Skip to comments.Bachmann: The XX Factor - Is sexism to blame for the MN Congresswoman's decline in popularity?
Posted on 01/06/2012 5:17:57 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Have we lost ye, Michele Bachmann?
The answer would seem to be yes, as the sharp-tongued, googly-eyed Minnesota Congresswoman suspended her presidential campaign after receiving only five per cent of the Iowa Caucus vote in the state where she was born.
To put that in perspective, Michele Bachmann only got 6,000 more votes in Iowa than Johann Sebastian Bach. It was the culmination of a stunning turn of events over the past few months, after her candidacy surged when she won the Iowa straw poll in August.
Soon afterwards, however, her poll numbers went south faster than General William Tecumseh Sherman. Why did that happen? And what does it tell us about the vestiges of sexism still present in our political culture as a whole, and specifically on display among the far-right Christian conservatives currently dominating the Republican Party? A lot, actually.
As someone who looked upon the possibility of a Bachmann presidency with much the same anticipatory glee as I would walking barefoot up Mount Everest or drinking Liquid Drano, one might not expect me to possess even an ounce of sympathy for the Congresswoman.
Sure, I think she's a few kernels short of a corn dog, but then again I am of much the same opinion about Newt Gingrich and either of the Praying Ricks (Santorum and Perry). To base Republican voters, however, preemptively bombing Iran, giving Ryan Seacrest tax cuts on Ascot purchases and sowing firearms into one's forelimbs are likely a part of the panoply of "ideas".
So loony musings were not why Bachmann was kicked to the curb.
But I have a sneaking suspicion that gender - and, specifically, Bachmann's lack of a Y chromosome - had a lot to do with it. According to Taylor Marsh, author of The Hillary Effect: Politics, Sexism & The Destiny of Loss: "Once Rick Perry rode in, Bachmann was ignored. By virtue of his macho Texan maleness, he was automatically elevated, even as her debate performances remained stellar."
Or to put it the way writer Michelle Goldberg did in The Daily Beast: "She stumped as much as Santorum, had staff problems no worse than Gingrichs and made lesser gaffes than Perry."
So how was it that the Texas Two Thought stole her thunder when he entered the race?
Many Christian Right leaders and the voters who dominate the primary in Iowa preach women's submission, so is it really a stretch to believe they thought a female politician should adopt the same role? The optics were certainly there, when during a debate on "family issues" in November, almost out of instinct or perhaps expectation, Bachmann got up to pour water for her male colleagues seated around a table on the stage with her.
There was plenty of other evidence, such as when the Union County, Iowa GOP Chair told an AP reporter, "I've noticed that when her name is mentioned sometimes that there's a lot of men that wouldn't vote for a woman."
Some of Bachmann's advisers agreed with this sentiment.
Comedian and fellow Minnesotan Lizz Winstead - who has toured for Planned Parenthood and is passionate about women's issues - went so far as to tell me, "when I put my tinfoil hat on, I almost think they push forward women of no substance like Bachmann and [Sarah] Palin, because [women such as] Olympia Snowe and Kay Bailey Hutchinson might actually succeed".
When I put my tinfoil hat on I also suspect similar things, but no "conspiracy theories" are even necessary for me to conclude that sexism still plays an active role in our politics - particularly on the extreme right of the GOP.
Cliff Schecter is the President of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm, the author of the 2008 bestseller The Real McCain, and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.
“Is sexism to blame for the MN Congresswoman’s decline in popularity?”
No, her mouth is.
“Many Christian Right leaders and the voters who dominate the primary in Iowa preach women’s submission”
I mean, REALLY????
No, it was her gaffes. She was right on the issues, but embarrassments like her Elvis gaffe made it difficult to even defend, much less support her.
Why even raise the question?
How does Cliff describe/reference Michelle Obama? Oh; to find those quotes. . . no doubt they w.ill not resemble anything found in this story
Her gaffes were minor compared to those of B. Obama and the members of his administration. M. Bachmann did well in debates.
Looks like Al Jazz has hired a liberal journalism grad to explain the reasons why the GOP is sexist. Seems to me it wasn’t gender, but a spectrum of other issues...
It doesn’t matter. She left with poise and respect. I think now we need to support her on the reelection to the House. One thing is for sure. We need her badly in the House. It would be a shame to lose her in the House because she wasn’t great at running for President.....she is great in the House.
Not only that, but Islam and the Left both have such good records on sexism.
Show me one male politician EVER referred to as “googly-eyed”. EVER. Makes me so mad I could spit.
This author had a website in 2008 dedicated to showing what a radical right wing extremist John McCain was. That should tell you where he’s coming from.
There are two things that I believe worked to her disadvantage.
First, I think the electorate is very suspicious of people in politics who say, repeatedly, ad infinitum, over and over, and then say it again, that "I am not a politician." It sounds very disingenuous to tell people that you are not a politician when that is precisely what you seem to have been called to do. Own it. We don't dislike politicians per se. We despise those who practice on the dark side of that art.
Second, speaking of art, every politician has a stump speech. They have a message that they or their advisors have determined is what they need to get out. So, they repeat things over and over, hoping that the message will stick. The best at the political arts are able to get that message across without sounding like they have a few programmed response lines recorded in their voice box. For whatever reason, that is what she sounded like. A Chatty Cathy doll with a string you pull and pre-recorded sentences come out.
That probably sounds unfair, especially since I firmly believe that she is a person with serious depth and intellect, but, for whatever reason--fatigue, bad advice, who knows-- her language seldom rose above the level of platitude. Thus her speeches and her response to questions sounded more like robo-calls than live language.
One of the reasons I was glad Sarah Palin did not run is because she has the same platitude problem (with some syntactical disorder thrown in.) Like Michele she is very smart, very passionate and I would happily vote for her if she were the nominee. Frankly, Romney and Perry suffer from the same malady.
The only two candidates (IMHO) who don't seem to speak in perpetual platitudes are Gingrich and Santorum. They do say the same things over and over but it does not always seems so. (Happily Newt has gotten over his "Callista and I" verbal tick.)
We don't need platitudes. We need serious solutions from serious candidates with their brains fully engaged. Obama speaks in platitudes but as the last election demonstrated, he is so good at it that too many people failed to notice they were hearing empty phrases.
Al Jazeera combating sexism has as much credibility as Planned Parenthood combating abortion.
I couldn't believe it myself...pathetic
i’m depressed she didn’t work out.
She has some good ideas and i like her positions on a lot of things.
Also, we haven’t elected ANYONE with just “House member” on their government resume since 1860. Everyone else has been a governor, general, senator or vice president or combination of those things.
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