TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein: Let the public decide whether Bachmann’s migraines matter

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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One would think the implications of The Daily Caller’s blockbuster report about Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s supposed stressed-induced incapacitating migraines would be self-evident — especially for a candidate seeking to become the most powerful elected official in the world.

But some of the reaction to the piece has been bizarre. New York magazine, for instance, claimed the article may be inherently sexist, even while acknowledging that suffering from migraines may be a hindrance for a potential president.

“The article also might trigger cries of sexism: Migraines happen to be overwhelmingly a woman’s problem, and (though Bachmann’s are supposedly stress-triggered), they are often linked to both menstruation and menopause — unavoidable biological side effects of being a woman. And so, just by the nature and associations of migraines, the story serves as a reminder of the cave-man argument from way back against women holding office — that they might be undone by their hormones in moments of great stress.”

It is impossible to understate how colossally stupid this argument is.

It very well may be true  — I’m not a doctor, so I have no idea — that women are more prone to getting migraines. That doesn’t negate the fact that getting incapacitating migraines calls in to question one’s ability to perform all the duties a president is called upon to perform — especially when the migraines are induced by situations far less stressful than one is routinely likely to encounter as president.

This strain of criticism is similar to the whines on college campuses by liberals annoyed they are forced to read so many tomes by “dead white men” that the only reason there is no female Shakespeare is that women were not afforded the opportunities that men were in earlier times. That’s very well may be true. But it doesn’t negate the fact that there is no female Shakespeare and that, therefore, the majority of the literary works in the Western cannon worth studying, especially pre-20th century, were written by white men.

The president of the United States must be able to handle a wide array of duties on a daily basis, many of them unplanned and highly stressful. If Bachmann gets stress-induced incapacitating headaches, as alleged by sources close to her, that calls into question whether she can perform the duties required of her as president. Remember that 3:00 a.m. call Hillary Clinton warned that President Obama may not be able to handle? Well, imagine how hard it would be for Michele Bachmann to handle such a call if she couldn’t get out of bed because of a mind-numbing headache.

Other critics of the TheDC’s report have suggested that other presidents, like John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, suffered from illnesses that hindered their ability to do their job in some way. This too is true. But are these critics really suggesting it was appropriate for these illnesses to be hidden from public view, preventing the American people from having a complete picture of the leaders they were voting for?

There is no question that if Michele Bachmann suffers from the incapacitating, stress-induced migraines that sources close to her suggest she does that it would be a hindrance to her ability to handle the presidency. That is not the same as saying that the migraines disqualify her. The public may very well decide that she is so great a leader that her alleged incapacitating migraines are insignificant compared to the qualities she would bring to the Oval Office.

But the point is that it is up for the public to decide. If Congresswoman Bachmann believes in the American people, she will open up her records and allow Americans to fully understand what effect her migraines have had on her in the past. This means permitting her doctors to speak to the press, and allowing the records of her hospital visits to be examined.

In America, the people decide who they want to lead them. But they ought to do so with a complete understanding of whom they are voting for, warts and all.

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