Democrats & Liberals Archives

Is the Bachmann Migraine Story Really Just Sexism?

A TPM reader has brought up the idea that this whole thing is a sexist attack on Michelle Bachmann. I tend to agree that this would not be an issue if Bachmann were a man, but is it sexism? I think so. If it’s not then it’s dangerously close to it.

First of all, having to think about sexism (or racism for that matter) in a presidential race is both disturbing and refreshing. It's disturbing because it shouldn't be an issue in this day and age. It's refreshing because it means there are men and women in the race that matter enough for the attacks to take place.

The 2008 primary was groundbreaking in that both a black man and a white woman won state primaries in unprecedented fashion. Combine that with a woman being the VP candidate and the black man winning the race and you've got a pretty good foundation for barrier breaking elections in the future. I digress.

In looking slightly deeper I found an article on the subject of Bachmann and Migraines from Huffington Post backing up the suggestion that this is a sexist attack. In fact there is quite a lot of chatter about sexism this week.

The articles I've read bring to mind an interesting historical parallel between how a man would never be attacked for having migraine the same way that a man would never be attacked for being successful outside of the home. That may be stretching it, but only a little. We saw the same attacks on the right (and some on the left) against Hillary Clinton. Slugs like Rush Limbaugh have always attacked women they disagree with on the basis of their looks or their home life as if being a successful woman means you must be ugly, a bad mother, or maybe even sleeping your way to the top. Let's not pretend this sort of thing isn't rampant in political discourse.

One thing that could take this out of the realm of sexism is simply the reality that in modern times no lousy looking, unhealthy, bald, aged candidate is going to win the election under normal circumstances. We've started to elect a series of youngish, decent looking presidents in the last 20 years. We would never elect a man in a wheelchair like FDR or someone with chronic health conditions like JFK. Would we elect someone as old as Reagan? Probably not. Certainly not if it were a woman that old like Hillary Clinton would be in 2016.

Michelle Bachmann is an attractive woman, in good physical shape, and in the right age range so her critics can't attack her there. The suggestion now that inside her lurks a physical or mental defect may have just been the blood in the water they were hoping for. Now the sharks have arrived.

From the start I was baffled by this whole thing. Are her critics getting lazy? I can't stand Michelle Bachmann. Every time she opens her mouth to speak she says two or three things that make me and many others I know unable to vote for her for President, ever. So why do we need to cross the line where we're actually questioning her physical ability to be president based on a few details about migraines and medication for them?

My advice is as a critic of Bachmann let's just stick to the truth and what we know about her politics and her thought process. There's plenty of bad to go around that clearly has no connection to sexism. Leave that other garbage where it belongs. It has no place in rational discourse.

Posted by Adam Ducker at July 21, 2011 8:36 AM
Comments
Comment #326172

With the exception of Chris Mathews, I think generaly it’s just a case of attack dogs getting carried away. Mathews, however, is clearly sexist and can’t stand political women.

Posted by: George at July 21, 2011 11:10 AM
Comment #326173

George: “Mathews, however, is clearly sexist and can’t stand political women.”

MSNBC has had a sort of problem with that. I’ve never been a big fan of Olbermann either while he was there after the way he handled things with Hillary Clinton. Perhaps it’s Olbermann’s sports background. Too much testosterone in the air for sound judgment of women.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at July 21, 2011 11:19 AM
Comment #326176

It was an inappropriate attack on Bachmann, no doubt. Sexism? Mmm, not so sure about that. But it was wrong, for sure.

Posted by: phx8 at July 21, 2011 11:39 AM
Comment #326184

Adam Ducker,

“Slugs like Rush Limbaugh have always attacked women they disagree with on the basis of their looks or their home life as if being a successful woman means you must be ugly, a bad mother, or maybe even sleeping your way to the top.”

Actually, you’re wrong; Rush Limbaugh has always said the membership of NOW (National Organization of Women), of whom he calls them the NAG (National Association of Gals), are made up of ugly women. He has never said anything about successful women being ugly, bad mothers, or sleeping their way to the top. Of course we (conservatives) don’t consider women politicians to be successful, any more than we do men. Success is accomplished in the private sector. Any liberal (man or woman) who can scream a socialist agenda loud enough and demand the death of babies as a woman’s right, can get elected by the “Slugs” (to use your term) on the left.

