The XX Factor

Michele Bachmann’s Gaze

It was almost impossible to concentrate on what Michele Bachmann was saying, exactly, in her Tea Party response to tonight’s State of the Union. First, there were the visual aids, that looked at times like what one might bring for a Civics class presentation on the Constitution (complete with confusing charts on unemployment that cleverly only labeled odd-numbered years-so unless you looked closely, it seemed as if unemployment went up during a Democratic presidency, not during the tail end of the Bush era).

Then there was her gaze. If you watched on CNN-the only station to carry the speech-she was looking over your shoulder, not at the camera. The TV camera, anyway: I didn’t watch online, but according to my Twitter feed, she was gazing directly at the webcam. Bachmann’s eye contact, then, is reserved for the Web faithful-for those bypassing the lamestream media, that is.

Another odd note: According to the New York Time s , at least, the Web site of the Tea Party Express didn’t carry Bachmann’s speech live, despite the fact that she was ostensibly speaking for them as a subset of Republicans. Which leaves me wondering whether anyone wanted Bachmann to respond nearly as badly as Bachmann did herself.

( Update : The speech is available here , and now also on the Tea Party Express’ page . It’s also embedded below.)