Rachel Maddow thinks that Michele Bachmann was far more influential in shaping the agenda of the modern Republican party than people give her credit for.
She may have a valid point. Without Ms. Bachmann, would we now have people in the Senate like Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Mike Lee of Utah? (We will always have folks like Louis Gohmert, Virginia Foxx, and Steven King battering against the walls of Congress.)
As Ms. Maddow noted in her piece, Matt Taibbi warned us in 2011 against making fun of Michele Bachmann.
You will want to laugh, but don’t, because the secret of Bachmann’s success is that every time you laugh at her, she gets stronger.
Fortunately, his prediction did not come true; Michele Bachmann’s ride to national prominence was accompanied with the same laugh-track that followed Charlie Sheen’s career path, and the Mel Brooks method — laughter as the best weapon — did not enable her.
It was inevitable that we would have gotten the growth of the fringe-right even without the able assistance of Ms. Bachmann. That destiny was set long before she came on the scene in Congress. One can make the case that it started with the Republicans’ reaction to the election of Bill Clinton, or even as far back as the presidency of Ronald Reagan where the damp and fetid undergrowth of religious bigotry and patriarchy grew and spread as a response to Roe v. Wade and the progress of LGBT rights. The emergence of Barack Obama — a man who encapsulates every boogedy-boogedy stereotype of the Other and Liberalism that the GOP has been mustering since the defeat of Herbert Hoover — broke open the floodgates, and Ms. Bachmann, ever the opportunist, took full advantage of it.
As Edward R. Murrow once said about another prominent Republican, she did not create this situation, she merely exploited it — and rather successfully.