No, actually. No girl fight.
As most of us know, Minnesota Congresswoman and American history mangler Michele Bachmann is running for President. She’s announced this two or three times now and she’s on the road either announcing it more or raising money in primary states as we speak. That’s a good thing because while she’s out of DC announcing things, she’s not in DC trying to horn in on the debt ceiling talks. Michele Bachmann is one of those legislators who’s better at her job when she’s not doing it, ya know?
Anyway, Representative Bachmann is a reliable conservative mouthpiece who’s fond of talking about Tea Party stuff on the floor of the House, on tv, and on the radio. She’s a prodigious fundraiser and darling of the anti-tax, socially conservative, far right. And she gives the appearance of being batshit crazy. But she’s a US citizen and she’s over 35 years old so she can run for Preisdent and no one can tell her not to. So nyah.
What’s disgusting is how the media is covering the Bachmann Presidential run. For one thing, they’re covering it at all. Bachmann is basically a fringe candidate who’s like a right-wing Dennis Kucinich in her policy positions. Candidates as far out of the mainstream as she is usually get treated like sideshow attractions by the press. The attention Bachmann is getting is far outsized considering her minimal role in the actual national legislative process thus far: she’s never chaired a committee or subcommittee, most of the legislation she’s introduced has died before committee consideration, and she doesn’t hold any sort of party leadership position. She’s a noisemaker, not a wave maker. So why is she being covered so avidly?
Well, she’s good looking. And she’s a woman. She’s a loud, conservative, good-looking woman. Is the media biased in favor of pretty people? Yes. They are. And they’re showing it with every clip of Bachmann they run.
The other aspect of the Bachmann-mania is her similarities and associations with another loud, conservative , good-looking woman: Sarah Palin. The media has been stirring the pot, hoping for a Palin/Bachmann catfight for weeks. Even Bachmann knows that’s true and said as much this week. Admirably, Bachmann isn’t looking to fuel that fire (and mark this as a rare moment of me saying “admirable” and “Bachmann” in the same sentence). The Palin camp, however, is making forays into the mud-wrestling ring with Bristol talking about how Bachmann “copied” her mom’s style. Not her political style. Her clothes. As if they’re running for Miss Republican Party.
No. No, no, no. Nonononononono!
No political girl fights! No, no, no! This is not Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton, here. This is a Member of a Congress and a former governor, both of whom wield some influence in national discourse, no matter how weird and misguided their positions may be. They are ostensibly serious people taking on serious tasks and we need to analyze them under that light. If we are going to criticize them, compare them, discuss them in the same breath, we need to focus on their records and their proposals, not their hair or the color of their clothes.
And if they’re both moonbat crazy and unfit for office (hint: I think they are), we need to acknowledge that upfront and IGNORE EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT THEM. Nothing matters except the content of their characters, ok?
Women have been working for a hundred years to get a seat at the table in this nation. They finally have it. There are women in politics, both Democrats and Republicans, who are smart, accomplished, and good servants to their constituencies. And you don’t know their names because they’re not hot enough or not loud enough or not controversial enough to get coverage. Instead you get fawning attention paid to the pretty girls. You think I’m over-reacting? You think I’m seeing sexism in the media where none exists? OK. Name one average-looking female elected official who gets the kind of attention Palin and Bachmann got, even before 2012 GOP Bingo started. Yeah. that’s what I thought.
DC used to be called Hollywood for ugly people and that was a good thing. This town should be a meritocracy, where people rise based on their accomplishments. Looks should not matter here. Gender should not matter here. Ideas should be the currency we use, the media should seek out the smartest of the smart and follow them from room to room in the hopes that we’ll catch a glimpse of higher-level thinking in action. We should not follow the most camera-ready and encourage their thoughtless babble hopes of catching an entertaining soundbyte. Ratings may drop but maybe, just maybe, the country would be better for it.