I am happy to see so many liberals calling this sexism, but I haven’t quite figured out why. It’s a shame the “slugs” on the left didn’t feel this way 3 years ago, when the sexist remarks were being said about Palin and her daughter, who wasn’t running for anything; in fact there were several “slugs “ on WB who were neck deep into making sexist comments about Palin. So it has just now hit you that this is wrong? Hmmm…

“With the exception of Chris Mathews, I think generaly it’s just a case of attack dogs getting carried away. Mathews, however, is clearly sexist and can’t stand political women.”
Posted by: George at July 21, 2011 11:10 AM

Again, George is wrong; Chris Matthews was only a sexist attack dog when it came to conservative women.

I’m thinking this post may be a setup to attack Congressman West (R-FL) for his attack on that vile idiot Congresswoman Wasserman (D-FL), as sexist remarks.

Posted by: Mike at July 21, 2011 5:03 PM
Comment #326185

Mike: “So it has just now hit you that this is wrong?”

I’ve been attacking left and right for years for sexist remarks. It’s just so much more common coming from the right than the left though.

Mike: “He has never said anything about successful women being ugly, bad mothers, or sleeping their way to the top.”

I’m not sure there’s a sexist phrase that Limbaugh hasn’t used so I don’t know why you’d pretend to defend the slug.

Mike: “I’m thinking this post may be a setup to attack Congressman West…”

West is a hot headed idiot that whines and cries and complains to get attention. Most adults grow out of that as they get older but the Tea Party seemed to admire and target those traits in their conservatives the last election.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at July 21, 2011 5:21 PM
Comment #326192

We on the left need to not attack this crazy women. We need to try and legitimize her as much as we can as a symbol of the right. I for one am going to donate to her campaign.

Posted by: Jeff at July 21, 2011 7:46 PM
Comment #326193

“Tea Party seemed to admire and target those traits in their conservatives the last election.”

Posted by: Adam Ducker at July 21, 2011 05:21 PM

Yes Ducker, and wait till you see what happens next in 2012.

I think your boy in the WH is about to lose it. In fact I heard one commentator today say he didn’t think Obama wanted a second term; too much heat.

By the way, West is a decorated American hero, but I wouldn’t expect a socialist to understand patriotism.

Here’s a couple of studies reported just 20 days apart; what do you suppose it means?

“Democratic political candidates can skip this weekend’s July 4th parades. A new Harvard University study finds that July 4th parades energize only Republicans, turn kids into Republicans, and help to boost the GOP turnout of adults on Election Day.
“Fourth of July celebrations in the United States shape the nation’s political landscape by forming beliefs and increasing participation, primarily in favor of the Republican Party,” said the report from Harvard. [See political cartoons about the 2012 GOP field.]
“The political right has been more successful in appropriating American patriotism and its symbols during the 20th century. Survey evidence also confirms that Republicans consider themselves more patriotic than Democrats. According to this interpretation, there is a political congruence between the patriotism promoted on Fourth of July and the values associated with the Republican party. Fourth of July celebrations in Republican dominated counties may thus be more politically biased events that socialize children into Republicans,” write Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor David Yanagizawa-Drott and Bocconi University Assistant Professor Andreas Madestam.”


http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2011/06/30/harvard-july-4th-parades-are-right-wing

“Just a brief exposure to an image of the American flag shifts voters, even Democrats, to Republican beliefs, attitudes and voting behavior even though most don’t believe it will impact their politics, according to a new two-year study just published in the scholarly Psychological Science.

What’s more, according to three authors from the University Chicago, Cornell University and Hebrew University, the impact had staying power.

“A single exposure to an American flag resulted in a significant increase in participants’ Republican voting intentions, voting behavior, political beliefs, and implicit and explicit attitudes, with some effects lasting 8 months,” the study found. “These results constitute the first evidence that nonconscious priming effects from exposure to a national flag can bias the citizenry toward one political party and can have considerable durability.”

http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2011/07/20/shock-study-us-flag-only-boosts-gop


I guess this is why we find Republicans are more patriotic and support our military. Of course it’s always the libs that want to cut funding to military families.

Posted by: Mike at July 21, 2011 7:54 PM
Comment #326195

This is the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans will NEVER admit anything and instead will attack. Democrats will always chew each other as the first option. See Blue Dogs.

Posted by: Aldous at July 21, 2011 7:59 PM
Comment #326196

Mike,

You got proof of that? Proof that DOESN’T come from RightWing Thinktanks?

