Picture space as a balloon with pennies stuck all over the surface. The balloon surface is the space-time manifold that we know; the pennies are points within that manifold. Now inflate the balloon a little more, so that all the pennies move apart. This is the expansion of the universe that has been occurring at nearly the speed of light for the last six billion years. Now inflate the balloon even more, until it pops and you accidentally inhale several pennies, plus balloon parts and glue. Wave your arms. Suck gallons of Coca-Cola into your lungs in an attempt to dissolve the pennies, until you pass out and hit your head on the toilet. Did you see the explosion of white stars? That is the best analogy we have for the extradimensional space known as the inside of Michele Bachmann’s head. It is a white-hot field that our instruments cannot penetrate, and it is in trouble.
That Star-Tribune report is hampered by Glen Stubbe’s um, minimalist style, and by the fact that Bachmann and her aides quickly moved to block reporters and usher the congresswoman out of the room. This was at a press conference that she herself called, along with Minnesota state senator Sean Nienow, in order to discuss Medicare reimbursement rates.
The reporters present did not want to talk about that. They wanted to talk about this Office of Congressional Ethics investigation into Bachmann’s 2012 campaign, which is kind of a touchy subject. The OCE may allege that Bachmann illegally paid her staffers using PAC funds. The investigation mostly centers on her national campaign political director and her Iowa campaign chairman.
Questions about Bachmann will focus on what she knew about what those men did, which is dangerous territory. As the astronomers who study the inside of Bachmann’s head are well aware, Bachmann knows plenty about everything, especially subjects about which she has no information. Her innocence of any ethical wrongdoing in this campaign finance thing could result in her spilling the beans to everybody—about the PAC money, the management of her campaign, the Lindbergh baby, everything.
That’s no damn good, obviously. Her aides’ decision to G her TFO of her own press conference before she had a chance to answer questions from reporters was therefore wise strategy, in addition to maybe being a metaphor for the current state of her political career. The Daily Beast puts it nicely, if damningly:
The emergence of still another investigation tied to Bachmann’s presidential misadventure is the latest hit in what’s been a slow-motion crash for an unusually irresponsible politician who’d briefly emerged as a national figure with White House ambitions.
“Unusually irresponsible” is perhaps the best way to describe Bachmann, who currently holds the distinction of garnering the most “pants on fire” ratings from PolitFact. In the years after Obama’s election, Bachmann led the field in the burgeoning but already quaint industry of Just Sayin’ Stuff. She had a knack for telling very conservative voters what they wanted to hear, which is to say she had no knack at all for speaking but a willingness to say whatever might work. After a close election in November and a burgeoning ethics investigation, the era when that was Bachmann’s killer app might be drawing to a close.
It would be hard for me to argue that’s a bad thing, but I will be kind of sad to see her go. She was that most satisfying breed of huckster in American politics: the liar who consistently overestimates her ability to lie. From her weirdly emphatic speech patterns to her absurd belief that she could be elected President, Bachmann always seemed to be 10% more certain we bought it than we were. Listening to her speak was like going along with a child’s April Fools prank. “Now look way into the back of the refrigerator,” she would say, and we would do it sort of bemusedly, only to hear her mutter what an asshole behind us.
Now those days are drawing to a close. Maybe she will sweep to electoral victory in 2014, but I suspect that we are seeing the last act of Citizen Bachmann. Maybe it will end in ignominious ethics violation. Maybe she will simply lose her remaining momentum as a darling of the right, as those voters continue to realize that A) things really aren’t as bad as Bachmann, Beck et al were saying and B) saying all that didn’t make them any better. The end of a demagogue’s career is something to behold. Fire up your radio telescopes, Bachmann’s head scientists, because sooner or later the nova will collapse.