- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The left’s phobia of Rep. Michele Bachmann must be contagious. Anticipating a strong showing for the Republican presidential candidate in Saturday’s Ames, Iowa, straw poll, Newsweek magazine printed a profile so nasty that the story ought to be judged by its cover.

Mrs. Bachmann, 55, is a distinguished-looking professional woman. Newsweek’s editors deliberately selected a cover photo that placed the Minnesota Republican’s line of eye sight above the camera showing uneven pupils. This falsely gave her an unfocused and off-kilter appearance. Even the liberal TV comedian Jon Stewart was embarrassed by the cheap shot.

“Be honest Newsweek: You used that photo in a petty attempt to make Michele Bachmann look crazy,” he said on his show Tuesday before launching into the punchline: “That’s what her words are for.” But the late-night host was serious about the impact of the photo choice, ending the segment with, “Shame on you, Newsweek. And your editor, Tina Brown.”

Newsweek’s headline, “The Queen of Rage,” is both sexist and misleading. In the interview, writer Lois Romano asks Mrs. Bachmann about the “anger” of her supporters - a characterization she rejected. “You use the word ‘anger.’ It’s not anger,” she told the magazine. “Americans aren’t expressing ‘unhinged anger.’ People are saying that the country is not working.”

Ms. Romano’s personal bias is obvious when she writes, without any supporting evidence, that the Tea Party “just brought Washington to a standstill and the nation to the brink of default.” The Tea Party didn’t spend $4 trillion that the government does not have in the past two and a half years; President Obama did.

Still, she sees the concept of limiting government to spend only within its means as “radical” and “extreme”. After all, that might “leave people at the mercy of the freewheeling (and often treacherous) marketplace,” she wrote.

Newsweek portrays Mrs. Bachmann as a “polarizing figure” within the Tea Party. To back this up, the magazine dredged up the editor of a libertarian magazine to say that the the pro-life candidate “will have trouble” with the party “if she’s seen as more concerned about social issues” than the debt. A consistently conservative platform might not go over well in strict libertarian circles, but the vast majority of Tea Party supporters are social conservatives.

On Thursday, Mrs. Bachmann will square off against the other GOP candidates in Iowa in a debate hosted by Fox News Channel. In New Hampshire, her strong and consistent limited-government message went over well. Newsweek’s attack is a sign of the depths to which the left is willing to stoop to tear down anyone who threatens to unseat “The One” in 2012.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.