A convergence of stories last couple days taking Michele Bachmann seriously not just as a potential Iowa winner, but as a possible nominee.
Most significantly, Nate Silver weighs in with lots of graphs and numbers (being Nate Silver). The whole analysis is worth it but the tl;dr version is:
Imagine that Ms. Bachmann has won the Iowa caucuses while Mr. Romney has taken the New Hampshire primary, and the nomination is essentially up for grabs between them. As the contest shifts to a key state like Ohio or Pennsylvania, suppose that conservative Republicans split 60-30 in Ms. Bachmann’s favor (with a few voters opting for a hanger-on like Ron Paul), while moderate Republicans go 80-15 for Mr. Romney. Who is going to win?Jonathan Chait adds:
Turnout would be decisive. If two conservative Republicans cast ballots for every moderate Republican — roughly the ratio in 2008 — Mr. Romney would prevail by a couple of points. But if the turnout looks more like 2010, and there are three conservative Republicans at the polls for every moderate Republican, Ms. Bachmann would win by about six percentage points...
Many reporters have noted that a one-on-one matchup between Romney and Bachmann is Romney's dream scenario. That's true -- it's his best chance to have the establishment rally behind him. I haven't seen them mention that it's also Bachmann's dream scenario -- she gets to face off against an establishment candidate totally unacceptable to large segments of the party base.Bachmann was the fastest candidate yesterday to sign off on the famIly leader pledge, so fast she accidentally stabed Chuck Hurley in the hand with her pen. Most of the rest wimped out with no comments or mutterings about "studying it." Jon Huntsman totally punted by making a pledge not to sign pledges, adding: "I already told your whole state to piss off, so why do I care about what some guy who can't win a primary there thinks?" for good measure. (That's not a direct quote, but a reasonably likely transcript of the inner monologue.) Only Ron Paul had the gonads to say he had "reservations."
Now, the far greater danger to Bachmann is that she faces off against somebody other than Romney -- say, Rick Perry, or possibly even Paul Ryan -- who can appeal to right-wingers and party elites as well.
But back to Bachmann, it seems there is method to the seeming madness of her fast and loose interpretation of historic "facts." Spencer Critchley:
While Sarah Palin's eye-darting improvs fairly scream "I didn't do my homework," in all likelihood Bachmann did do her homework on this one. It's just that she's reading from a different text than most of us...
The rewriting of history is a natural, and even unavoidable, consequence of the absolutism on both religion and the Constitution that characterizes Tea Party Republicanism, of which Bachmann is now the figurehead. Such absolutism requires believing that the founding text of your creed is complete and perfect, and that its authors were infallible. When reality and belief collide, reality has to give way.
So if the Founders owned slaves, and the Constitution said that was fine, there are only a few choices:
1. Slavery actually wasn't all that bad, or
2. The Founders must have been trying to end slavery, and/or
3. There were more Founding Fathers than you think: we need to include that child prodigy John Quincy Adams.