By Daniel Rigney
Gearheads will long remember the Canadian rock band Bachman-Turner Overdrive for turning out one Top 40 hit after another in the 1970s, including “Let It Ride” and “Takin’ Care of Business.” I was reminded of the group this week when a political rivalry between Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin shifted into overdrive following a few invidious public remarks made by Bachmann’s political consultant, Ed Rollins.
Rollins insinuated that Sarah Palin might not have the intellectual stature and substance of character that his own candidate possesses, adding that Ms. Bachmann is "every bit as attractive" as Ms. Palin. The former Alaska half-governor must still be stinging from that last comment.Rollins’ remarks may have set off what has commonly been called a “catfight,” or even a “female dog fight,” between these two potential candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
Today we might reach for less overtly rude ways to talk about a fight between two scrappy and ambitious women, both eyeing the same seat of honor at the head of the Republican Party’s table this fall.
Male candidates have been waging rivalries like this for decades and centuries. When men fight each other for political dominance, we have a rich choice of slang terms to describe their competition, ranging from “pissing contest” to “gunfight.”
I’m not sure I like the word-picture that “pissing contest” creates in the mind’s eye when we describe two men engaged in an angry exchange of political urine streams. I’m even less sure I like the picture when the rivalry is between two women. Let’s not go there. This is a cultivated column, not some tabloid reality television show.
And as for a “gunfight” between Ms. Palin and Ms. Bachmann, I’m afraid Ms. Palin would have the helicopter’s advantage in that exchange. Michele the Gazelle would be down and skinned in no time.
We need a kinder, gentler metaphor. I’m settling on calling this emerging rivalry the Bachmann-Palin Overdrive.* Gentlewomen, start your engines.
In the words of a favorite BTO pop song, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.”
P.S.: After posting this column, I did a quick scoop-search and discovered that no fewer than ten writers (including Tyler Vincent of our own open.salon.com) have beaten me to the pun in the title. Not since Anthony Weiner's recent media exposure have we seen this kind of competition to discover historically- inevitable wordplays.