With Iowa's Ames Straw Poll coming up on Saturday, Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann is glowing in the spotlight of two prominent magazine profiles. This week's New Yorker and Newsweek ground their portraits of Bachmann in the emotional connection she makes with audiences on the stump. As Newsweek put it, "when others meandered or waffled, she shot back with answers that reduced Washington's dysfunctional gridlock to understandable soundbites." She is, for better or worse, "the living embodiment of the Tea Party." A few highlights:

In The New Yorker:

  • Michael Calderone points us toward the theory behind why Bachmann is always featured on The Drudge Report (see: her John Wayne-John Wayne Gacy gaffe), but Mitt Romney is absent:

Why would Drudge, an ardent conservative, publicize that gaffe? [speech and debate coach, Brett] O’Donnell thought he knew the answer. "Matt Rhoades and Drudge are best friends," he said, speaking of Mitt Romney’s campaign manager. Bachmann concurred. "You never see anything about Romney on Drudge—ever," she said.

  • Cheat Sheet noticed an exchange where Marcus Bachmann was curious why he was called a "silver fox":

He pointed at my laptop and asked if he could take a look. "All I want to know is what they’re saying about me," he said. "Newsweek came up with the word 'silver fox.' Tell me what 'silver fox' means." "Do you want me to tell you honestly?" I asked. "Oh, don’t tell me it’s something gay!" he said. "Because I’ve been called that before." ....I explained that "silver fox" probably had more to do with the color of his hair.

  • The composition and tenor of her campaign rallies:

The elderly, the unemployed, the exasperated, and even a few disillusioned Democrats crowd her rallies and cheer her not-going-to-take-it-anymore shtick, even as they recognize some of its inherent contradictions. "You use the word 'anger.' It’s not anger," Bachmann told NEWSWEEK. Americans aren’t expressing "unhinged anger," she says. "People are saying the country is not working."

  • On whether she considers herself "extreme":

Asked if her positions are extreme, Bachmann replies that the Tea Party’s ideals are simply the most rational solutions to a broken and profligate government, and that the only option is to stand tough. "I do not twist in the wind," she says proudly.