July 19th, 2011

Stop the presses! Michele Bachmann gets migraines!!!

Until someone else wins the Republican nomination, or until Michele Bachmann drops out of the running—whichever comes first—there will be a relentless drumbeat to destroy her. This much I know.

The latest salvo is the allegation that she gets severe migraines ( a couple of which may have sent her to the hospital) and that she takes medication for them. Aha! Unfit!

Forget the fact that she seems to have a lot of energy and seems to show up for work reliably. Forget that presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant had migraines, too, and they seemed competent enough. Forget that JFK was nearly incapacitated by Addison’s disease and took far worse medications on a daily basis than Bachmann does.

One of my first thoughts on hearing about the migraine charge against Bachmann is that it’s an affliction far more likely to be suffered by women than men. Indeed, 18 to 25% of women get them. Does that disqualify all of them from office? Or just the Republican ones?

I’m not the only one who’s noticed the female angle here. I was surprised to see that NY Magazine has taken it up, with an article entitled, “Is the Daily Caller’s Bachmann migraine story sexist?” The piece notes that Bachmann has some unlikely defenders:

…[such] as Mother Jones editors Clara Jeffrey and Monica Bauerlein [who] have suggested on Twitter that, reading between the lines, the Daily Caller’s article might be a little gender-biased: ” 2 to 1 that Bachmann’s pill popping = advil and estrogen. It’s called menopause, people. Survived by powerful women all over the world,” and “I think some of it was on the order of ‘she’s a girl.'” It’s similar to the way “flake” isn’t strictly a sexist ding but was read as one when applied to Bachmann.

No doubt these editors can’t stand Bachmann. But the accusations that she’s unfit for the presidency because of her migraines isn’t sitting well with them.

I have migraines myself, although fortunately (at least so far) they are not severe. But I know quite a few women who have really bad migraines. My late mother-in-law was one of them. Somehow she managed to hold down a job and run a large household despite the occasional nasty migraine, and was more than competent at both, and extremely energetic. I have little doubt that it’s the same for Bachmann.

And I have little doubt that more hit pieces will follow if Bachmann continues to surge.

11 Responses to “Stop the presses! Michele Bachmann gets migraines!!!”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    The argument from migraines is the new argument from menstruation.

  2. Lee Merrick Says:

    The Daily Caller story references a trip to SoCal last year and I happened to attend an event where she was the main speaker (May 14) the day after she arrived in LA. She was about 2 hours late because she was not feeling well. The organizers rearranged the schedule to accommodate her late arrival. Bachmann did attend, but clearly she did not feel well. However she gave one hellava speech and seemed to gain strength the longer she spoke. I was quite impressed with her fortitude.

  3. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    Didn’t Churchill have a saying about how most people did their best work despite physical pain and weakness?

    Neo, you’re a big Churchill fan do you know this one?

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    DirtyJobsGuy: no, I’m not familiar with that quote.

    Churchill, of course, was subject to episodic depression.

  5. Curtis Says:

    Makes me admire her all the more.

    I knew a woman who had suffered so severely from migraine headaches that it had destroyed her life. That was her perception and she was bitter about it.

    If Bachmann has met this problem and learned how to manage it, and has accomplished all she has, I consider that a triumph. I hope this attack really backfires, and it may, because how many people out there suffer from one sort of disorder or dsyfunction? Doesn’t depressive disorder afflict nearly 15% of the populace?

  6. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    Venderleun: you beat me to it!

    I’m reminded more and more of a movie, “First Monday ion October”, about the first woman on the Supreme Court (which was a far-out idea when the movie was being made, but had become reality at the time the movie was in the theaters). Jill Clayburgh is the young female conservative; Walter Matthau is the crotchety old male liberal.

    Early on in the movie, Clayburgh is asked by a reporter if her judgments on the bench will be affected by the fact that she’s a woman. Menstruation is not mentioned in the question, but she answers as though it had been, saying that she was confident women could ovulate and think at the same time.

    Jerry Pournelle once wrote that an important side of history, one almost completely neglected, was the infirmity overcome (or not) by world leaders. I believe he gave the example of Elizabeth I and the Spanish Armada, which happened at a time when she was suffering from severe toothaches. (Would she have made different decisions otherwise? We may never know.) As others have commented, Lincoln and his depression, Kennedy and his painkillers, and other examples are quite relevant here.

    Nonetheless — I’d feel a lot better about all this if we knew half as much about President Obama as we do about Candidate Bachmann. (Now that’s a campaign ad I’d like to see: the different Republican candidates, with lists of publicly-available information about them — GPAs, references, travel info, voting records, past medical problems — given side-by-side with President Obama, about whom we know none of these things. Perhaps it would end with a slogan e.g. “If he won’t let you get to know him, don’t vote for him.”)

    Daniel in Brookline

  7. Parker Says:

    “The argument from migraines is the new argument from menstruation.”

    She’s in her mid-50s and this makes her unfit because she is one of the following: a) premenopausal, d) menopausal, or c) postmenopausal. Everyone knows how irrational conservative women get in the thralls of a hot flash and lets not forget those wild hormonal tea party mood swings.

  8. rickl Says:

    While I don’t wish poor health on anybody, perhaps we would all be better off if Obama got migraines now and then, and was incapacitated as a consequence. It would be a brief but welcome respite from his relentless, full-bore radicalism.

  9. Francesca Says:

    Daniel in Brookline:

    Great idea for a powerful campaign ad!

  10. Richard Aubrey Says:

    It was said that a French king–forget which one–had different policies “apres la fistule”, which seems likely when you think about it.
    Both Churchill and Lincoln had the “black dog” that followed them about.
    FDR was a cripple.

  11. Paul_In_Houston Says:

    And I have little doubt that more hit pieces will follow if Bachmann continues to surge.


    Really want to know who the Democrats fear the most? Best way to get a handle on that is to see who they attack most.

    You don’t waste your ammunition on someone who doesn’t really matter.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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