A bad reason, and a good reason, to oppose Bachmann

Bad reason: The Daily Caller tries to spin her migraines into substance abuse.

Good reason: Her campaign staff roughs up a reporter for asking questions.

Even if it hadn’t been published in the Daily Caller, I would give only minimal weight to the latest hit-piece on Michelle Bachmann.

Yes, the Presidency is a demanding job, which means that candidates’ medical history is relevant information for voters. And yes, it’s possible to have such debilitating migraines as to be a disqualification for the job. But the story doesn’t really make that case, and the snide reference to “pill use” is really over the top.

However, a Mafia-like approach to inquiring reporters is a different matter.

Footnote And yes, one could hope that the Bachmann-friendly wingnuts outraged by the DC story would draw the proper inference when the DC picks on one of its usual liberal targets. But one would hope largely in vain.

Bonus question Was the DC just doing routine tabloid hackery without any ulterior political motive, or were they carrying water for the Romneyites or – more plausibly – for Rick Perry, the official wingnut-waiting-in-the-wings-for-Bachmann-to-stumble?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

6 thoughts on “A bad reason, and a good reason, to oppose Bachmann”

  1. Also I am told that most migraine sufferers are women. So there’s that. People make a lot of PMS jokes, too. I think it is unquestionably harder physically to be female, on average, but there can be good things too that come from that.

  2. “I think it is unquestionably harder physically to be female, on average”

    Given that they live longer, this seems hardly an “unquestionable” statement.
    Now it could be that this is PURELY because men engage in more jack-assery, from war to crime to motorbikes to substance abuse. But I’ve never heard a claim to that effect except in some extreme cases (eg post-soviet Russia).

  3. I take disability issues very seriously, but I think you’re way off base in talking about this issue. I believe in making accommodations for everyone’s impairments. Being president is a big job, however, and I think it’s fair to ask for disclosure about candidates’ health issues. If Bachman has a history of migraines that incapacitate her for days at a time, that should be public knowledge. How frequent have they been? If she has controlled these migraines by medication, is her current state stable? I wouldn’t say that this illness unfits her for office — would Lincoln, with his history of depressive episodes, be savaged by the contemporary press. I would say that her impairment is an appropriate matter for public discussion.

    I don’t think disability should be stigmatized, but I also think people with disabilities ought to be open about their disabilities where they are relevant. I’ve taken steps to “pass,” to hide my disabilities, in situations where I fear I’ll encounter irrational prejudice. But I think that if my impairments were relevant to an important job that it would be incumbent on me to disclose.

  4. Brainz: if the migraines take up that much time, then yes I would agree. But I sure wouldn’t want anyone to vote against someone based just on the idea that they might have a few more bad days than someone else. A person is a whole package, and often going through suffering *can* make someone wiser. It doesn’t always, but it can.

    Maynard: no, I was referring to the sex-related differences in life experience. As in, suffering that will happen to you regardless of what you do or don’t do. But of course no one could *prove* it, since we only seem to get once around. I would be surprised though if many men were to argue the point, it seems that obvious to me.

  5. Migraines are not just “bad days”. A “bad day” is stubbing your toe, or spilling coffee down your shirt front. The migraine headaches that I get feel like the monster from the Alien movies is chewing its way through my head, slowly. They are accompanied by EXTREME sensitivity to light (as in, any light hurts like hell), nausea, and sometimes vomiting. There’s medication I take when one begins, but all that takes care of is the head pain. All the other symptoms are still there, though somewhat reduced. Even with meds, I’m exhausted and drained for hours after one of these attacks is over. It’s incredibly hard to focus on much of anything when I’m feeling like this, and I’ve noticed I often make bad snap decisions at these times just so I can stop discussing the issue, because it hurts.

    Also, for some people, one of the triggers that lights off a migraine is — stress. But of course no President is ever under stress . . .

  6. NCG. I wasn’t trying to be pissy. My point was simply that, empirically, things seem rather different from what “common sense” suggests.

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