How disappointing that Michele Bachman, a stalwart conservative, has, in the home stretch of the Iowa campaign, started playing the gender card.

An AP story reports:

She's urging voters to embrace the idea of a "strong woman in the White House" and is molding herself as "America's Iron Lady" in the vein of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Ms. Bachmann, I didn’t know Lady Thatcher, but I know enough about her to know she never played the gender card.

It gets worse:

"I'm an Iowa girl. And one thing I remember about Iowa is we are a state of strong women," Bachmann told the lunch crowd at a 50s-themed burger joint in Mount Ayr. "We need a strong woman to turn this country around, right?"

Bachmann is a bright woman who energized the campaign upon jumping into the race. It is perhaps understandable that she would pull out all the stops in Iowa, where she won the straw poll early on but is polling in or near the last place now.

But playing the gender card is what liberal women do. One of their favorite mantras is that we need more women in office. No. We need more people who understand that the country is in dire economic straits and have the will to deal with our problems. Whether they are men or women is beside the point.

I have no idea what it means that Sarah Palin has called upon Ms. Bachmann to get out of the race and allow voters to coalesce around another candidate.

It could be a personality thing (male politicians have personality conflicts, too) or it could just be Palin being realistic.

I only wish that Bachmann, even in a pinch, hadn't stooped to playing the gender card.

It was unworthy of her.