August 10th, 2011
07:17 PM ET

Letters to the President: #933 'Queen of rage'

Reporter's Note: President Obama has occasionally complained of headlines that he considered unfair; now one of his challengers for the Oval Office appears to be getting the same treatment.

Dear Mr. President,

Everyone (well, not everyone, but a lot of folks) seem to be all lathered up over this Newsweek cover showing Michelle Bachmann as the Queen of Rage. Some are calling it unfair. Some are calling it sexist. They have their points, I suppose, but I’m not sure this is something for people to burn all their powder on.

From where I sit, any time you are running for a great big political office and you are featured on the cover of a magazine, it’s good news; unless the headline says “OJ Finds the Real Killer!” After all, your mere presence on the cover also says, “This is a person whom we should watch. She matters.”

I’ll admit that the photo of Ms. Bachmann does make her look a little loopy; eyes all wide and serial-killer-ish. Maybe her campaign has a genuine beef with that.

I suspect, however, that the headline is the bigger problem. In my experience, a lot of people on the right have grown tired of being portrayed as “raging” or “insane” just because they object to D.C.’s way of doing business. Those words seem custom cut to evoke images of gun-toting rednecks who are intolerant of progress or even simple change, and that is emphatically unfair; plenty of people I’ve met on the right side of the political spectrum are strongly anti-government, and yet reasonable, calm, and thoughtful in their views.

When you were running for office and heaving flaming buckets of rhetorical oil at the Republicans, I don’t remember any headlines that said you were full of “rage,” and I suspect you would have objected if there had been.

Still, like I said, I’m not sure this one magazine cover is worthy of as much discussion as it is getting. After all, I suspect you and all your challengers are going to face much more insulting headlines before this rising election is over.



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