There is nothing quite like the demagoguery and illogical absurdity with which Republicans play the presidential politics game.
Just as four years ago Republicans shrieked and howled over the zeal of the mainstream media and Democrats to "get" Sarah Palin they are back at it now claiming that Michele Bachmann is being trashed.
Such is the case in dog and pony show land in which highly paid consultants play the Democrats versus Republicans game while a one party corporatist party rules and the empire seeks new lands to invade and occupy. The Republicans doing the loudest howling are partisans who never raised so much as a whisper when mudmeisters such as Lee Atwater and Karl Rove combined the worst of McCarthyism and "good old boys" southern racism against opponents.
It was a "smear" against poor Sarah Palin when that notorious media pit bull Katie Couric dared ask her which newspapers she read. Based on Couric's voice tone and body language, this was a perceived softball question to make Palin feel comfortable with the interview process.
Now we now hear the same charge being registered for alleged mistreatment of Michele Bachmann. A chorus of boos was registered at Thursday's Republican presidential candidates debate in Ames, Iowa after reporter Byron York asked Bachmann about a statement made concerning her being "submissive" in her relationship with her husband.
Bachmann delivered a cool response that gave evidence of being canned in the way that certain Ronald Reagan presidential responses were. It looked like a familiar technique of having a question asked under friendly circumstances early in a campaign rather than have it surface later under more difficult circumstances.
Despite the chorus of boos, the questioner was hardly Dan Rather asking Richard Nixon a tough question about Watergate without the benefit of preparation. Byron York, after all, gained recognition as White House correspondent for National Review, hardly to be mistaken for The Village Voice. Rather than acting perturbed or defensive, Bachmann thanked York for his question and delivered her response. In the discussion about the question the revealing answer has been garbled if not lost in the process.
Bachmann replied that in the context of her marital relationship they both defined the word "submissive" as embodying mutual respect. This is hardly the way that Webster's Dictionary defines the word.
Webster's defines the meaning of submissive as "inclined or readiness to submit; acknowledging one's inferiority; yielding; obedient; humble; showing a readiness to submit; expressing submission; as, a submissive demeanor."
It is also instructive to examine the context in which the "submissive" statement was made. It came in a 2006 interview in which Bachmann revealed that she decided to study tax law because it was suggested by her husband even though she hated the idea. Bachmann further explained that she heeded his recommendation because, as is taught in the Bible, a good wife is supposed to follow her husband. The statement context is in perfect harmony with the Webster definition. The husband leads and the wife follows, a classic definition of submission.
While respect is defined as "to regard as worthy of special consideration" and this, more than likely, was examined and decided in advance to be the best course of action by the Bachmann high command, there is a chasm separating respectful consideration and outright submission in the context of conservative biblical fundamentalists.
Why is the question relevant? More than likely it scares the Bachmann camp because it puts the candidate in a thorny position should it be pursued. Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite, needs the religious right, a natural component of her Republican primary strategy.
Here is the ultimate problem. At one point or another, especially if she becomes the Republican presidential nominee, Bachmann would need to expand beyond her natural base to independents and other voters occupying the vital center where national elections are ultimately decided.
How would the Bachmann fundamentalist Christian strain play be perceived by a broader electorate on the issue of wives submitting to husbands? How would this play with a candidate for the presidency? Would she as president defer to her husband?
Whether she stands pat or strays, Bachmann would upset many in a broad national electorate no matter how she answered.