Posted by: Aldous at July 21, 2011 8:04 PM
Comment #326197

Mike,

“I’m thinking this post may be a setup to attack Congressman West (R-FL) for his attack on that vile idiot Congresswoman Wasserman (D-FL), as sexist remarks.”

Indeed. We all know the Republican position for Raped Women is to lay back and enjoy it.

Posted by: Aldous at July 21, 2011 8:10 PM
Comment #326198

Gee … if it weren’t for the fact that Michele Bachmann is the one who brought up her migraines in the first place, maybe you COULD hang this on “the liberal media.”

Or is confirming what she says now a “gotcha” question, too?

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at July 21, 2011 8:12 PM
Comment #326199

The attacks on Bachman about the chronic migraine problem came from right. This isn’t a sexist attack, it is a political attack from her from conservative rivals. Remember Tom Eagleton (depession), Dick Cheney (heart)? Those weren’t sexist. Tim Palwenty’s response to the issue was revealing. He said that the presidency was a 24/7 job. I just don’t see this as sexist, just political opportunism. Chronic and frequent migraines requiring hospitalization are a serious, incapacitating condition. It was a major issue in the past, divorced from any sexist components. Ulysses S. Grant had periods of incapacitation that were attributed to migraines. It was a real problem for him and his staff. Whether Bachman’s condition is under control is a legitimate question. It can be an incapacitating condition.


Posted by: Rich at July 21, 2011 8:19 PM
Comment #326200

Mike,

“You got proof of that? Proof that DOESN’T come from RightWing Thinktanks?”

Posted by: Aldous at July 21, 2011 08:04 PM

Aldous, I provided the links; one from Harvard and the other from University Chicago, Cornell University and Hebrew University. Do you need someone to read it for you?

Here is a good article, but I suppose he is a racist:

http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=288657#ixzz1Jxz2lPuD

Posted by: Mike at July 21, 2011 8:21 PM
Comment #326201

Mike-

Matthews went after Hillary back during the primaries. I’m not wrong about him; he’s an equal opportunity sexist.


Posted by: George at July 21, 2011 8:21 PM
Comment #326202

Yes George, Matthews went after Hillary, only because he was still reacting from that “tingly feeling” running up his legs, at the thought of Obama. Perhaps you could show me a pattern of going after liberal women, or was this just an isolated incident?

Posted by: Mike at July 21, 2011 8:34 PM
Comment #326216

Mike: “I think your boy in the WH is about to lose it.”

Boy? You mean our President?

“In fact I heard one commentator today say he didn’t think Obama wanted a second term; too much heat.”

That’s funny stuff. That’s about the only way the GOP can beat Obama with their current lineup of candidates.

“By the way, West is a decorated American hero, but I wouldn’t expect a socialist to understand patriotism.”

I’m no socialist, by the way. I respect West’s service to our country but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a hot headed jerk and a whiner. Timothy McVeigh won a Bronze Star for his service to our country and then might have been considered a decorated American hero. That doesn’t mean we can’t be critical of his personality traits or his actions, does it?

“Here’s a couple of studies reported just 20 days apart; what do you suppose it means?”

It means the GOP uses patriotism as a wedge issue just like abortion and gay marriage. The same people that are lead to believe that if they oppose abortion they cannot vote Democratic are the same people that highly value military service to our country and therefore believe they cannot vote for Democrats.

“Of course it’s always the libs that want to cut funding to military families.”

Source?

Posted by: Adam Ducker at July 22, 2011 9:18 AM
Comment #326217


Rich: “This isn’t a sexist attack, it is a political attack from her from conservative rivals.”

You bring up a good point. I wonder if the original anonymous source from Daily Caller had anything to do with a campaign. That’s highly possible given the cutthroat nature of these operations.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at July 22, 2011 9:20 AM
Comment #326221

mike,

“Just a brief exposure to an image of the American flag shifts voters, even Democrats, to Republican beliefs, attitudes and voting behavior even though most don’t believe it will impact their politics, according to a new two-year study just published in the scholarly Psychological Science.”

If this was the case then after September 11th, when American flags were flying as far as the eye could see, wouldn’t we all be Republicans?


Adam,

“It means the GOP uses patriotism as a wedge issue just like abortion and gay marriage.”

I disagree to a point.

