What’s Up With Bachmann’s Eyes?

Michele Bachmann and her black-hole-sun peepers

Is Bachmann a teacher? Her pupils are enormous!

I don’t know what Michele Bachmann said tonight. I don’t really know what Obama said or Paul Ryan said either, in their respective featured moments during tonight’s big State of the Union jamboree. I caught the barest glimpse on the TV. It’s all recorded on my DVR, I’ll catch it later.

But what the heck is up with Michele Bachmann’s eyes?

She’s standing in what has to be an intensely lit setting for the video cameras, and yet her pupils are dilated like Syd Barrett’s during a lysergic acid-fueled freakout at the UFO Club.

Is she wearing some kind of contact lenses? What in the world is up with this woman’s orbs?

And by the way, who is she looking at? The bit of video I saw of her Republican rebuttal to the Republican rebuttal showed her gazing off camera the entire time. We’re over here, ma’am!

Late addition, Jan. 26, 1:43 p.m. CST: We’ve now been informed that Ms. Bachmann was gazing intently into Tea Party Express cameras, and apparently couldn’t be bothered with the MSM camera in the room.

Late addition, Jan. 26, 2:11 p.m. CST: A Kevblog reader points out that, no, she wasn’t looking into the Tea Party Express camera either (see comments below).

Late addition, Jan. 26, 2:13 p.m. CST: Happily, this post has been featured as an entry at Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Dish, at TheAtlantic.com. Thanks to Chris Bodenner for the link!

Late addition, Jan. 26, 11:28 p.m. CST: The Dish’s “Daily Wrap” makes its second and final reference to the Kevblog today.

Today on the Dish, Patrick rounded up the SOTU reax, including the three words most NPR listeners heard, while Nate Silver put Obama’s power in perspective. Conor illuminated the real state of the union and obliterated the perfunctory SOTU editorials, while Douthat bemoaned the lack of specifics on the deficit. Alex Balk comforted us about the state of our stomachs, and Kevin Featherly ogled Bachmann’s pupils. (My emphasis.)

Ogled? Ouch!

Still, it’s like they say. No publicity is bad. Thanks for both mentions, Dishmeisters.



  1. Kevin, I believe she was looking at the Tea Party camera. Remember that all of her promotion of the speech was for the Tea Party Express web feed. I’m betting that CNN’s camera was positioned a few feet to the side, thus explaining the odd focus of the Representative.

  2. Is that true? I wasn’t watching the broadcast so I never heard if that was explained. I just saw her in passing on the TV and noticed that her eyes looked mighty strange.

    • Her eyes look “dead” because there is no reflection of light in the pupils whereas the surrounding iris is well lit. This is apparently the result of the crew’s “fill” light being located on the opposite side of the camera from the teleprompter. A physicist would describe the arrangement as creating a sort of “blackbody simulator”. In such a system, the only photons coming from her pupils would be the result of her internal body temperature which we can guess is relatively low.

      • That is really an interesting surmise, and I wonder if perhaps you are correct. After having written that post, I’ve been paying attention to the pupils of talking heads in well-lit TV studios. And while the effect is not nearly so spooky and pronounced as it was in the the Bachmann case, there is a tendency for their pupils to be slightly dilated, rather than reduced to pin-pricks–the effect you would expect as a result of being bombarded with light. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I’m fairly certian – though I’m no expert – that she has heat vision.

  4. Yeah, that’s the story. I heard some commentator on NPR this morning who made a bit of a deal about the symbolism of her looking straight at the Tea Party online camera which was well off to the right of the mainstream media camera. I’ve heard it enough places by now to believe it… I didn’t see it either, btw, from either perspective.

  5. If you watched the “V” show in the early 1980s you would know that all of the lizard-aliens wore contact lenses to cover their lizard pupils.

  6. I think that you just defined ‘crazy eyes’.

  7. The Tea Party feed has the same issue. My assumption is the teleprompter was placed off to the side.

  8. Those screenshots make Bachmann look like a high-end sex doll. Just sayin.

  9. Flying Spaghetti Monster 01/26/2011 at 11:14 am

    Ya know, I was thinking the very same thing about Paul Ryan’s pupils during his rebuttal. When I wasn’t fixating on that little string of saliva that sometimes attached itself to his lips and stretched as he spoke, that is…

  10. Probably wearing circle lenses like Lady Gaga in Bad Romance. They are all the rage in Asia. http://www.styleite.com/beauty/lady-gaga-circle-lenses/ Bachmann is just enough of a freak to not realize how weird it is for a politician to wear them.

