"Are you a flake?"
With that question on "Fox News Sunday" to Rep. Michele Bachmann, Chris Wallace may have given a rallying cry to the new feminist revolution in American politics. Except the f-word will likely be nowhere in evidence.
Wallace apologized, and in a sense the whole kerfuffle is over -- but only for him. He was only hitching onto the mainstream media's presentation of Bachmann, as a dim bulb, leaving the three-term congresswoman and former tax attorney to have to explain to him "I'm a serious person."
That she is such is why Wallace and Bachmann were even having the conversation in the first place. She's a contender for the Republican nomination for the president, one who turned out an impressive performance during the first presidential debate.
The Wallace question encapsulates the attitude that drives Bachmann defenders mad. There's something more than a wee bit patronizing about the treatment of Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin.
"What did Bachmann do to set the lefty blogs afire today?" my colleague Jim Geraghty recently asked. "Split an infinitive? Dangle a participle? Order red wine with fish? Wear white after Labor Day?" As Democrat Kirsten Powers recently noted: "If Joe Biden's gaffes had received half the attention of Bachmann's, nobody would take him seriously, either."
It's so way beyond Joe. Former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos, now an anchor for "Good Morning America," asked Bachmann in an attempt to "gotcha" her: "You said that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery."
She explained: "Well if you look at one of our Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams, that's absolutely true. He was a very young boy when he was with his father serving essentially as his father's secretary. He tirelessly worked throughout his life to make sure that we did in fact one day eradicate slavery ... "
Stephanopoulos would not let it go. "He wasn't one of the Founding Fathers -- he was a president, he was a secretary of state, he was a member of Congress; you're right he did work to end slavery decades later. But so you are standing by this comment that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery?"
Bachmann may have misfired on the wording, but this minute hair-splitting was getting ridiculous. She wound down the history lesson with grace: "Well, John Quincy Adams most certainly was a part of the Revolutionary-War era. He was a young boy, but he was actively involved."
Seriously? The United States of America is in danger of default and this is what "Good Morning America" is going rounds with a presidential candidate on? She may not win Trivial Pursuit, but that's not the competition she's in.