It has become a common narrative for politicians in general, but especially so for high-profile members of the Tea Party: She came, she saw, she left in disgrace.
On Wednesday morning, Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota representative who somehow managed to dominate the political spotlight in a state that's represented in the Senate by a former Saturday Night Live cast member, announced that she will be leaving office at the end of her term in 2014.
Bachmann made the curious choice of making the announcement via YouTube. This would usually be considered an odd move for someone who has so often been vocal in the press... unless they're being investigated by the FBI for campaign finance improprieties and don't want to have to face questions from reporters about it.
While she's received plenty of publicity for her inflammatory and so, so often incorrect statements while in office, Bachmann's exit, from a political standpoint, is essentially meaningless.
As Jason Linkins outlined, while in office Michele Bachmann had zero pieces of legislation signed into law and she never wielded a gavel in any government committee or subcommittee.
Interestingly, her story is similar to the other Tea Party-aligned politicians who ran or considered running for president in 2012 -- quick rise, embarrassing fall.
- Rick Santorum's biggest fight during the campaign was in relation to Google results associated with his name rather than any actual policy stance he held. He's now out of politics and involved with a suspiciously political nonprofit.
- Herman Cain, with his political views that seemed eerily influenced by the popular computer game The Sims, is also not involved in politics. His new venture is Cain.tv -- a website that definitely appears to be heavily influenced by a man who generously borrowed lyrics from a Pokemon song for one of his political speeches.
- Despite his embarrassingly unsuccessful presidential campaign, Rick Perry is still the governor of Texas, but any hopes he has of being re-elected in 2014 appear to be bleak.
- There was that Sarah Palin lady.
And then, of course, Michele Bachmann, who in many ways is the perfect representation of the Tea Party: Loud, hateful and ultimately, inconsequential.
On the most basic level, the efforts of the Tea Party are admirable. It's a grassroots movement that organized so that it could effectively communicate its message. But issues arose when it became obvious that that message -- similar to the majority of things Michele Bachmann has said during her illustrious political career -- didn't make any remote sense.
As 2012 election results indicated, the Tea Party's entire platform was based on conflicting beliefs that the majority of Americans couldn't get on board with.
You can't call for gun rights in order to protect yourself from what you believe to be a tyrannous government, and then advocate for billions in defense spending to ensure that America has the strongest military in the world.
You can't constantly throw around the word "liberty" and then claim gay marriage and abortion are wrong for everybody because your interpretation of God says so.
You can't claim America is exceptional, and then attempt to dismantle its parks, labor force and education system -- the very things that once in fact did make it exceptional.
And finally, you can't claim we have the best health care system in the world, when we, uh, don't.
For these reasons, and quite a few more, in the coming years Tea Party reps will likely only exist as talking heads on Fox News rather than as representatives in Congress.
But it's worth appreciating that the future of the movement, Senator Ted Cruz, is a well-spoken Ivy League-educated minority who was born in a foreign country to an American mother and immigrant father. If there is any indication that the entire Tea Party movement has come full circle, it's that their leading presidential hopeful has almost the exact same background as the man currently sitting in office that they so deeply loathe (minus the being born in a foreign country thing). Such irony is only fitting for a movement that has always been a walking contradiction.
There's no shortage of radicals belonging to both parties. But in recent years, the key difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is that the Left never let their radicals hijack their message, while the Right elected theirs into office.
The ultimate result of this strategy was Michele Bachmann and a slew of figures who will likely be more remembered for entertaining YouTube clips than meaningful national legislation.
So happy trails to Michele Bachmann, I can't say that the Tea Party deserved better than you.