    • That’s what I thought, the Lady Gaga big circle lenses. Either that or she’s becoming a bad anime character…

  11. Her lids are painted to look like they are open.

  12. It has got to be ‘shrooms. That explains a lot.

  13. My guess: her handlers got their hands on some research showing that people are more apt to like and trust people with dilated pupils, so they’ve put drops in her eyes in an effort to take advantage of this. I suspect the likability effect is diminished when the person in question isn’t making eye contact, and/or is sanity-challenged…

    • Susan J Johnson 06/22/2011 at 1:32 am

      I was looking for someone to mention this possibility. It was my immediate suspicion when I saw those unnaturally big and even more vapid than usual looking eyes of hers. I hope this theory gains wide publicity, and if true, is proven to be true. Voters should know the lengths of fakery to which any candidate will go to gain a possible small advantage.

  14. Nice Syd Barrett reference! There’s something in the Tea!

    • Syd is a sadly neglected figure. He might not appreciate the comparison to Rep. Bachmann, though. Although you could never be sure. He was rather a great distance ’round the bend.

  15. She was looking at a low-fi teleprompter.


  16. I just thought it was odd that the only two foreign words in the speech were Iwo Jima…. and she pronounced it Eyewo Jiama. Speaks volumes about her historical knowledge and knowledge of anything beyond Minnesotas borders.

  17. Lillian Gillies 01/26/2011 at 12:16 pm

    Ever read Weekly World News? I think she’s related to Batboy.


  18. Ewu Jama??

  19. Like Anthony Wiener said last night, “She’s not in contact with the Mother Ship.” That could explain the pupil issue.

  20. > If you watched the “V” show in the early 1980s

    My thought exactly. Let’s see if birds and small mammals panic when she’s around. And does she eat veggies?

  21. Uh… You guys realize pupils get large when they are in a low-light environment, right? That seemed to be the situation here.

    Not that bachman isn’t crazy.

    • Have you ever been in a room with a professional video crew? I worked at the web site at WCCO-TV and I was around that environment a lot. They light up the room like they are about to perform surgery. And while it may be true that the Tea Party Express brought only a flashlight to the job site, the CNN crew would have brought in floodlights. Look at how regular the lighting is on her face. This is not a low-light environment.

  22. She looks like one of those old dolls. If you tip her head back her eyelids probably snap shut.

  23. Flying Spaghetti Monster 01/26/2011 at 1:55 pm

    Your screen capture is so beautiful. It really captures the plastic contours of this Uncanny Valley Girl.

  24. Esquire called it a “Manson-girl” gaze.

  25. could be fear & anxiety….. imagine how scary it would be to be her and be that stupid.

  26. Cross posting a comment I found in The Guardian:

    [ more on her http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/michaeltomasky/2011/jan/26/michele-bachmann-why-does-she-say-these-things: with links to more scary videos including a BBC interview worth seeing ]

    Bloody hell!
    Are they popping out diabolical clones from Tea Party Factories and then sticking on weird and lifeless eyes that stare into the middle distance, just to freak out the rest of the known world?

    This is like the Boys From Brazil, but with Palin clones that seems to have gone awry in the mixing process.

    The voices! The voices, they like a million scratching beetles trying to get up a chalkboard.

    Make it stop! Make it stop!

  27. Lawrence Quist 01/26/2011 at 4:40 pm

    I am an ophthalmologist. I look at a lot of pupils. I don’t think her pupils are abnormally dilated.

  28. I’m very upset. I love Syd Barrett. That woman is no Syd Barrett.

  29. Ibogaine – FTW.

  30. This picture of Ms. Bachmann has the unfortunate effect of making her look like one of those life sized anatomically correct sex dolls ready for action. Dilated pupils and all. Must explain some of her appeal. Does anyone, I mean anyone, believe that this woman and the other one (you know who I mean) would have the public attention they command if they weren’t, uh, comely in their own special ways?

  31. She just filed her claim to be named the rightful successor to Tammy Faye Baker.

  32. look at a photo of Ted Bundy, and Charles Manson. Psychopaths are legend for their cold, life-less eyes. Many stories of Juries being unnerved by them. In the book “Without Conscience” The disturbing world of the Psychopaths among us. In one section some people were trying to figure out what they resembled. One person said “kind of like fish eyes”,…then another said “reptilian”,…but that was not quite right either,..then,…another got it!! GOAT EYES,…life-less and hollow,…like to black holes. Does this mean Bachman too is a psychopath,…the author stresses not to use this feature alone to assess this, but a group of traits; glibness, lack of remorse, impulsiveness, lack of empathy. I just think its interesting when I looked at Ted Bundy’s eyes and Charles Manson. Most people do not know,….1 in 25 Americans is a Sociopath,…1 in 100 is a Psychopath,…so it is not inconceivable.

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