As long as it lasts -- and President Obama ought to hope it will be until November 2012 -- the presidential candidacy of Michele Bachmann will pose unprecedented American political questions.
Can you be the leader of the free world but a follower in your own home, commander of the mighty American military but submissive in the residential quarters to your husband, as you say the Bible commands?
If you believe that regular wearing of high-heeled shoes is a factor in causing your frequent and debilitating migraine headaches, then why not wear flats?
If you were president and there was some kind of emergency, and if you had retired to bed because of a severe and debilitating headache, could aides simply take the matter up with your husband, since you biblically submit to him anyway?
Yes, I'm flirting dangerously with vulnerability to a charge of sexism.
It's true that I raise questions about Bachmann that are peculiar to her gender, one having to do with the gender-based roles of her private married life and the other with gender-specific attire.
So am I a no-good male chauvinist?
Or is it fair game that Bachmann is the only currently emerging front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination who once said she went into tax law only because her husband told her to do so and because the Bible teaches her to be submissive to her husband?
And is it fair game that Bachmann is the only currently emerging front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination who is ubiquitously shod in high heels and frequently felled by powerful migraine headaches, and who, according to her medical resident son, as quoted in The New York Times, has speculated a cause-and-effect?
Better to blame high heels than stress, you see, if you are seeking to have your finger on the nuke button -- or, more precisely, to be standing by submissively while your husband, if not otherwise engaged curing others' gayness through "Christian" counseling (to cite one of his professional activities), has his finger thereon.
In my defense against sexist thinking, I will offer the point that, if Ron Paul or Tim Pawlenty or Barack Obama showed up in what they asserted to be physically incapacitating footwear and declaring themselves to be the biblically empowered masters of their wives, then I would write about that as well.
Let us wind down today's little exploration by focusing on the less-volatile matter of Bachmann's kooky religion. From her days as a law student at a school named for faith-healing Oral Roberts, Bachmann has had associations with what is sometimes called the "dominionist" movement in America. This movement holds that America is a Christian nation, at least to the extent that the version to be forced on us is, like Bachmann's, fundamentalist and evangelical.
These dominionists rely on rewriting history to assert that our Founding Fathers intended to set up a state for and by Jesus.
Most of these founders were deists who believed in a God who left us to our own devices. These very founders specifically put into the Constitution that the government most certainly may not impose a religion.
This dominion theory is at the root of Bachmann's absurd assertion that our founders fought diligently against the sin of slavery, which, of course, they most certainly did not. But she can cite some self-styled "Christian" historian who will say that little Johnny Quincy Adams, as a boy and teen, was a Founding Father.
All of this is to make the point that Bachmann ought to be a marginalized figure and would have been one as recently as a year or two ago. But now the Republican Party has devolved to the point that it bestows mainstream credibility on recently marginalized nonsense.
That brings us back to the subject of headaches -- America's, I mean.
John Brummett is an award-winning columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock and author of "High Wire," a book about Bill Clinton's first year as president. His e-mail address is jbrummett@ arkansasnews.com.