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Michele Bachmann is a 'Balloon Head' in Chris Matthews' Book

4 years ago
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"Balloon Head" isn't the name of the upcoming Seth Rogen movie. But that's really what MSNBC's Chris Matthews called Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for comments in a recent speech about when slavery ended in America.

I don't disagree with Matthews' decision to call Bachmann out on her remarks that slavery was ended by the tireless efforts of the Founding Fathers. It's fair game to question elected representatives about whether they have a grasp on our country's history, as well as current events, to decide whether they're really qualified to represent their constituents. Bring on the debate -- is Bachmann clueless on slavery and the Civil War or is she revising historical facts to stoke the tea party's political agenda?

But no legitimate political conversation is advanced by sexist name calling.

Sure, "balloon head" is a relatively novel slam. And it is sort of fun to say. No doubt it can be used with equal negative effect against the gents. But I have a feeling that when Matthews lobbed "balloon head" out there against Bachmann, it came from the same place as his recent Sarah Palin potshot that she "interviews like she's selling makeup foundations."

I'm not saying that there's any political favoritism on the part of those who conveniently fall back on sexist language in the name of punditry. Hillary Clinton was a special target of media sexism in the 2008 presidential campaign, not to mention the political "mommy wars" debate everyone wanted to have about whether Palin, as a mother of small children, could fulfill her parental duties and run for national political office.

It shouldn't be difficult for pundits to question elected officials without crossing that line. For example, Bachmann's 2010 challenger, former Minnesota State Senator Tarryl Clark, sent out a message to her supporters after Bachmann's State of the Union response for the tea party, calling her out over certain misrepresentations she felt Bachmann had made. And Clark has kept her campaign website live to have a voice in setting the record straight when Bachmann misspeaks. Using facts rather than sexist imagery to make your arguments is easy-peasy, so I wonder why there are few calls to end criticism of powerful women that's infused with stereotypical gender-related insults?

Sadly, the answer is the same in 2011 as it always has been -- sexism sells, whether it's in commercials or TV sitcoms or cable news coverage. So why not keep boosting those ratings and advertiser dollars in our pundit-eat-pundit world by coining the next sexist term? "Nagging" and "bitchy" are so 2008.

Maybe a little trip to the Sundance Film Festival is in order to preview the new documentary MissRepresentation, a movie about how sexist treatment of women in the mainstream media has become normalized and its negative impact on our daughters. That might bring some commentators back to reality. I'm willing to bet that if someone shouted to the world that Matthews' 20-something daughter was a "balloon head" maybe even he would back off.

You can follow Joanne Bamberger on Twitter and Facebook.

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Michell thinks we need less Wall Street regulation. Regulation caused all of the Great Recession? She also said something to the effect that the US was blackmailng BP! Then she wanted Minnsotan armed and dangerous after Obama was elected. She also wanted people not to get involved with the census. This woman is not the brightest bulb on the chandalier. He outrageous statments don't get as much play as they should. Pretty is as pretty does and does ain't doing it.

February 01 2011 at 10:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Balloon head is an alliteration for "AIR HEAD" but with that added inference to a cartoon character, ergo an air-headed Blondie who probably dyed her hair that mousy brown to disguise her blondness. Guess what ? IT DIDN'T WORK !

January 27 2011 at 10:12 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Agreed that Bachmann is a revisionist and needs to get in touch with reality. I disagree with pretty much all of her political positions. The point is this -- so many people resort to name calling when criticizing a woman, but not when it's a man. That's sexism. I don't hear Matthews or anyone else wondering about the male balloon heads, suggesting that the head of the Tea Party reminds him of a make-up salesperson or that any of the men in the Obama administration are "nagging bitches."

January 27 2011 at 8:14 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to joannebamberger's comment
John Vilvens

It is not that she is a woman, but she is a conservative woman. Clinton got in obamas way so she was demonized. I am sure you hace read rules for raticals and understand what happened. I agree with Bachmann on her politicial views and disagree with Obama. But I should have a right to express my views with out being demonized and so should Bachmann and you should have the same write to express yours as long as you make it clear your articles take a liberal slant.

January 27 2011 at 12:20 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply

obviously, you dont watch matthews....he totally calls out the male balloon heads, just uses different adjectives...but he calls them out....

January 29 2011 at 7:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

This article is Total Rubbish and a classic diversion technique. This has nothing to do with sexism. The woman is an avowed creationist and historical revisionist. Please don't diminish the extent and corrosive power of her ignorance by turning this into a discussion about sexism. Focus on what is important.

January 27 2011 at 6:10 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

How is "balloon head" sexist? If balloon head is female, what is the male terminology? Plus, she IS a balloon head.

January 26 2011 at 8:24 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Stephanie's comment

exactly, since when does balloon head exclusively refer to a woman?

January 29 2011 at 7:12 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Not every political pundit has a rational case to make. Bamberger may be among them.

January 26 2011 at 8:24 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

Evidently Joanne Bamberger considers baloon head a sexist remark. I wonder if she had any problems with Palin, Angle et al and their 'grow a pair', 'put your man pants on' and 'man up' comments all through the last election?

January 26 2011 at 7:59 PM Report abuse +17 rate up rate down Reply

What is sexist about calling Bachmann a ballon head? Making dumb statements, whether you are a man or women, warrants being a ballon head. So this writer, to me, is making something out of nothing. Unfortunately, Michelle Bachmann has shown time and time again to be a "ballon head" Right on Chris!

January 26 2011 at 7:52 PM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply

I understand the writer's comments regarding sexism, but as a female, I personally don't want to be judged by the likes of Bachmann and Palin. They are too vain and interested in their own personal agendas and take any and every opportunity to comment when sometimes silence would be golden. When females such as these use winking, lipstick and "cutesy" to further themselves sexism is a moot isssue where they're concerned. They asked for it!

January 26 2011 at 7:31 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to breezy62253's comment

Thank you breezy62253 because their own individual actions exploit themselves and not women such as Hillary Clinton who has the knowledge, skills and abilities to become president. In other words, there's a very big difference between Hillary, Michele and Sarah. The latter two couldn't touch Hillary even if they wanted to.

January 26 2011 at 10:35 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

Who would want too, she is dumb as a box of rocks. Claiming she had experience in the White House, just because she was married to the president. To use her logic, if she had married a brain surgeon, she should be able to do his job too.

January 27 2011 at 2:54 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Mr. Matthews is absolutely correct. Do people like her no anything about American history?...No need to answer, she already answered it. Lol...

January 26 2011 at 7:18 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

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