The XX Factor

Bachmann’s Surge Won’t Last

It’s been a great week for everyone’s favorite wild-eyed Tea Party Caucus leader, Michele Bachmann.  First, the Minnesota representative gave a stunningly competent performance at Monday night’s GOP debate. Then news broke yesterday that she inked a deal with the Penguin Group to write a memoir, which-along with her not-at-all-ironic appointment to the House Intelligence Committee-is de rigeur for a serious White House hopeful. Now she’s tied for second with Ron Paul in the heavily libertarian early primary state of New Hampshire.

According to a Magellan poll, Republicans in the Granite State still favor Mitt Romney, giving him 42 percent of the vote, but both Bachmann and Paul received a non-trivial 10 percent. The margin narrowed dramatically for self-identified conservatives. When asked who had the strongest debate performance, 37 percent chose Romney and 33 percent chose Bachmann. And those are just the numbers among sensible, flinty New Hampshire Republicans. According to a national survey of GOP primary voters, Bachmann commands a whopping 19 percent of the vote. Romney received 33 percent and Herman Cain placed third with 10 percent.

Bachmann should enjoy this surge while it lasts. The Minnesota congresswoman has such a long history of batty remarks, it’s just a matter of time before she unintentionally blames gays and Satanists for our country’s record levels of unemployment. When you type her name into Google, the top suggested query is “Michele Bachmann quotes,” a reference to one of the many compilations of her “craziest” turns of phrase . Over the years she’s claimed that judges instruct children to try homosexuality, that Obama caused the swine flu outbreak, and, of course, that The Lion King is a form of gay propaganda . Just this week a report surfaced that Bachmann freaked out and called the cops on an ex-nun who was trying to speak with her about gay rights. There was also a highly unflattering Daily Beast profile of her husband and close adviser Marcus, a Christian “therapist” who lectures pastors on the evils of the “homosexual agenda” and has called gays “barbarians” who need to be “educated” and “disciplined.”

Bachmann may have emerged from Monday’s debate as the “nutty front-runner,” but given her past as the loosest of loose cannons, the congresswoman’s lead will likely fade once she has the opportunity to open her mouth outside the controlled setting of a sober CNN-sponsored debate.