You’d probably expect Rep. Michele Bachmann — three-term member of Congress, founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, parent to 23 foster children, and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World — to be judged on her own merits. But whenever you find Bachmann’s name in the headlines these days, it seems Sarah Palin’s name isn’t far behind.

And some observers are starting to suspect it’s no accident.

“A Tea Party Favorite Stirs Iowa. No, Her Name Isn’t Palin,” touts one New York Times headline. “GOP Has a Lightning Rod, and Her Name Is Not Palin,” declares another. A lead story on Politico on Friday was titled, “Palin, Bachmann Size Each Other Up.”

Of course, headline writing these days is designed to pack popular search terms into one line. But if Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, announces next month as expected that she’s running for the GOP 2012 presidential nomination, she’ll have to find a way to put the Palin comparisons behind her.

Boston University communications professor and media analyst Tobe Berkovitz tells Newsmax that the real commonality between Palin and Bachmann is that both “are a threat to the liberal orthodoxy of what constitutes acceptable powerful female politicians. Both have strong personalities and successful media personas.”

“Although Bachmann does not have as lengthy a track record as Palin when it comes to gaffes, by connecting the two together the media creates an impression that among Bachmann’s personal characteristics is the quality of putting her foot in her mouth,” he tells Newsmax. “Both politicians are Herculean fundraisers, and have the power to draw large and enthusiastic crowds. The media powers-that-be hope to defang Bachmann, before she can become a significant national candidate.”

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