I think the word patriotism, like the word socialism, has been misused so often that those on the right don’t really understand what either of the words actually mean.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at July 22, 2011 10:03 AM
Comment #326229

Rocky: “If this was the case then after September 11th, when American flags were flying as far as the eye could see, wouldn’t we all be Republicans?”

I think it speaks to the degree that we all lean left and right on different issues. Most of us anyway.

“I think the word patriotism, like the word socialism, has been misused so often that those on the right don’t really understand what either of the words actually mean.”

You’re right. It’s a bait and switch perhaps. There is a war to define what is American and what isn’t. Once your vision of America is etched in the minds of voters you can then suggest the other side is destroying America by opposing what you define is as American. Then patriotic urge to support and defend the nation kicks in to bring out the vote. I would argue that’s still a wedge issue but that’s just nitpicking.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at July 22, 2011 1:06 PM
Comment #326231

Adam,

“Once your vision of America is etched in the minds of voters you can then suggest the other side is destroying America by opposing what you define is as American.”

I would submit that we all support America, though there some on the right, and the left, that would shred the Constitution in order to support their narrow view of what “America” is, and just how to support it.

We here in the middle are the ones that have to deal with the consequences.

True Americans aren’t found at the fringes. Frankly I believe those that pander to the extremes, and we all know who they are, do this country a great disservice.

Unfortunately there are vast amounts of money to be made misusing the words “patriot”, and “socialist”, and the less discerning among us eat it up like candy.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at July 22, 2011 1:23 PM
Comment #326233


In America today, the most important think to know about patriotism is, our multinational corporations are exempt from such outdated notions. Like social spending and border guards, patriotism is one of the things that have outlived it’s usefulness other than as an ally of higher profits and lower taxes.

Posted by: jlw at July 22, 2011 2:21 PM
Comment #326236

jlw,

“In America today, the most important think to know about patriotism is, our multinational corporations are exempt from such outdated notions.”

But because of all of the American flags flying from corporate headquarters, you might think these were republican dominated corporations.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at July 22, 2011 3:06 PM
Comment #326248

RM said:

“We here in the middle are the ones that have to deal with the consequences.”

???, Oh, you mean you’re a moderate; hahahahehehehahaha

Your killing me with your jokes. hahaha

Posted by: Mike at July 22, 2011 8:53 PM
Comment #326255

mike,

“Your killing me with your jokes. hahaha”

Wow mike that’s the best you can do?

Of course you’re the moderate, and every one to the left of you are the extremeists.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at July 22, 2011 9:14 PM
Comment #326273

…… Sorry USA, I cant govern tonight, I have a headache…….

Posted by: Michael at July 23, 2011 7:38 AM
Comment #326290


Rocky, there may have been a time when the corporations where dominated by Republicans, but today, the Republicans and the Democrats are dominated by the corporations. Corporate money is dominant in our politics and it dominates free speech.

Posted by: jlw at July 23, 2011 2:14 PM
Comment #326293

jlw,

Sorry I neglected to turn the sarcasm alert. I was poking fun at the survey mike posted about exposure to the American flag.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at July 23, 2011 2:39 PM
Comment #326295


“We here in the middle are the ones that have to deal with the consequences.”

This country has swung to the right since the Carter Administration. This is especially true in regards to the corporate agenda and two big to fail.

How is it possible for the right to dominate much of the political agenda without being enabled by the center?

Now, it appears to me that those in the center are poised to let the poor suffer as much of the consequences as possible. Get rid of that tax burden on the center.

The center has endorsed huge tax cuts for the wealthy. They have allowed millions of middle class jobs to be exported, not to be replaced. The center has allowed millions of illegal immigrants into the country to help hold down wages. Wages that have been stagnant for decades.

Who should suffer the consequences of our governments actions if not the centrists?

And, the right tries to portray liberal centrists as socialists.

When you worship a false god, you become accustomed to having both manna and dung fall from the heavens intermittently.

Posted by: jlw at July 23, 2011 2:58 PM
Comment #326302

jlw,

“When you worship a false god, you become accustomed to having both manna and dung fall from the heavens intermittently.”

I surely hope you feel better, but I have no idea what your rant is about.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at July 23, 2011 8:06 PM
Comment #326305

“Now, it appears to me that those in the center are poised to let the poor suffer as much of the consequences as possible.”

