What Was Chris Wallace Driving At?

June 27, 2011

I was disappointed that Chris Wallace asked Michele Bachmann whether she is a flake, but Wallace’s behavior is hardly the most important issue involved. What he was trying to get at is another matter.

It is no secret that a good number of people regard Bachmann as a loose cannon who is given to gaffes and hyperbole. And it’s not just Bachmann.

Indeed, there is an enormous elephant in the room of GOP presidential politics, which is that despite their individual popularity, both female contenders, Bachmann and Sarah Palin, are dismissed in many circles as cartoon characters.

I’m the last person who wants to inject identity politics into any equation, but I can’t help but wonder what role, if any, their gender may be playing here — not just that they’re females but also that they’re attractive ones.

Though I doubt these are major factors for most people, they are for some. In fact, a number of females have suggested that other women react negatively to Palin — and presumably to Bachmann, as well — specifically because they are women.

In other critics I detect a type of soft sexism leading to a stronger reaction to their gaffes than to, say, Obama’s. They regard their mistakes (or supposed mistakes) as disqualifying while casually overlooking far worse errors from the Harvard-educated Obama. Bachmann and Palin are panned as inexperienced and lacking gravitas despite their records and accomplishments, and Obama is treated as a heavyweight despite his miserable record and voluminous verbal blunders.

But much bigger factors driving the media narrative against Palin and Bachmann than their female attractiveness are their common personal and ideological characteristics. They are both fearless, combative, energizing and unqualified conservatives. Don’t get me wrong; they are two very different people, but these shared qualities make them especially contemptible to the left and to certain elitists on the right.

Bachmann and Palin happen to be among the most conservative of the GOP field, and leftists and elitists routinely cast conservatives as a dozen fries short of a Happy Meal. They consider Reagan conservatives — just as they regarded Reagan in his day — dangerous extremists and insufficiently nuanced for prime time.

Those who pull no punches in challenging the Beltway dogma that got us into this calamity are quickly shunted aside by the elites. But they are adored by mainstream Americans, who are unencumbered by the numbing realities of Washington that prevent far too many career politicians from taking immediate action to reverse our nationally suicidal course.

So if you think Palin, Bachmann and other such candidates sound exercised and frustrated at times, you should be grateful because that is precisely how they ought to sound. We should be far more concerned with those who are taking this national nightmare in stride. Where are their hearts?

The fact is that both Bachmann and Palin are far more qualified and dispositionally equipped to be president than Barack Obama. Both have acquitted themselves very well in debates; Palin has a very impressive executive record, with plenty of gravitas (see “The Undefeated”), and Bachmann has powerful academic credentials.

I realize that some conservatives believe that Palin and Bachmann are unelectable or not particularly qualified for one reason or another. But even here, I think we are allowing the liberal media to control the narrative.

Who can seem electable after the media get done savaging them? And what mainstream conservatives do the media not savage? Conversely, look at how they treat the Republican candidates who pay homage to global warming and other leftist pieties. Why are they always deemed electable?

We must reject the conventional wisdom that in general, only a centrist can be elected. But this is especially true of 2012, when all bets are off because we are facing an unprecedented national crisis that has been given to us by the very politicians accepted by the conventional wisdom as bursting with presidential DNA.

The voters are smart enough to know that centrism won’t save this nation. If elected, a centrist Republican would not only fail to energize the base; he most likely wouldn’t do what it will take to reverse this crisis.

If anyone should be worried about his extremism, it’s Obama, yet we hear nothing about that from the media or the elites. Despite their cover-up, the world’s worst-kept secret is that Obama is a disaster and is in deep trouble with the electorate.

Finally, for those who persist in misjudging Obama as unrivaled in mental acuity, please consider that you are using the wrong yardstick. In electing a president, wisdom and sound judgment are vastly more important than raw intelligence.

All of the GOP candidates have more than enough intelligence to serve as chief executive, far more common sense and wisdom than Obama, and an incomparably better handle on the steps necessary to preserve the republic and the willingness to take them.