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Michele Bachmann and the Sisterhood of the Crazy Political Pics

If Michele Bachmann is miffed about her crazy-eyed picture on the cover of Newsweek, she’s in good political company.

Newsweek‘s choice to feature a somewhat wild-eyed Bachmann on its cover, with the equally questionable caption, “The Queen of Rage,” has landed the magazine and its publisher Tina Brown in a hot-seat I can only imagine they purposely went after to boost sales.

Political observers on both sides of the aisle have cried “foul” over the image and its not-so-subtle message that maybe we should focus on her wide-eyed “rage-i-ness” rather than her political views when evaluating her as a presidential candidate.

You know it has to be bad when the progressive National Organization for Women comes to the defense of a conservative gal like Bachmann. And Bachmann’s photo is just the latest in what seems like a never-ending procession of sexist media portrayals of powerful women.

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made Newsweek‘s cover as a political vixen in her running shorts, Hillary Clinton was mocked in 2008 for her wrinkles (funny how that never came up with Newt Gingrich, who is four years older than her), and, my personal favorite, Congresswoman and new DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz was featured by the New York Times standing in her kitchen wearing a pink sweatsuit, instead of the Capitol Hill power suit she usually wears.

Just when I think journalists have turned the corner and are taking powerful women seriously, something like Bachmann’s Newsweek cover happens and reminds me that the media consistently find ways to undercut political women in a way they don’t with men.  Sure we see caricatures of the guys — there are plenty of cartoons of President Obama and his big ears, and no doubt portrayals of Mitt Romney’s Ronald Reagan hair are on the horizon for as long as he’s in the 2012 presidential contest.  But those sorts of images don’t send the underlying message that the candidate might not be suited for the political job they’re after in quite the same way.

Bachmann tossed off the episode with little concern, apparently taking the attitude that any publicity is good publicity.  But is that really true or is it bad political mojo for women when they’re reduced to a stereotype?  If you could have a word with Newsweek about this cover, what would you say?

Joanne is excited to be part of this new adventure at Babble! You can always find more of Joanne’s take on all things newsy and political at her place, PunditMom. Or you can even get her new book, Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (Bright Sky Press)!

Image via Newsweek

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