The Michele Bachmann Caucus: How A Star GOP Rep Has Gone Rogue

Shortly after the 2010 election, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) had to give up her short-lived campaign to join the Republican leadership as chair of the House GOP Conference. But drawing some lessons from John Milton, she seems to now be reigning in her own new capacity: As the leader of the Michele Bachmann Caucus.

Last night, Bachmann delivered her own response to the State of the Union address, following Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) delivery of the actual, official GOP response. In her case, it was an address sponsored by the Tea Party Express group, a division of Our Country Deserves Better PAC.

Bachmann pulled out all the stops last night, invoking everything from the debunked assertion that there would now be “16,500 IRS agents in charge of policing President Obama’s healthcare bill,” to charts — and even invoking the famous World War II photo Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, purloining an icon that represents all Americans and turning it into a symbol of conservative policy.

The only thing she didn’t do, of course, was look into the actual camera through which we the viewers were seeing her — instead seeming to focus on a teleprompter that was way off to the side. (Hmm, maybe she should have written it on her hand instead?)

But that’s not all!

When Bachmann’s speech was first announced last week, it sure raised a lot of eyebrows. On Monday, she said it wasn’t an attempt to upstage Ryan. “I’m just reacting to what President Obama is saying, to the Tea Party Express group,” Bachmann had said. “It’s not meant to be in competition in any way. Paul Ryan is the official GOP response and he’ll do a wonderful job.”

As it turned out, only one TV network carried the speech live — and it wasn’t Fox News, the channel that Bachmann has virtually co-starred on for the last two years. Instead, it was CNN — and as Greg Sargent reported, some GOP aides were unhappy with CNN for furthering the appearance of GOP divisions.

And on top of that, Bachmann didn’t just give her own separate response from the GOP’s. As Politico noted, she also released her own budget plan in the hours before the State of the Union!

As you know, Bachmann has been floating the idea of running for president, and has even visited Iowa. So with the Iowa Republican caucuses scheduled for February 2012, the question becomes: When are the Bachmann caucuses?