There may be method to the Republican Party's apparent madness, writes Steve Kornacki in Salon. Mouthy scene-stealer Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann seems to be elbowing Sarah Palin out of the limelight, plopping the former Alaska governor at an all-time popularity low, much to the relief of the GOP establishment, says Kornacki. But that still leaves traditionalist Republicans with the problem of Bachmann. "Most bottom line-oriented Republicans will admit that Bachmann would be general election poison for their party in a national election," notes Kornacki.
But "the beauty of a Bachmann candidacy: Nobody seriously believes she has a chance to win the GOP nomination," writes Kornacki. If she manages to top a "splintered field" in Iowa's caucuses, "the rest of the party would quickly rally around her most broadly acceptable (and viable) opponent," he explains. Bachmann's biggest value now to establishment Republicans is that she's the best threat against Palin, who frightens the traditionalists. They're convinced that once Palin is out of the picture, they can "contain" a Bachmann presidential candidacy. Bachmann is "one more insurance policy against a Palin nomination—and there's really no chance that she'll somehow win the nomination herself," concludes Kornacki.