Imagine that you're a political consultant hired by a presidential campaign. Your candidate is young, smart and attractive, and has a fervent fan base. The candidate has got it all - a bachelor's degree and two law degrees, one in tax law; five years of experience as a U.S. Treasury Department attorney in U.S. Tax Court; 10 years of combined experience in a state legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives, and an all-American family that includes five children of her own, a farm and 23 foster children.
That should be a dream candidate, right? But for some reason, the prospect of a Michele Bachmann presidency has failed to garner the respect it deserves. By that I mean any respect whatsoever.
I know from experience. A few months back, while performing the seldom-dignified duty of political punditry, I suggested on "Larry King Live" that I'd like to see her run in 2012, only to be met by laughs from the rest of the mostly liberal panel. King's own response was, "Are you kidding or do you mean that?"
Such condescending incredulity is mind-boggling. Jimmy McMillan, the Rent is Too Damn High candidate in last year's New York gubernatorial race, got more respect from the media than Bachmann does. I bet if Charlie Sheen announced his candidacy, at least a few liberals would ask with a totally straight face, "Well, what's his platform?"
I can understand that the left disagrees with Bachmann's politics - she's a far-right conservative whose platform includes pro-life, pro-family and pro-God positions. But so are Mike Huckabee and Tim Pawlenty. No one outright mocks their presidential aspirations. They are, at the very least, given the benefit of serious consideration. What is it about Bachmann that makes her any less of a serious candidate?
Is it simply that she's a woman? As a postfeminism graduate of the school of equal opportunity, I'm reluctant to play identity politics. And since I resent being called a racist for criticizing President Obama, or a nativist for supporting border control, I won't start now.
Like the irrational attacks on Sarah Palin, those on Bachmann can't just be about her gender. After all, the staunchly conservative Condoleezza Rice does not attract such visceral animosity. Nor does Nancy Pelosi, who is as much of a bleeding-heart Democrat as Bachmann is a red-meat Republican.
So what, then? Are her Midwestern mannerisms any more ripe for mockery than Donald's Trumpisms? Is she any less polished than Joe Biden? Is Hillary Clinton more likable?
Laughing at Bachmann has become a full-time obsession for liberal pundits. Chris Matthews, for one, calls her a "balloon head," accusing her of being in a "hypnotic trance." Rachel Maddow said it was inexplicable that CNN aired her Tea Party response to President Obama's State of the Union address.
As far as that statement was concerned, many liberals simply mocked her for an audiovisual glitch that made it seem as if she were talking with someone off-camera.
How does this incredibly accomplished woman - only the third to represent Minnesota in Congress - fail to impress the same media sages who recently gave their unconditional support to a junior senator from Illinois?
Her detractors seem to have been struck with a serious case of Bachmannitis, the kind of irrational apoplexy that resembles paranoia more than serious analysis. But it's also a compliment, of course. If they weren't afraid of her, they wouldn't care enough to dismiss her.
But the more they bully Bachmann, the more I think I was on to something when I suggested she run in 2012. And now, with rumors swirling that she's considering it, the agita she generates on the left is sure to ratchet up. As far as I'm concerned, that's a sure sign that she's actually got a shot.