Turns out Michele Bachmann peaked about four months too early.

The Republican congresswoman from Minnesota stood astride the political world — and on the cover of Newsweek— in the dog days of August following her victory in the allegedly predictive Ames, Iowa, straw poll. Little did she (or we) know that that win was the only one she would sniff in her presidential bid, which she brought to a close on Wednesday after her disastrous sixth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

“Last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to stand aside,” Bachmann told a crowd of supporters in Des Moines. “I have no regrets.”

She may come to regret that “no regrets” comment as she assesses her political options. As we see it, she has two:

Return to the House and make do with the decidedly lower profile that her congressional seat affords her. Can this be done? Sure, but it’s hardly easy, and it involves swallowing pride and ego.

Or retire from the House in 2012 and find a new gig — Fox News Channel commentator, perhaps? — that allows her to build her flock outside of political office.

Neither comes close to matching the prestige of her party’s presidential nomination, which, as strange as it seems now, appeared to be within her grasp (or at least reachable) just 140 days or so ago.

Michele Bachmann, for ripening before voters were ready to make their pick, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at

Read more from Outlook, friend us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.