First it was her migraines, then it was the cost of her hair and makeup, and now it's correlating her anti-gay views to bullying and suicides in a school district she represents. Rep. Michele Bachmann has in many ways become the new Sarah Palin as a prominent female target the media love to hate. Even when she responds to her critics, they don't seem to go away.
Bachmann suffers from migraines, like 30 million other Americans, but has proved through her career the migraines don't hinder her ability to serve. Nevertheless, she immediately released a statement from her doctor explaining her migraines are under control. In comparison, both former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama had health issues that could have turned into major problems during their presidencies, but neither released their medical records. Clinton had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and clogged coronary arteries, while Obama was a longtime smoker with a family history of cancer.
The transparency of Bachmann's immediate medical explanation was not enough to satisfy critics, though, who have since found more ways to attack her. Mother Jones's Andy Kroll complained about her expensive hair and makeup being offensive to the ideas of fiscal conservatism, but he instead came off as being sexist. As the Atlantic's Elspeth Reeve explains,
Michele Bachmann has spent at least $4,700 getting her hair and makeup done since she declared she's running for president June 13, campaign finance disclosures show. Mother Jones' Andy Kroll says that this could be Bachmann's "own John-Edwards'-$400-haircut moment," given the Republican's "crusade against government spending and her demand that America live within its means." But it seems like this is closer to her own Sarah-Palin's-$150,000-wardrobe moment where a female candidate is deemed unserious because she tries to meet to the demands of high-definition television cameras--in this case, by not letting her pores show.
First lady Michelle Obama was never hit with the same flak for her expensive campaign trail wardrobe, which drew pieces from a number of high-end designers, including a $900 dress worn in St. Paul, Minnesota (right outside Bachmann's district) following her husband's primary victory speech.
Now more serious criticism has been leveled against Bachmann for the "teen suicide epidemic" of nine suicides over a two-year period in her district. Again, Mother Jones called out Bachmann, blaming her for her anti-gay stances and lack of support for anti-bullying laws. While Bachmann has not responded, she has previously told legislators,
I think, for all us, our experience in public schools is there have always been bullies, always have been, always will be. I just don't know how we're ever going to get to point of zero tolerance and what does it mean? ... What will be our definition of bullying? Will it get to the point where we are completely stifling free speech and expression? Will it mean that what form of behavior will there be - will we be expecting boys to be girls?
Dan Reidenberg, the executive director of a Minnesota suicide prevention group called SAVE, responded to the article in the New York Daily News. He has worked closely with the school district in question, and described the categorization of the suicides as an "epidemic" to be innaccurate.
There was a higher number of suicides in a higher period of time in one area than is normal, but if you look at overall trends, it has gone down. … Overall, there was no trending.
Even if Bachmann does respond to the latest criticism, it is unlikely to end the current trend of Bachmann bashing.