You knew about the gays and the "abortion-minded women." Add to the list of those who should beware of Michele Bachmann: A journalist, a Republican activist. Forget being afraid of her policies — apparently we should now be worried about getting roughed up by her people or, under the right circumstances, being told, zombie-like, "You will pay."
According to Politico, there have been at least five physical confrontations between Bachmann's security staff and the press, at levels which are unprecedented. They've included two well-known TV journalists, ABC's Brian Ross and CNN's Don Lemon, as well as one journalist at friendly network Fox News. (Their correspondent told a bodyguard, "Do not put your hands on me. Don't ever do it again." He's telling Hannity!)
Perhaps the most egregious moment came with a Norwegian journalist who says a bodyguard said to him of another staffer, "This guy will break your arm if you take one step closer." (A Bachmann spokeswoman denies this.) The same man also told the Fox News guy, "You were that close. That close." He wouldn't say to what.
Bachmann was similarly vague with her entirely terrifying threats back in 2006, when she won the Republican nomination for the congressional seat she now holds, and according to the reporter who was there, sounded downright B-movie-like to a Republican activist who had opposed her:
"You will pay, you will pay," Bachmann said to the woman in front of a dozen or more witnesses. She said it a lot of times and, as far as I witnessed, never said anything else. The woman grew increasingly upset at the nonspecific threat and began to weep while still demanding to know how Bachmann was going to make her pay.
....While the woman melted down, Bachmann portrayed an eerie calm and maintained an expression with which I later became more familiar from covering her at other stressful moments. Her gaze was steady. She was sort of smiling throughout.
The reporter, veteran Minnesotan newspaperman Eric Black, says he saw that same look again when Pawlenty was going after Bachmann during the debate. I'd wager it's the same one you see it here while Bachmann steels herself to answer the "submissive wife" question.
In fact, the woman paid, whether or not it was Bachmann's design: When Black next spoke to her, "she had lost the endorsement she was seeking for an open seat in the Minnesota House. Bachmann supported her opponent, who went on to win the seat. Since then, she did lose two jobs in politics or government. She has no evidence that Bachmann was behind her problems."
Whatever happened with that woman, a few things are clear here: Bachmann, and now the staff she pays, doesn't have the usual boundaries that prevent politicians from these types of unrestrained outbursts. And yet there is a chilling discipline here that separates her from Sarah Palin, who was always far more erratic. Which is scary in itself.