Monday, July 25, 2011

Mommy for President!

There are a million ridiculous factors by which we judge a presidential candidate's ability to run the country: charisma, attractiveness, faith, height, weight, hair color.

This is why a Rush Limbaugh or some other angry, ugly, fanatical, short, fat, and bald man would never succeed in a national race for public office. It's why even the coiffed Newt Gingrich struggles to maintain a staff for his presidential campaign. It's why Dick Cheney had to play the role of Number Two in Junior's administration.

To a lesser extent, legislative records matter, too, as do experience and vision, passion and ­(depending on party affiliation) eloquence.

You know what doesn't matter? Child-bearing abilities.

For almost a quarter of a millennium, the wise voters of this great country have elected presidents without a single thought to that man's ability to squeeze cone-headed offspring from his loins.

Even in 2008, when Hilary Rodham Clinton nearly captured the Democratic presidential nomination, there wasn't a word about her child-rearing skills. She exercised those skills only once, mind you, but that's one more than half the adult population is capable of doing. Clinton's campaign simply didn't consider popping out a kid a qualifier for the presidency.

Neither should presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, although it's completely understandable why she does.

In order to induce that patriotic metamorphosis in the apathetic and apolitical masses and turn the American public into the American electorate, prospective constituents must experience that "intimate, personal connection" with their candidates.

When it comes to electability, the "warm and fuzzy," or "the connect," as Joe Biden calls it, is no less crucial than a candidate's citizenship. And while it's a necessary part of the campaign, it's also probably the easiest part. Politicians love to anoint themselves with the oil of Narcissus, and no time is an inopportune time for a self-aggrandizing testimonial.

For Bachmann, being a five-time babymaker and foster parent to 23 more kids is about the only personal quality the American public can appreciate. If presidential campaigns were reproduction contests, she'd be a shoe-in. Unfortunately, her creationist dogma and evangelical beliefs – particularly the idea that women ought to be submissive to their husbands – aren't exactly mainstream values. On top of that, she's a former tax lawyer, perhaps the most loathed profession in the U.S.A., who became a congresswoman, the second-most loathed profession in the U.S.A. And she can't even do that job well. She doesn't head any committees (or sub-committees), she's drafted no legislation, and she's passed no laws.

She's got Christianity and kids. Pretty broad. Not exactly a bottomless cache of domestic and foreign policy ideas that can be woven into a national platform of mass appeal.

But what the hell. Flaunt it if you've got it, especially if it's all you've got.

God may have told Bachmann to run for president, but for all of those southern conservative Christians who feel a twinge of obligation to support the evangelical candidate, He never told Bachmann she was going to win. For all we know, God wasn't even talking about president of the United States. Maybe he meant she should run for president of the local orphanage.

Bachmann is out of her league. Even Sarah Palin had more to offer than mere parenthood (although not much more).

If faith and stretch marks were the only prerequisites for running the country, Rush Limbaugh would have been president decades ago. 

(Cross-posted at Muddy Politics.)

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