It pains me to have to point this out, but Michele Bachmann is not a flake.
Politically, the conservative U.S. representative and I could not be more different. To me, she's the anticandidate — antichoice, anti-gay marriage, antitruth. Her willful dishonesty on a wide range of issues is breathtaking.
Bachmann is not qualified to be president, but she's running anyway. She's getting lots of attention, too, especially from tea party folks. She held her own in the most recent Republican debate and she's raising serious dough. Like it or not, she appears to be as much a contender for the Republican nomination as Mitt Romney.
So it was inappropriate for Fox News host Chris Wallace to ask her, "Are you a flake?"
I'm tempted to hammer away at how wrong it is to do this to a woman in 2011, but there never has been a time when it was appropriate to pose such a question to a woman, candidate or otherwise.
Unfortunately — as was illustrated during Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential run and, to a lesser degree, during Sarah Palin's vice presidential run — my profession is still bloated with colleagues who have yet to grasp America's changing landscape in the nine decades since we girls got the right to vote.
A wee ray of hope rose over the horizon, however, after Wallace asked that dumb question. Viewers weighed in, and they were not happy. So he apologized in a video.
"A lot of you were more than perturbed; you were upset and felt that I had been rude to her," he said. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean any disrespect."
Take heart. A vocal public that insists on fair treatment may succeed in steering pundits away from the culture of misogyny that allowed Glenn Beck to refer to Hillary Clinton as "it" without consequence. Such vigilance on the part of viewers and readers is a full-time job. No pay, but big payoff.
But let us never confuse sexism with due diligence. There are serious questions Bachmann must answer if she continues to run for president. Many of them have to do with past claims that made no sense but managed to churn up an already angry base of voters.
The St. Petersburg Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, which examines politicians' claims, has analyzed 27 of Bachmann's statements since 2009 and rated only one of them fully true.
The tally's breakdown: True 1, Mostly True 1, Half True 2, Barely True 5, False 11, Pants on Fire 7.
A sampling of her "Pants on Fire" claims:
Page 92 of the House health care bill "says specifically that people can't purchase private health insurance after a date certain."
PolitiFact's response: "We not only find that she is misinterpreting that one page, but that she's also distorting the other 1,989 pages of a bill that would construct a system largely based on private health insurance. Her claim is a serious misrepresentation of a plan that relies on a marketplace of private coverage."
Small businesses that have "$250,000 in gross sales for the business. They're the ones that are looking at massive tax increases."
PolitiFact's response: "Of all taxpayers who declare business income, about 2 percent declare enough income to see tax increases if the rates on the top brackets expire. Most small business owners would not see a tax increase, though the most profitable small businesses would."
ACORN will be a paid partner with the Census Bureau and "they will be in charge of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public."
PolitiFact's response: ACORN was not collecting data, nor was it paid. "Once again, she is making a scaremongering claim about ACORN with facts that are ridiculously wrong."
We don't have to ask stupid questions to illustrate how unfit Michele Bachmann is to be president.
© 2011 Creators Syndicate