Michele Bachmann: Cover Girl or Serious Politician?

Published by Joyce Jones on Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 4:15 pm.

Much ado has been made this week about the wild-eyed photo of GOP presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann that adorns the cover of Newsweek’s Aug. 15 issue. It also includes the tagline: Queen of Rage, which editor Tina Brown has explained refers to the presidential hopeful’s ties to the Tea Party. Critics have called the photograph sexist and downright mean and they include people who might not otherwise stand up for the Tea Party darling, such as comedian John Stewart and the National Organization of Women.

“It’s sexist,” NOW president Terry O’Neill told the Daily Caller. “Casting her in that expression and then adding ‘The Queen of Rage,’ I think [it is].  Gloria Steinem has a very simple test: If this were done to a man or would it ever be done to a man,  has it ever been done to a man? Surely this has never been done to a man.”

That’s not true, and unflattering photos of politicians are a part of the game, a fact understood by Bachmann, who’s not bothered about the Newsweek cover. I seen her on Capitol Hill regularly and can honestly say she’s far better looking in person than in any photograph I’ve ever seen of her and she makes that expression a lot. And I wonder: If she were not a strikingly attractive woman there would be so much fuss?

Indeed, there has been so much outrage over the photo that little has been said about the article in which she is featured and “the gulf between her rhetoric and record” that it points out. Bachmann is, for example, always crying out for smaller government and the sin of excess government spending. But who wanted stimulus funds for local Minnesota projects? Bachmann. Whose family farm has received more than $250,000 in federal agriculture funds? That would be the one owned Bachmann’s in-laws, in which she had a financial stake. And what about her Tea Party politics that would have allowed the nation to sink into default during the debt-ceiling battle?

O’Neill and others should ask themselves this: If a similar photo of a man appeared on the cover of the newsweekly, would people really have all that much to say? And isn’t it sexist to make a big deal over the Newsweek cover, simply because Bachmann is a woman?

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