Michele Bachmann pretty much ended Tim Pawlenty’s campaign.

Bachman attacked Pawlenty relentlessly and took the Iowa straw poll, causing Pawlenty (foolishly, in hindsight) to withdraw.  In so doing, Bachmann eliminated the person who was the most viable not-Romney establishment candidate, a former Governor with a good, conservative record who appealed not only to Romney-supporting Republicans but also the Tea Party movement.

Leaving Romney as the only establishment-acceptable candidate has paid huge dividends for Romney, as the hyperventilated National Review promotion of Romney demonstrates.

Now Bachmann is trying to take out Newt, currently the only viable challenger to Romney if current polling is the measure.  Don’t take my word for it, because you know I’m not a Bachmann fan and have been harshly critical of her.

There are two good analyses today.  While I may not agree with all their conclusions, Byron York and John Podhoretz correctly see the role Bachmann is playing for the Romney campaign.

York, discussing Romney’s strategy of having others go after Newt, writes:

The good news for Romney, of course, was that there were other candidates willing to take up the task of attacking Gingrich.  Foremost among them was Rep. Michele Bachmann, who first attacked Gingrich’s work for Freddie Mac, and then slammed his record on the issue of partial birth abortion….

Team Romney did like it.  And afterward, Romney aides were happy to put in a good word for the congresswoman from Minnesota. “Michele Bachmann is good,” Stevens volunteered.  “She is good.  She’s cogent, she’s smart, unflappable — she must have been a heck of a lawyer.  Very, very good.  Very strong.” The message to Bachmann: Keep at it.

Podhoretz writes:

The Gingrich rocket may have reached its apogee and begun its rapid  descent.

In which case, the beneficiaries will be  Mitt Romney — because he will have outlasted another challenger — and Rick  Perry, who had his best outing since the day he declared for the presidency in  August….

She may not have helped herself, though. In serving as an attack dog, she may  have put voters off; but her attacks may help drive the soft Gingrich voter into  the Perry camp — or even into the arms of Rick Santorum, the only right-wing  candidate in the field not to get his moment in the top tier.

Michele Bachmann never will be President, and contrary to some conspiratorial conjecture, Vice President either. I just don’t think she realizes it yet.