THE SCOPE OF BACHMANN’S AMBITIONS…. Shortly after the midterm elections, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) launched a campaign to become the new House Republican Conference Chair. GOP leaders, who tend to find Bachmann rather embarrassing, quietly crushed her bid, and ensured she wouldn’t join the congressional leadership.

One wonders, then, how they’d feel about a much bigger promotion for the deranged Minnesota Republican.

In recent weeks, there’s been a fair amount of scuttlebutt about Bachmann eyeing a U.S. Senate race in 2012. ABC News reports this morning that the right-wing lawmaker may aim even higher.

ABC News has learned that Bachmann, R-Minn., also is seriously weighing whether to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

A source close to the three-term congresswoman said Bachmann will travel to Iowa this month for multiple meetings to seek advice from political forces there and party elders close to the caucus process before coming to a final decision regarding a potential presidential run. Bachmann, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, also is set to deliver a keynote speech at an Iowans for Tax Relief PAC fundraiser Jan. 21 in Des Moines, Iowa. […]

Bachmann’s appearance in the Hawkeye State later this month will be her third trip over the past eight months to the significant early-caucus state, and last week she was featured at another GOP fundraiser in Michigan — also an early primary state.

Although aides in Bachmann’s congressional office said she has received frequent encouragement from supporters to challenge President Obama next year, they would not confirm quite yet that she officially was throwing her hat into the ring.

For the record, I find it very hard to believe that Bachmann would be serious about this. She may have limitless ambitions — who knows what the voices in Bachmann’s head tell her is possible — but even she must realize her odds of getting elected President of the United States are about as good as mine.

If Bachmann were to pursue this, it’d very likely be an elaborate exercise in vanity — she’d enjoy the attention, the platform, and the visibility; she’d expect a bump in stature; and she could drop out with plenty of time to seek re-election to her current post.

For Democrats, there are a couple of angles to this. The good news is, if Bachmann does launch a national campaign, she’ll give party leaders, who wish she’d just go away, plenty of indigestion. The bad news is, if she runs, Bachmann would likely make other GOP candidates look moderate and sensible by comparison.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.