Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who's made quite a name for herself over the course of four terms in Congress, made a surprise announcement overnight: she won't seek re-election.
In a video posted on her website and on YouTube, the stressed that her decision to stand down from her Minnesota seat was not due to any concern she would be defeated at the next election in 2014 or the inquiries into activities of her former presidential campaign staff.
And she said she would continue to fight for the policies she believes in and that her future was "limitless and my passion for America will remain."
Bachmann's YouTube video was posted to Maddow Blog earlier.
While Bachmann may hope to convey a sense of confidence, the truth is her career was in serious jeopardy. In recent elections, the right-wing Minnesotan eked out narrow victories -- she very nearly lost last November -- and recent polling suggested Bachmann would struggle to keep her seat in 2014. Quitting will save her the trouble of losing.
What's more, Bachmann, the leader of Congress' "Tea Party Caucus," is currently under investigation by the FBI, the Office of Congressional Ethics, the Federal Elections Commission, and an ethics panel in Iowa for a variety of alleged misdeeds. If the congresswoman's bizarre ideology and erratic behavior weren't enough to push voters away, her ongoing scandals made her career prospects that much worse.
As for coming to terms with her political career, which included a failed presidential campaign in 2012, it's honestly hard to know where to start. Few politicians of this generation have been as ridiculous as Michele Bachmann. If there were a Hall of Fame for cringe-worthy members of Congress who could only be described as cover-your-eyes embarrassing, Bachmann would be a first-ballot inductee.
I'm sure there will be plenty of Greatest Hits collections published today -- each of which will be true and will make you wonder how she was elected in the first place -- but I'd just note that Bachmann proudly embraces bizarre conspiracy theories; she routinely says ridiculous things on national television; she pretends to grasp public policies she doesn't really understand; and her worldview is detached from reality to an unnerving degree. Even as the Republican Party leaps off a right-wing cliff, Bachmann stands out for her unique brand of madness.
Remember the time she said FDR passed "Hoot-Smalley" and caused the Depression? How about the time Bachmann argued a bipartisan national service bill would lead to "re-education camps"? Or maybe the time she suggested the U.S. Census might lead to "internment camps"? Or perhaps the time she urged her supporters to slit their wrists?
This is just a small sample, barely scratching the surface of a federal lawmaker who has effectively been a caricature of herself. Bachmann will be missed, but mostly by the nation's comedy writers.