The Daily Caller is running a story on Rep. Michele Bachmann headlined, Stress-related condition ‘incapacitates’ Bachmann; heavy pill use alleged. With a headline like that, I expected to read about a disease that kept her bedridden for weeks. Instead, we have this:
The Minnesota Republican frequently suffers from stress-induced medical episodes that she has characterized as severe headaches. These episodes, say witnesses, occur once a week on average and can “incapacitate” her for days at time. On at least three occasions, Bachmann has landed in the hospital as a result.
The Daily Caller does give details on specific instances when her headaches prevented her from making appearances. However, Rep. Bachmann’s spokeswoman insists the headaches are not as serious as alleged in the article:
Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for Bachmann, said “she suffers from migraines and they’re under control with medicine.” Stewart contested descriptions of the episodes as “incapacitating” Bachmann but did not specify how the descriptions were wrong. “The information you have is incorrect,” Stewart said. She declined to discuss Bachmann’s hospital visits at all, saying, “I’m not going to go into her medical history.”
Fox News raises some questions about the seriousness of the headaches, running an article headlined How Bad Are Bachmann’s Headaches? The article notes that women are more likely to suffer from headaches than men and that headaches can often be treated pretty easily with over-the-counter medication:
Medical research is inconclusive on the specific cause of migraines, although those who suffer from them have discovered so-called triggers through keeping details in a migraine journal. The array of triggers runs from overly-bright lights and caffeine intake to stress and extreme heat.
Kraig also notes that 75 percent of migraine sufferers are women, and most people experiencing migraines have genetic factors making them more susceptible. Treatment can be as simple as over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory drugs to a range of prescription medications.
If a presidential candidate suffers from a performance-inhibiting condition, it is fair to question that condition and how it will impact performance. Maybe that is all that is at issue in The Daily Caller article. But maybe not. The message I took from the article is that Rep. Bachmann might be fragile. Not shaky on foreign policy. Not weak on economics. But fragile in her demeanor. Is the media asking if this female candidate will swoon under pressure?
Again, if her headaches are a serious impediment, then this issue is worth exploring. But if they are truly “under control,” what is the point? Whether you support her or not, it is interesting to examine how journalists write about her as a female running for President of the United States.