Matt Taibbi: Laughing at Michele Bachmann Only Makes Her Stronger

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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It's hard to tell which Taibbian descriptors are most poignant in Matt's latest Rolling Stone screed, in which he sets his sights on GOP presidential contender Michele Bachmann. Is it that she's "trying to look like June Cleaver, but she actually looks like the T2 skeleton posing for a passport photo"? Is it that her greatest quality is "the gigantic set of burnished titanium Terminator-testicles swinging under her skirt"? Or is it this paragraph:

Bachmann is a religious zealot whose brain is a raging electrical storm of divine visions and paranoid delusions. She believes that the Chinese are plotting to replace the dollar bill, that light bulbs are killing our dogs and cats, and that God personally chose her to become both an IRS attorney who would spend years hounding taxpayers and a raging anti-tax Tea Party crusader against big government.

It's actually none of those.

Unsurprisingly, the most poignant of Taibbi's descriptions is the one where Bachmann is described vampirically, metaphorically sucking power from her enemies as they try to toss her aside. Although Taibbi thinks Bachmann is "almost certainly the funniest thing that has ever happened to American presidential politics," he also has a warning: "You will want to laugh, but don't, because the secret of Bachmann's success is that every time you laugh at her, she gets stronger."

Hmmm. Could that be true?

In October 2008 ... Bachmann went on Hardball With Chris Matthews and effectively accused both her fellow members of Congress and soon-to-be-president Barack Obama of being witches who should be thrown in a lake to see if they sank from lack of patriotism. "I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?" she said. "I think people would love to see an exposé like that." When the comment sparked a furious controversy, Bachmann responded by blaming Matthews, insisting that "I did not suggest the word 'anti-American.'" She wasn't mad that she was misquoted — she was furious because her views had been conveyed accurately, in a live television interview.

"There's always this mechanism available to Bachmann," says Elwyn Tinklenberg, the Democrat she defeated in the congressional election that fall. "No matter what they say, there is this attitude that 'these poor Christians are being picked on.'" Cecconi agrees, saying that Bachmann has discovered her blunders only serve to underscore her martyrdom. "I've seen her parlay that into 'Look how downtrodden I am,'" she says. "It works for her."

There's definitely something to that idea. But come on, Matt. There must be a catchphrase for this theory. Is Bachmann a deceiving Succubitical who thrives off the derision of the educated? Is she an unstoppable joy Gorgon? A Jesus Dementor, sucking the happiness out of America face by innocent face? Don't tell us you're losing your touch.

(Also, not for nothing, who knew the Terminator had testicles? SOMEBODY'S going to be updating their sexy robot blog tonight ...)

Michele Bachmann's Holy War [Rolling Stone]