Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are both talking about Presidential runs next year. They are both women and both active members of the Tea Party, but beyond their long hair and female parts, the two women are not the same. So why is everyone trying to make their run into a girl fight?
We have a few other potential Republican candidates for 2012, the three most talked about so far include former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney; Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty, the "cool candidate."
But, of course, as it looks more and more like Sarah Palin may actually run, the potential female candidates are getting pitted against one another. I am no fan of either Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin, but when Bachmann told George Stephanopoulos that she and Palin were friends and he kept pushing the issue on Good Morning America, it struck a nerve. See below:
Regardless of whether one agrees with Bachmann or Palin, they ought to be judged on the content of what they say and also not against one another, but against the whole candidate pool, including Barack Obama. To her credit, Bachmann did point this out, telling Stephanopoulos:
My comparison is ultimately to Barack Obama. I created a successful company. I’m a tax litigation attorney. I’ve raised 28 children in my home. I’ve had a number of wide experiences that I bring to the table and that’s my comparison.
Good for her. But like Hillary Clinton's run before, she will have to watch this undermining throughout her campaign as it happens in subtle ways.
It happens when Stephanopoulos lightly jokes about her presidential run being a "cure for empty nest syndrome." It happens when she is asked several time how she feels about Palin and how she is any different than her. Do people ask Pawlenty about his children? Do they ask Romney to differentiate himself from Gingrich? Why does no one question the friendship (or non friendship) of two men running?
The inherent tone is condescending and trivializing. The idea: "Aren't these little homemakers cute looking up from their baking to run against each other in their cute little election. Let's ask them about their children and then quickly get back to asking the men about policies."
Palin and Bachmann are not people I would ever vote for. Yes, I would rather see candidates who support a woman's right to choose and understand a bit more about history and generally cared more about the things I care about -- things like universal health insurance and the environment and the cost of education and childcare. But just because I would never vote for them does not mean they should be taken less seriously because they are mothers and women.
It is subtle, but it is there. Stephanopoulos is not a sexist pig or anything of the sort, but his line of questioning is subtly sexist. It is undermining and even while the comparison may feel inevitable. It would be nice to see the media get away from wanting to get their "girl fight" soundbite and looking more at each potential candidate for who they are and what they bring to the table.
Until then, no female candidate really stands a chance, whether she is qualified or not.
Do you think the media focus on a made up "girl fight" is obnoxious?
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