A Michele Bachmann fan I am not. But I do try to be fair, and I think this long, obsessive criticism of her choice in shoes is, well, downright sexist.

…from the ankle down, Bachmann likes to show a little skin — many of her shoes are either sandals (often worn with pantyhose — argh) or peep toed orthopedic-looking stacked heels. Neither option does her any justice, and both are decidedly dated. The day of the chunky, strappy sandal has passed, especially worn with stockings.

I swear to God, I totally missed this pressing issue. I must spend far too much time worrying about the invasive role of government in people’s lives. Unchecked expansion of statism and socialistic programs worry me more than whether the day of the strappy sandal has passed. And my main concern with GOP candidates is which one of them is most likely to beat Barack Obama. Whether their shoes are up to date has never entered my mind.

But maybe my priorities are all screwed up. The author insists that women’s shoes are a major political issue, and cites examples:

Women’s shoes still speak volumes in the political arena, whether or not we like to admit it. In 2005, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice conveyed U.S. power in knee high boots at a time when America was facing a global PR crisis. More recently, Sarah Palin traipsed from Wasilla to Washington punditry on glamorous stiletto heels, while Michelle Obama encouraged women to feel dressed-up in a pair of pointy flats. The perpetually stylish Jill Biden show how to elongate one’s legs with her daring, nude stiletto heels.

One wonders whether Bachmann’s schlubby shoes are merely her latest political calculation — a two-and-a-half-inch signifier of the everyday mom turned national candidate. Perhaps Bachmann’s jumbled look conveys the aura of a person who can dress for success after more than a decade in elected office, yet is not so pointy-toed as to have stepped beyond her Minnesota roots. Perhaps there are no accidental choices.

But subtle signals about a candidate’s true nature often peek out in unexpected places. And as long as Bachmann continues wearing high street fashion with Main Street shoes, her metamorphosis into a fully polished campaign contender will appear incomplete.

OK, lets assume for the sake of argument that Sarah Palin has better shoes than Michele Bachmann. I much prefer Sarah Palin as a candidate anyway, but if she did a stylistic flipflop and started to wear “Main Street” shoes, and if Bachmann upgraded her footwear to whatever is The Latest Look, should that influence me in any way? I don’t vote for people on the basis of their fashion consciousness, and I would suggest that anyone who does is unworthy of his or her franchise.

Again, I really do think there is an element of sexism here. When was the last time anyone seriously took issue with a male candidate’s choice in shoes? Sure, they notice (I have seen some mention of the fact that Perry wears cowboy boots, for example), but to subject a male candidate’s shoes to the sort of obsessive critique like the one above would be unimaginable. So far as I know, not even Barack Obama (who is one of the most unpopular presidents in history, and has been criticized for nearly everything) has had his footwear excoriated by conservative critics.

Unless a male candidate committed a ridiculous footwear gaffe (like, say, wearing flipflops with a business suit to a serious event), no one thinks male candidate’s shoes are worth more than a passing occasional reference. OTOH, if a male candidate were spotted wearing stiletto heels, that might not endear him to the family values crowd…. But we are talking about the norm here, not extreme outliers.

Anyway, I would not have even known about this urgent national issue had the inimitable Charles G. Hill not spotted it in an amusing post titled “Before the Platform Committee.” He thinks a malevolent force may underlie Bachmann’s shoe choices:

I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that the same malevolent force that gives Bachmann her migraines might also cause her massive pain at any heel height deemed fashionable.

Malevolent forces cause me massive pain too. But at least I can be glad I don’t have to aspire to fashionable heights.