Michele Bachmann is
a virtual gaffe machine. She, for example, found it an “interesting
coincidence” that the two significant outbreaks of swine flu came while
Democrats Carter and Obama were in office. She once famously declared, “Not
all cultures are equal.”
There are many intelligent, articulate women in the Republican Party. Why
are they so frequently passed over in favor of those characterized by shallowness
at best, and downright flakiness at worst?
John McCain opened the door when he plucked Sarah Palin to be his running
mate in 2008. Too outspoken for the national stage, too inexperienced in world
affairs, and too unpredictable to be a heartbeat away, Palin's presence helped
elect Barack Obama. More recently, Palin’s ill-advised remarks about the
Tucson shootings served to further remove her as a serious option for the GOP
nomination in '12.
Yet Palin has created the modern model: brash, attractive and media-savvy.
On last November's ballot there was Christine O'Donnell ("I am not a
witch"), Sharron Angle (we need "Second Amendment remedies"),
Linda McMahon ("It's insulting to the millions of people who watch [wrestling]
to suggest that it is less than quality entertainment"), and Carly Fiorina
("We are members of the Had Enough Party") to name but a few who define "Republican
female leader" in totally unelectable ways.
Now we have Michele Bachmann on the campaign trail in Iowa, doing the requisite
meet and greet at the Smokey Row coffee shop in Des Moines, and delivering a
speech in which she railed against America’s “self-anointed elite.”
This would be a good place to restate: There are many highly qualified Republican
women, but Rep. Bachmann is not one of them. So what is it about this style of
mama grizzly, gun-toting, love-it-or-leave-it politics that seems to be the trademark
of so many of the GOP’s female candidates?
At least Democrat Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to be nominated for vice
president by a major party, had the sense to wait several decades before talking
crazy ("If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position”).
But Bachmann, like Palin, is in the spotlight right now and seems to believe
that wild rhetoric can succeed in today’s presidential politics.
It was Bachmann, after all, who said on MSNBC, “I'm very concerned that
[Barack Obama] may have anti-American views.”
This is not fighting the good fight, this is inciting members of both parties
to yield to their worst instincts.
Bachmann has become a highly-visible champion of the Tea Party, yet was rejected
as the unofficial leader of its members in Congress by the new Speaker John Boehner.
The role was given to Kristi Noem of South Dakota – less well known on
the national stage, but from the same mold: wife, mother, rancher and hunter,
with a lengthy record of traffic tickets in her home state including 20 for speeding.
Washington media were quick to label Noem, “The new Sarah Palin.”
Where are the down to earth and well-qualified Republican women, and why do
they remain silent while the outspoken but virtually unelectable members of their
party hog the spotlight? Why would Michele Bachmann even waste the airfare on
three trips to Iowa?
Faye Palin offered insight in ‘08 when asked why she might not be able
to bring herself to vote for her daughter-in-law, Sarah. "I'm not sure
what she brings to the ticket,” she said, “other than she's a woman
and a conservative."
(c) Peter Funt. This column was originally distributed by the Cagle Syndicate.