Breathe deep. It looks like it might all be passing now.
At last night's Republican presidential debate, Michele Bachmann, once a centerpiece of the campaign and media darling, finally started receding from front-and-center and blending into the curtain behind her.
On stage with current front runners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, Bachmann was called on sparsely and didn't deliver much when she was. Sure, she said some weird stuff: HPV vaccines shouldn't be given to "innocent" girls, toppling Muammar Qaddafi could lead to a "global caliphate," and have you heard the one about $2 gas?
But by and large, she was ignored during the debate, and left out of the media coverage afterward. If Michele Bachmann says weird stuff and no one cares... is it still stuff?
Consider the debate coverage headlines from across the country:
"Perry and Romney spar over economy, jobs" (from the Washington Post), "Romney and Perry draw lines in the sand" (New York Times), "Rick Perry takes the heat but keeps on smiling" (debate host MSNBC), "Romney, Perry square off in Reagan Library" (Los Angeles Times), "Perry, Romney clash over job creation records" (Chicago Tribune), and, from the Daily Beast: "Perry, Romney dominate Republican debate."
According to that Daily Beast piece, Bachmann was called on to speak only five times in the first 90 minutes of the debate.
Come on, surely someone wrote about our hometown church gal. Anyone? Oh, there it is! An analysis in the Los Angeles Times: "As Perry and Romney spar, Michele Bachmann fades."
Dammit. That's it? Didn't anyone commit some serious ink to Bachmann? Maybe all these jaded political reporters are just chasing their own tails, following off each others' stories. Let's check in with someone out of step, like the International Business Times, with its analysis, "Republican Debate Winners and Losers."
LOSERSUh-oh. Michele, where did it all go wrong?
Done. Fini. Kaput.
That's how you can describe Bachmann's chances of winning the Republican nomination after the debate. Bachmann saw her momentum slow to a crawl after Tea Party favorite Rick Perry joined the race and that will only get worse after Wednesday night.
A day before the debate, the National Journal wrote a pretty damning little piece called "Charting Bachmann's Rapid Collapse," citing the massive and sudden drop in Bachmann's poll numbers -- dragging along at only 7 percent of Republican voters in a late-August NBC/Wall Street Journal poll -- since Rick Perry entered the race.
The National Journal also cited the stepping-down of Bachmann's campaign manager Ed Rollins, and the stepping-the-hell-away of deputy campaign manager David Polyansky as bad, bad signs.
But wait! Ed Rollins is still on the job, and was in the spin room, bending the reporters' ears for Michele last night. Come on, Ed, get her out of this mess! What did you say to MSNBC?
Speaking for Bachmann's campaign in the spin room, veteran Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who once worked for Reagan, said, "Romney had a better night tonight than he has had in the last couple" of debates.(Gulp.)