Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has become the de facto congressional leader of the Tea Party movement.
Both Clinton and ex-GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin have managed to keep themselves in the public eye, the former as secretary of state and the latter as political celebrity and would-be best-selling author.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is front and center after becoming the first legislative leader in American history to to shepherd a health care reform package through half of Congress. Pelosi's willingness to engage in old-fashioned horse-trading made her the target of criticism that might otherwise be called sexist -- even coming from other women. Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham declared that Pelosi "did everything but sell her body to get [the] bill passed." When you're running the place, such comments go with the territory.
Meanwhile, an unexpected female political superstar has emerged on the Republican side. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has taken on the role once performed by men like now-retired Bob Dornan (R-California) and Dan Burton, (R-Indiana). It's the role of the bomb-throwing, say-anything conservative firebrand. The gig is a self-appointed one and doesn't often lead to a congressional leadership post, but in Bachmann's case, it has brought plenty of television face time. She's already the darling of the Tea Party movement.
Bachmann may even have more juice than male GOP leaders like John Boehner and Eric Cantor. While the object of derision from many liberals, Bachmann has gotten major praise from the usually straightforward conservative columnist George Will. That suggests, her unorthodox tactics aside, Bachmann has the ability to "cross over" and influence the more mainstream parts of the conservative movement.
These women represent different parts of the political spectrum, but one thing is sure: In Washington's corridors of power, ladies are calling the tune.