Jonathan Chait at NYMag‘s Daily Intel raised a horror I had not previously imagined:
… Michele Bachmann is a member of the [Romney] team as well. After her presidential bubble faded, Bachmann now seems to be hoping for a spot as Romney’s vice-presidential candidate. Accordingly, she joined Paul in assailing Gingrich and largely leaving Romney untouched. Byron York reports that Romney is sending signals of encouragement to her to keep up the good proxy work:
And afterward, Romney aides were happy to put in a good word for the congresswoman from Minnesota. “Michele Bachmann is good,” Stevens volunteered. “She is good. She’s cogent, she’s smart, unflappable — she must have been a heck of a lawyer. Very, very good. Very strong.” The message to Bachmann: Keep at it.
Obviously, you’d have to be delusional to think that Romney would put a massive liability like Bachmann on his ticket. Luckily for him, Bachmann is delusional.
Well, yes, Mr. Chait, but then, Romney is… not very clueful about the range of emotional behavior we humans call “normal”, is he? Assuming that Romney is merely stringing Bachmann along implies that he (or someone among his handlers) doesn’t believe that Bachmann can bring along the Evangelical voters, and yet she does seem to be popular with her fellow Dominionists. With any other candidate, it could be argued that playing McCain 2012 to Bachmann’s Palin-Mk-II would be a level of pandering too undignified for anyone certain to garner a minimum 40% of the national vote just by virtue of being the Not-Democrat. But Willard’s done his best to make it clear to the meanest intelligence that “dignity” is a concept he’ll willingly shed in return for even a handful of votes.
What bugs me most about this possibility, however distant, is that I feel it would be a nasty setback for all female politicians. The odds of President Obama crushing Romney — which are, IMO, quite good anyway — increase sharply if Romney sets himself up as “the less attractive version of that guy Obama beat last time”. And while Romney’s loss will immediately damage only Willard and perhaps the most visible of the handlers helping him waste his kids’ inheritance, such a “bipartisan” failure by a female politician will be spun, by politics-as-sporting-events analysts and the low information voters they cater to, as the third item on a trend line: If neither Palin nor Bachmann nor That-Woman-Who-Lost-to-Obama-in-the-2008-Primary can defeat The-Black-Guy-with-the-Middle-Name-Hussein, then maybe women just aren’t ready to compete at the top level, eh?
Yes, it’s a surpassingly stupid construction, but you have to admit it’s just the sort of stupid that Fox News will happily mainstream for its geezer demographic, with the avid assistance of every David Brooks and Ross Doubthat…