Michele Bachmann Shouldn’t Be President

But her migraines have nothing to do with it.

I’m a registered Democrat who votes with my party much of the time, no matter how often it disgusts me, which is often. Even if I were inclined to vote for a candidate from a different party, as I did once many years ago, I don’t imagine it would be Michele Bachmann. I don’t agree with her on any issue I can think of and I don’t respect her. More than that, I think she’s an extremist who could be quite dangerous if she had a larger role in government.

But there is something Michele Bachmann and I have in common: we both get migraines. And we both see no reason for that to get in the way of her bid for president.

Given my feelings about her, you might think I’d be glad she’s having trouble. After all, members of both parties earn high marks for cross-party schaudenfreude. So why wouldn’t I delight in her difficulties? Because it’s the wrong difficulty. Her fitness for the office should be challenged but not because of headaches.

Migraines are a serious pain in the ass, emphasis on the word pain. They’re awful. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been reduced to a quivering puddle with a cold pack on my forehead, earplugs in my ears and a blindfold on just to quell the agony. And they have gotten in the way of my activities. But so have colds and flus and a high heat index. When I think of my peer group, every person has some kind of shpilkes. One friend has low blood sugar. Another has insomnia. Others deal with chronic knee pain, asthma, allergies, hemorrhoids, carpal tunnel—the list goes on. Think about your own friends and family. Who do you know who’s in absolutely perfect health? Even the healthiest among us is going to have something that makes them vulnerable from time to time.

There are a few key reasons I think this whole migraine thing isn’t worth our consideration.

1. Expertise. Let’s say you get the flu. You’re in bed with a fever and you feel awful. Chances are, that flu came on suddenly. You don’t know how long it’s going to last, since flus are unpredictable. It’s also not clear what to do. Do you attend to that motto: feed a cold, starve a fever? Do you take zinc? Should you go to a doctor or will you be wasting their time? Sigh. You just have to ride it out and see what happens. It’s unpredictable.

Migraines are different. They are not typically unpredictable. For instance, I know there are certain foods or situations that will increase the likelihood of a migraine, so I avoid the triggers. Before the migraine per se, I get an aura so I can tell when that it’s coming on. This affords me the chance to take my medicine before it gets too bad. Some migraineurs have injectables that kick in even faster at that point.

If a headache strikes and meds don’t work, we know exactly what we need to do to survive the siege. And we can generally predict how long it’s going to last. We are experts in this. With the flu, we’re all idiots.

2. Other presidents. Let’s not pretend other leaders have been in perfect health. Clinton had heart trouble, Reagan had Alzheimer’s, Kennedy had back problems, Calvin Coolidge and Abraham Lincoln both dealt with depression, Woodrow Wilson had a stroke … the list goes on. Finding a person who is invulnerable to illness is well nigh impossible.

3. Migraine and creativity. It has been suggested that people who suffer from migraines are also more gifted artistically and intellectually. Famous migraineurs include Charles Darwin, Emily Dickinson, Giorgio de Chirico, Georges Seurat, Sigmund Freud and many others. I don’t think Michele Bachmann is a creative genius, though you could argue that her persona as someone qualified to run for president is an act of penetrating imagination. But even without the genius, it’s amply clear that having migraines doesn’t turn you into a blathering idiot.

4. Politicians and migraines. Thomas Jefferson? Yep, Thomas Jefferson. ’Nuff said.