It is no secret that a good number of people regard Bachmann as a loose cannon who is given to gaffes and hyperbole. And it's not just Bachmann.
Indeed, there is an enormous elephant in the room of GOP presidential politics, which is that despite their individual popularity, both female contenders, Bachmann and Sarah Palin, are dismissed in many circles as cartoon characters.
I'm the last person who wants to inject identity politics into any equation, but I can't help but wonder what role, if any, their gender may be playing here -- not just that they're females but also that they're attractive ones.
Though I doubt these are major factors for most people, they are for some. In fact, a number of females have suggested that other women react negatively to Palin -- and presumably to Bachmann, as well -- specifically because they are women.
In other critics I detect a type of soft sexism leading to a stronger reaction to their gaffes than to, say, Obama's. They regard their mistakes (or supposed mistakes) as disqualifying while casually overlooking far worse errors from the Harvard-educated Obama. Bachmann and Palin are panned as inexperienced and lacking gravitas despite their records and accomplishments, and Obama is treated as a heavyweight despite his miserable record and voluminous verbal blunders.
But much bigger factors driving the media narrative against Palin and Bachmann than their female attractiveness are their common personal and ideological characteristics. They are both fearless, combative, energizing and unqualified conservatives. Don't get me wrong; they are two very different people, but these shared qualities make them especially contemptible to the left and to certain elitists on the right.
Bachmann and Palin happen to be among the most conservative of the GOP field, and leftists and elitists routinely cast conservatives as a dozen fries short of a Happy Meal. They consider Reagan conservatives -- just as they regarded Reagan in his day -- dangerous extremists and insufficiently nuanced for prime time.
Those who pull no punches in challenging the Beltway dogma that got us into this calamity are quickly shunted aside by the elites. But they are adored by mainstream Americans, who are unencumbered by the numbing realities of Washington that prevent far too many career politicians from taking immediate action to reverse our nationally suicidal course.
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