When making the case against Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, her critics tend to focus on her policy positions and agenda: she’s an oft-confused extremist on so many issues, Bachmann has few rivals in Washington.
But what sometimes goes overlooked is the fact that Bachmann, after six years as a state legislator and five years as a congresswoman, just isn’t good at her job. Matt Taibbi recently explained, “[G]etting herself elected is pretty much the only thing she has accomplished in politics. That’s not an exaggeration: As both a state senator and a congresswoman, Michele Bachmann has never passed a piece of meaningful legislation.”
With that in mind, CNN’s Candy Crowley, to her credit, asked a question that Bachmann hasn’t heard nearly enough: “What do you consider your greatest legislative accomplishment? I know you blocked things, and been at the head of the spear for stopping things, but when you look at your legislative accomplishments, what is what you brag about most?” Bachmann struggled to answer.
“Well, what I brag about most, I think, is what we were able to accomplish when I was in Minnesota. We had education reform. That’s where I cut my teeth in politics. We were actually able to change the system in Minnesota with education reform.
“In Washington, D.C., Nancy Pelosi has been the Speaker of the House for the bulk of the time that I have been in the House. She wasn’t interested in my pro-growth agenda. So I couldn’t get that through the Congress.”
So, after nearly 12 years as a lawmaker, Bachmann’s biggest “accomplishment” was an education bill in a state legislature — which wasn’t even her bill.
As for her congressional career, it’s true that about two-thirds of her tenure occurred under a Democratic majority, but (a) she could have been willing to compromise and play a constructive role, even under Speaker Pelosi; and (b) it doesn’t change the fact that her pre-presidential-candidate career is accomplishment-free.
Indeed, Politico recently noted, “Bachmann has never had a bill or resolution she’s sponsored signed into law, and she’s never wielded a committee gavel, either at the full or subcommittee level. Bachmann’s amendments and bills have rarely been considered by any committee, even with the House under GOP control.”
Those who follow DC closely know why this is: Bachmann is widely considered a loon — even by her own Republican colleagues who fought like hell to prevent her from joining the House GOP leadership. She’s chosen a specific role on Capitol Hill, and it’s the role of a partisan, right-wing bomb-thrower, not a policymaker.
It’s likely Bachmann’s supporters won’t care about this at all, but as the radical Minnesotan solidifies her position as a top-tier presidential candidate, the fact that she has more experience crouching in bushes spying on gay-rights activists than actually passing legislation probably deserves some additional media scrutiny.