest that made Bachmann a serious presidential candidate when she won it in August 2011. The Republican National Committee wants a shorter primary with fewer debates -- the better to keep the Bachmanns at bay. Bachmann's star dimmed. Her Tea Party Caucusthis year. And now she's leaving public office. Meanwhile, establishment guys like Mitch McConnell, who benefitted from her crazy, are .