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Bachmann exit helps GOP scrub stupid away

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
May 30, 2013 -- Updated 1359 GMT (2159 HKT)
<a href='http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/29/rep-bachmann-looks-forward-to-limitless-future-but-not-in-the-house/'>U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has announced </a>she won't seek re-election to Congress. In a video posted on her campaign website Wednesday, May 29, the Minnesota Republican denied that concerns over winning re-election or a congressional ethics inquiry over campaign funds influenced her decision. Known as a voice for the tea party, the conservative firebrand ran unsuccessfully for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Bachmann, pictured on May 16, discusses the scandal of the Internal Revenue Service targeting tea party groups. Here's a look back at her career: U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has announced she won't seek re-election to Congress. In a video posted on her campaign website Wednesday, May 29, the Minnesota Republican denied that concerns over winning re-election or a congressional ethics inquiry over campaign funds influenced her decision. Known as a voice for the tea party, the conservative firebrand ran unsuccessfully for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Bachmann, pictured on May 16, discusses the scandal of the Internal Revenue Service targeting tea party groups. Here's a look back at her career:
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Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
Michele Bachmann's career in politics
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michele Bachmann announced her plan to leave Congress at end of term
  • LZ Granderson says it's progress in GOP effort to stop being "the stupid party"
  • Bachmann was one of a number of GOP figures who spoke nonsense, he says
  • Granderson: Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell have faded into the background

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and was a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @locs_n_laughs.

(CNN) -- Remember when Sarah Palin was the face of the Republican Party?

It only seems like yesterday she was the Republicans' most talked-about candidate for president. Now she's gone from prominent voice on Fox News to a reality TV star whose latest project is a book entitled "A Happy Holiday IS a Merry Christmas."

That's almost as good a book title as Christine O'Donnell's "Troublemaker: Let's Do What It Takes To Make America Great Again" and way better than the snoozer Sharron Angle is pushing: "Right Angle: One Woman's Journey to Reclaim the Constitution."

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

Immigration reform may be the aspect of the GOP rebranding strategy that gets the most headlines, but heeding Gov. Bobby Jindal's call to "stop being the stupid party" also appears to be high on the party's list.

Hence the marginalizing of Palin and the rest of the party's Sisterhood of the Traveling Rants. In 2010, the sisterhood was everywhere, speaking in front of big crowds, making stuff up as they went along. Now they're at the kids' table, trying to make room for one more: Michele Bachmann.

"I fully anticipate the mainstream liberal media to put a detrimental spin on my decision not to seek a fifth term," Bachmann said in a nearly nine-minute video in which she announced that she is not seeking re-election.

What is Bachmann's legacy?

Bachmann-isms: Gaffes and goofs
Fact-checking Bachmann's Obamacare claims
Bachmann: IRS controversy 'troubling'
Bill O'Reilly bashes Michele Bachmann

In another example of what has become the norm for conservatives who become annoyed by facts, Bachmann pointed a finger at the so-called mainstream liberal media and not at her former national field coordinator, Peter Waldron, who filed an ethics complaint.

She's accusing the media of spin instead of owning up to the fact that House Republicans have quietly shunned her or that her well-documented penchant for massaging the truth has drawn criticism from conservatives such as Bill O'Reilly.

In April 2009, while arguing against climate change on the House floor, Bachmann said, "there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas."

In 2011, in regards to HPV vaccination, she said a mother told "me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. It can have very dangerous side effects."

This year, she gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conerence, slinging hunks of red-meat untruths about President Obama, and when she was questioned about the facts of her speech by CNN's Dana Bash, she ran away.

Bachmann said she is not disappearing and vows to keep fighting for America, a thought I'm sure makes Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus cringe.

He's trying to limit the number of ignorant, controversial statements that derailed more than one campaign during the 2012 election. Bachmann is a walking ignorant, controversial statement waiting to happen.

"We have to be persistent but patient," Priebus said in response to the handful of notable Republicans who have suggested impeaching Obama over the IRS scandal. "I think where there's smoke, there's fire. If we present ourselves to the American people as intelligent, we're going to be in a great place as far as showing that this administration is not transparent, is obsessed with power and hates dissent. But you don't call for impeachment until you have evidence."

Bachmann looks forward to future, but not in the House

Bachmann said it was worse than Watergate, and no, she presented no evidence to support such claims.

The fact is, the brand of spitfire politics Bachmann, Palin et al. employ is usually not patient or intelligent. It's often irresponsible hyperbole designed to generate buzz as opposed to inform. If directed properly, it's an effective way to win an election. But the problem with spitfire is that it's sometimes hard to control.

The sisterhood was hard to control, and on more than one occasion, the party was burned because of it. That's why slowly, methodically, politically, the most famous members of 2010's sisterhood have been extinguished, done in by the fact that far too often they had no idea what they were talking about.

Think about it: Three years ago, Palin was a rock star who had Democrats on the run.

Now she's writing a Christmas book.

Thankfully, Susan Collins was too levelheaded to be a part of the group. Unfortunately, Olympia Snowe was too levelheaded to stay a part of Congress. One can only hope scrubbing stupid away can help bring respect back to a party that handed a lot of it over in exchange for the 2010 midterm election.

Assuming Bachmann survives the ethics investigation, I'm sure a new book is in her future as well. I just hope bookstores have the good sense to put it under "fiction."

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

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