I think (Minnesota Congresswoman and Tea Party darling Michelle) Bachmann is a legitimate dark-horse possibility to win the nomination.
In no known universe does the fact-averse, conspiracy-laden, gaffe-prone Bachmann have a shot at winning the GOP nomination. Yes, the media adores her, as they do Palin, because she says nutty things but at some point her inconsistencies will doom her. For now, Bachmann performs like some demonic seal in front of adoring crowds of the similarly insane and the utterly delusional but if she is seriously to contend for the nomination she will have to, you know, at some point speak to the reality-based community.
Much is being written about how Bachmann outraised Mitt Romney in the quarter just ended but all the analysis I've seen omits the fact that Bachmann has been actively fundraising and Romney has yet to fully engage. I have no doubt that Michelle Bachmann could do well if not win the Iowa caucuses next year but then again that's hardly a guarantor of the nomination. Just ask Mike Huckabee. The reality is also that Bachmann appeals to a narrow far-right evangelical base and she will face competition for those votes from likes of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich to name just two.
Even more egregious than Chait holding out hope that Michelle Bachmann has some sort of path to the Republican nomination is this tidbit:
The best parallel I think consider is Howard Dean. No, Dean is not anywhere near as crazy as Bachmann. That's not the point. Both tap deeply into a well of activist anger against a sitting president that is not being fully satisfied by other candidates. Both inspire passionate activist volunteers, and make their rivals look phony by comparison. And both inspire terror among the party leadership -- Democrats in 2003 considered Dean just as unelectable as Republicans now consider Bachmann.
The bold is mine. How the normally erudite Jonathan Chait can compare Howard Dean to Michelle Bachmann in terms of sanity is beyond me. It is frankly reprehensible.
The conservatives response has been to simply redefine "unprecedented" in ever more narrow terms. Orrin Hatch writes, "The reconciliation process, which from the start is a rare exception to our regular process, has never been used for major social legislation that did not have wide bipartisan support. Never." That's true! It's been used for major social legislation, and it's been used for major budget legislation that did not have wide bipartisan support, but it's never been used for major social legislation that also did not have wide bipartisan support.
Meanwhile, James Joyner argues, "using reconciliation to avoid a supermajority on health care reform would simply be unprecedented." Also true! Using reconciliation to avoid a supermajority? Happened before. Using reconciliation for health care reform? Happened before. But using reconciliation to avoid a supermajority on health care reform? Unprecedented.
The question is why we should care. After all, since history almost never replicates itself in precisely every detail, nearly everything that happens is unprecedented in some way... For instance, the way in which Senate Republicans are using the filibuster this session is completely unprecedented.
So today I was at the Heritage Foundation, which also makes it a good day to debut my appearance in the New Republic with a piece Chris and I wrote rebutting Jonathan Chait's analysis of the progressive blogosphere. Naturally, Chait's original article was a hit piece on who we are and what we believe in, spinning off nice little sub-hit pieces from folks like Jonah Goldberg in the LA Times. And it's not just filtering into the right-wing bloodstream and the mass media. I've already been contacted by very infuential thinkers who took Chait's piece as an axiomatic description of what we're doing. Chait knew where his piece would go and he knew exactly how he wanted us to be framed. I guess for this reason it had to be rebutted, but it does feel like navel-gazing. If you want more, follow me to the flip side.