I fear that you are right. The centrist position of Obama, that avowed socialist, is to accept significant social cuts demanded by the debt ceiling hostage takers in exchange for closing some tax revenue loopholes and subsidies but no tax increases. Huh! And to just rub some salt into the wound, the hostage takers are demanding more and walking out on discussions.

Posted by: Rich at July 23, 2011 8:52 PM
Comment #326306

Rich,

When faced with two evils how do you decide which is the lesser of the two?

Obama has been handed a pile of horses**t, and is expected to make ice cream. The mulishness of those on the right shows what they find staying in power more important than the economic health of the country.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at July 23, 2011 9:03 PM
Comment #326314

“The mulishness of those on the right shows what they find staying in power more important than the economic health of the country.”

Then you have to call their bluff. You cannot appease them. Giving in to their one sided, take all approach only emboldens them. Obama should simply end the negotiations and declare that he will not negotiate at the point of a gun. Period. Compromise under such circumstances is not reasoned agreement, it is appeasement. That, I believe, is jlw’s point about centrist positions over the past few decades.

Posted by: Rich at July 24, 2011 8:20 AM
Comment #326316

rocky

“Obama has been handed a pile of horses**t,”


yes and instead of cleaning it up, he has marched in 100 more horses.

” The mulishness of those on the right shows what they find staying in power more important than the economic health of the country.”


pot meet kettle.

Posted by: dbs at July 24, 2011 9:24 AM
Comment #326317

rocky

“When faced with two evils how do you decide which is the lesser of the two?”


the voters did that in the 2010 midterms.

Posted by: dbs at July 24, 2011 9:26 AM
Comment #326319

rich

“to accept significant social cuts demanded by the debt ceiling hostage takers in exchange for closing some tax revenue loopholes and subsidies but no tax increases.”


removing deductions, and subsidies raises ones tax liability. claiming no tax increases were offered is disengenuous.


“Compromise under such circumstances is not reasoned agreement, it is appeasement.”


giving in to raising the debt ceiling in return for spending cuts is not appeasment. it is spending that puts us in this situation on regular basis, and unfortunately someone has to put an end to the reckless spending. at some point the credit cards have to be cut up, and now is the best opportunity, and is why republicans won as many elections as they did last year.

Posted by: dbs at July 24, 2011 9:40 AM
Comment #326320

Rich,

Politics is compromise, and you can’t expect to get what you feel is best more than 50% of the time, because everybody else has a different view of what is best as well.
There has to be a balance. A government that lurches wildly between the extremes does not serve anybody. Holding your breath until you turn blue isn’t in the country’s best interest either.
Obama doesn’t just govern for those that elected him. If that is your point, IMHO you couldn’t be more wrong.

Allowing the sh*t to hit the fan only guarantees everybody, rich, and poor will get splattered.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at July 24, 2011 9:41 AM
Comment #326321

Rocky,

My point is simple. Nothing good will come out of negotiations at gun point. The threat is great and the temptation to get a deal done is compelling. However, when one party to a negotiation is willing to take it to the brink, you had better be able to stand the heat.

This isn’t about fair compromise. Its about extortion. Obama needs to take page from Clinton’s playbook of ‘96 and call the tea party. If the tea party doesn’t back down, he can then invoke his constitutional authority and raise the debt ceiling on his own to prevent default and let the courts sort it out. McConnell has hinted at that as a possible out. Clinton has recommended it if the extreme Republicans continue their extortion.

Posted by: Rich at July 24, 2011 10:19 AM
Comment #326322

dbs,

“pot meet kettle.”

The right wouldn’t know compromise if it bit them on the ass.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at July 24, 2011 10:20 AM
Comment #326323

rich

from what i understand boehner offered 800 billion in tax increases {not that it had a chance in hell of passing the house}, but obama then pushed for another 400 billion. that is when boehner realized obama was not genuine about compromise. at this point a temporary fix is all that appears to be possible.

the president needs to sit down and put his offer in writing, as well the senate who rejected cut, cap, and balance needs to actually pass a piece of legislation. we cannot realisticly do a long term deal without the legislation being written reviewed, passed in both houses, and signed by the president. we know from past experience that once the heat is off promises will be forgotten, and it will be business as usual.

Posted by: dbs at July 24, 2011 10:35 AM
Comment #326328

Like Boehner said yesterday of Fox News: “dealing with Obama is like dealing with a bowl of jello”. Unstable…

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