• Wed, Jul 20 2011

Is ‘Migraine’ Code For ‘Lady Parts’ In Latest Michele Bachmann Charge?

I’m not a fan of politicians in general and have no problem with people bashing candidates. But there’s something kind of troubling about some of the ways people are piling on Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. First it was her former religious afilliation — we all know how radical midwestern Lutherans are! — and yesterday rumors began swirling that Bachmann was unfit for the presidency because she gets bad migraines. I wish I was kidding:

“She has terrible migraine headaches. And they put her out of commission for a day or more at a time. They come out of nowhere, and they’re unpredictable,” says an adviser to Bachmann who was involved in her 2010 congressional campaign. “They level her. They put her down. It’s actually sad. It’s very painful.”

Bachmann’s medical condition wouldn’t merit public attention, but for the fact she is running for president. Some close to Bachmann fear she won’t be equal to the stress of the campaign, much less the presidency itself.

“When she gets ‘em, frankly, she can’t function at all. It’s not like a little thing with a couple Advils. It’s bad,” the adviser says. “The migraines are so bad and so intense, she carries and takes all sorts of pills. Prevention pills. Pills during the migraine. Pills after the migraine, to keep them under control. She has to take these pills wherever she goes.”

Note that the people making these accusations won’t go on record with their real names. That’s never a good sign. Now objecting to Bachmann’s politics is perfectly legitimate; heaven knows there are things about her beliefs that bother me. But I can’t be the only one that thinks this latest attack is rather sexist. I mean, migraines? The problem that one in ten Americans have? It’s almost as if the headlines should read, “Person with Lady Parts Gets the Vapors!”

Again, if you don’t like Bachmann feel free to not vote for her and even actively campaign against her. But at the end of the day, Bachmann has a law degree, has been in politics for 20 years, and perhaps most notably, Bachmann and has five children and has provided foster care for an additional 23 other kids. If her headaches really are so debilitating, it’s kind of shocking she’s been able to function at such a high level for so long, eh? Or if these lady headaches (women get migraine’s at a rate three times higher than men) are all about women’s inability to handle stress, how come she’s not in the hospital right now? Instead of releasing an “all clear” from her doctor?

It’s not just that personal attacks — instead of those based on actual disagreements in political approach — coarsen the public square. It’s also that they reinforce these ideas that mothers are fragile and barely able to handle “real” work. Again, if the headaches didn’t keep her from working in politics for 20 years while obtaining advanced degrees and raising a bunch of kids, is this really something to focus on? Or is it just our way of saying “conservative ladies scare me”? Even the National Organization for Women — no big fan of conservative women — was saying as much yesterday.

Stick to the issues, folks, and leave the “mental health” attacks back in the gutter

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