- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Press and pundits erupted with glee following Rep. Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she would not run for office again. The Minnesota Republican drew much derisive coverage, described in various reports as a “failed presidential candidate” and a “fact checker’s dream,” among many things. There were multiple “rise and fall” stories in the mix, speculations about her personal fears and much conjecture about the state and/or fate of the Republican Party.

But not everyone was interested in the media pile-on — and they appear convinced that the lawmaker is not done yet.

Michele Bachmann played a crucial role in turning the tea party protest movement into a political action force that brought stunning change across America in 2010. Without her standing up for the tea party at the earliest time, we would not have enjoyed such a successful political effort,” observes Sal Russo, a strategist for Tea Party Express, a political action committee.

“We know that her fight for liberty and free markets will not stop at the end of her term,” Mr. Russo adds.

“Democrats who hope Bachmann’s retirement will slow the tea party’s resurgence are likely to be disappointed, not least because Bachmann has been less visible as a symbol of the movement recently. Nor is Bachmann’s retirement likely to improve slim prospects that Democrats will retake the House,” points out Joel B. Pollak, a political analyst with Breitbart.com. “Yet it will mark the end of a critical era in the conservative cause, one that would not have been the same without her.”

Some are sure that Mrs. Bachmann — who has considerable fundraising prowess in the campaign arena— may be just getting started.

“We look forward to working with her in the fights ahead,” says Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, a grass-roots umbrella organization representing some 3,400 local groups.

THE REPLACEMENTS LINEUP

Well, that was quick. A roster of a dozen Republicans who could replace the aforementioned Mrs. Bachmann appeared within hours of her retirement announcement Wednesday. Some have already expressed interest in running, says Devin Henry, a political analyst for MinnPost who obtained the list of potential 2014 candidates from an anonymous GOP source.

The names appear “in no particular order,” Mr. Henry says. They are:

State Reps. Tim Sanders, Matt Dean, David FitzSimmons and Peggy Scott; State Sens. Michelle L. Fischbach and Mary Kiffmeyer; St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis; Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah; former state Reps. Phil Krinkie, Jim Knoblach and Tom Emmer; and former U.S. Senate hopeful Pete Hegseth.

MERRY PERRY

The war on Christmas has become a year-round activity. Defenders of the sacred day in one state have taken a feisty new action, even as summer sets in. Witness Texas State Bill 308, which amends the state education code to allow schools to acknowledge Christmas without fear of a lawsuit. The bill has passed in the Texas House and Senate and now awaits the imminent signature of Gov. Rick Perry. A portion of the text:

“Winter Celebrations. A school district may educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations, and allow students and district staff to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations, including: ‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘Happy Hanukkah’ and ‘happy holidays.’”

Classrooms and schoolyards may be a little brighter in December, at least in the Lone Star State.

“A school district may display on school property scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations, including a menorah or a Christmas image such as a nativity scene or Christmas tree,” the bill states.

NOT A SPROUTS GUY

“I’m not nearly as interested in food as I used to be. But it hasn’t all of a sudden made me a huge vegetable fan,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tells People magazine in an interview to be published Friday.

Indeed. Mr. Christie’s quest to lose weight has taken on political overtones as a curious public wonders if he’s slimming down for a 2016 presidential run. He could lose the vegetarian vote, however. Mr. Christie reveals that he will only eat lettuce, green beans and cucumbers, and that’s it from the veggie world.

CULTURAL MOMENT

“ClimateRight Dog House Air Conditioner: a sensible small and portable air conditioner. This product is made for outdoor dog houses. It helps prevent heat stress/heat stroke and purifies air and dehumidifies. ClimateRight lets you affordably control the environment in your pet’s dwelling on the hottest summer days. Re-circulated air is constantly being filtered, cleaned and dehumidified. Made in USA. Price: $499.99.”

— New product introduction from theuncommondog.com.

MUCKETY-MUCK

“Nation equipped to grow serious pond scum for fuel,” proclaims an announcement from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. It explains, “A new analysis shows that the nation’s land and water resources could likely support the growth of enough algae to produce up to 25 billion gallons of algae-based fuel a year in the United States, one-twelfth of the country’s yearly needs.”

The lab’s work, incidentally, was funded by the Department of Energy.

POLL DU JOUR

77 percent of Americans say religion “as a whole” is losing its influence on American life; 82 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of conservatives, 69 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of liberals agree.

14 percent of Americans overall agreed that religion was losing its influence in 1957.

75 percent overall say that if Americans were more religious it would have a positive effect of American society.

20 percent overall say the influence of religion is increasing in American society; 14 percent of Republicans, 16 percent of conservatives, 28 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,535 U.S. adults conducted May 2 to 7 plus historic Gallup data, released Wednesday.

Complaints, accolades, diet tips to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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