I started my day today writing perhaps the most strident blog post I’ve ever written. I called it “The Betrayal of Michele Bachmann” and posted it in the Corner. I was responding to the Daily Caller’s anonymously-sourced allegations that Michele Bachmann is “incapacitated” by migraines she attempts to control though “heavy pill use” and pulled out (by my standards) all the rhetorical stops. I said the sources — former aides — were “cowardly,” called their betrayal “disgusting,” and even threw in a few exclamation points.
Why get upset? It’s politics, after all, what should I expect? As one commenter succinctly stated, “Heat. Kitchen.” I can also understand Ramesh Ponnuru’s argument — if the story is true, then inquiry is legitimate. Yet we’re so far from legitimate inquiry that we can’t see it with the Hubble telescope. And the reasons are simple: cowardice and evidence.
I don’t use the word cowardice lightly. Here we have former aides who say they’re “terrified” by her condition. They even deliberately chose to say that she’s “incapacitated” for days at a time and made vague accusations about pill use. Yet they can’t even muster up the courage to identify themselves? If the stakes really are so high, surely their patriotism would compel them to come forward so that we can ask some questions, weigh their credibility, and discern whether they had enough access to the candidate to know what she’s endured. By remaining anonymous we can’t cross-examine them (so to speak) and discover the truth.
Then there’s the evidence. Or lack thereof. Anonymous aides expressed terror at her condition, yet if you read the entire article you’ll find that she allegedly missed a grand total of one planned campaign event . . . in 2010. A second lurid tale concerns a migraine so bad that she merely “managed to attend several events in California, including an appearance before a California chapter of the Eagle Forum and a fundraiser in Palm Springs.” Oh, but she was “in pain throughout.” Nice to know.
Look, I’m not naive. I know that politics is a messy business and that reporters often live or die by anonymous sources. But we don’t have to play by those rules. We don’t have to stand by while honorable people are smeared by individuals who don’t have the courage to be named or the evidence to support their allegations.
Michele Bachmann has a personal story that Hollywood would love if she were liberal. A mother of five took in foster child after foster child, grew alarmed at the poor quality of their mandatory public education, and then launched herself into the political process to improve their lives. They’d pitch Julia Roberts for the part if Bachmann had only been crusading against a power plant or land development. As it is, she has to settle for the Palin treatment — from the Left and the Right.
Whether it’s Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, or Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, human beings deserve better treatment, but they’ll never receive it if we acquiesce to the politics of the gutter.
One final note: Before I get too carried away by exclamation points, I need to remember this cautionary tale: