Bachmann exits stage right

So long, Michele, we knew you all too well.

Rep. Michele Bachmann is suspending her presidential campaign, said a senior Republican official with direct knowledge of the lawmaker’s plans. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Minnesota lawmaker, a favorite of the tea party wing of the party and a harsh critic of President Obama, realized after her sixth-place finish in Iowa’s caucuses that “there was no viable way forward.” By suspending her campaign, Bachmann is effectively dropping out.

After having won the Ames Straw Poll in August, Bachmann finished with just 5% support last night.

Time will tell where Bachmann’s remaining supporters go, but it’s unlikely they’ll gravitate towards Mitt Romney. Indeed, the fact that the GOP field is shrinking at all is not what Romney wants to see. As we discussed earlier, because the former governor’s support in his party is so limited, Romney benefits greatly from as large a field as possible — the more the anti-Romney vote is divided among many candidates, the easier it is for him.

But putting all of that aside, as the Minnesotan leaves the presidential campaign trail, it’s worth pausing to appreciate how absurd it is that Bachmann sought the Republican presidential nomination in the first place.

The unhinged lawmaker is arguably the most ridiculous person in Washington. She proudly embraces bizarre conspiracy theories; she routinely says crazy things on national television; she pretends to grasp public policies she doesn’t understand; and her worldview is comparable to someone who’s suffered a serious head trauma. Even as the Republican Party leaps off a right-wing cliff, Bachmann stands out for her unique brand of madness.

Even in a radicalized party and the most extreme House majority caucus in generations, Bachmann stands out as one of Congress’ most loony-tunes members. To put it gently, she’s stark raving mad.

That there was a point in this race at which Bachmann was actually taken seriously as a candidate for national office is a national embarrassment.