What’s Behind The Hullabaloo Over Bachmann’s Migraines?

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Much has been made over Representative Michele Bachmann’s migraines, with the mainstream media questioning whether they could “incapacitate” her if she were elected President.

Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who is seeking the Republican nod for the 2012 Presidential race, is trouncing her male competitors. In a national poll released on Tuesday from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, Bachmann was ranked the No. 1 choice among likely Republican primary voters from across the United States.

So it is unsurprising that the mainstream media have latched onto The Daily Caller’s article about Bachmann suffering from migraines. The initial allegation was that, because her headaches are stress-induced, Bachmann may find the stressful job of the Presidency “incapacitating.” The article also pointed to her use of prescription medication to control the headaches as a “particular concern.”

At a rally on Tuesday, ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross chased Bachmann into a parking area behind the stage, “asking (shouting) whether she had ever missed a House vote due to a migraine,” according to an account provided by TIME’s Michael Crowley.

Crowley continues: “Her aides grew alarmed. When Ross made a beeline for the white SUV waiting to carry Bachmann away, two Bachmann men pounced on him, grabbing and pushing him multiple times with what looked to me like unusual force. In fact, I have never seen a reporter treated so roughly at a campaign event, especially not a presidential one.”

The TIME opinion piece ends with Crowley wondering why Bachmann was not “prepared” to answer questions about her migraines, reading: “The trail is a messy place where reporters will swarm you. It’s definitely not always fun — and can be enough to give even a seasoned candidate a migraine. The question raised this afternoon is whether Bachmann is ready for it.”

According to the National Headache Foundation (NHF), nearly 30 million Americans suffer from migraines. Of that number, it is estimated that only 7.5 million sufferers, or one quarter, are male. This has led to migraines being dubbed a “woman’s disease.”

That the mainstream media have continuously attacked Bachmann as an off-the-rails conservative is unsurprising; after all, Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) has faced similar treatment throughout his political career. What is unusual is how Bachmann’s media treatment is specifically tailored to her being female.

“(W)hen women run for public office, the press is more likely to talk about their dress and appearance, more likely to challenge their competency,” Caroline Heldman, an associate professor at Occidental College, said in an interview with CNN.com. “It’s already started with Bachmann.”

In case you missed it, the headline for The Daily Caller piece was: “Stress-related condition ‘incapacitates’ Bachmann; heavy pill use alleged.”

In a statement addressing her migraines, made just moments before the Ross encounter, Bachmann said, “Let me be abundantly clear — my ability to function effectively has never been impeded by migraines and will not affect my ability to serve as Commander in Chief.”

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