WASHINGTON — Libyan rebels dramatically overtook the compound of the country’s defiant long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi on Tuesday — and even as it was happening, political leaders in the United States remained largely quiet on the matter.
The only major leader to say anything on the subject has been President Obama, who, earlier this week, recognizing the rebels’ Transitional National Council as the formal government of Libya and calling on Gadhafi to acknowledge the end of his regime to avoid further bloodshed.
But Congressional leaders have been quiet, as have many rank-and-file members of Congress. From Minnesota’s delegation, only a handful of members have said anything on the subject, and one of them did so chiefly because she’s running for president.
Republican Michele Bachmann has long opposed Obama’s Libya strategy, wherein the United States plays a supporting role to NATO forces more heavily involved in the conflict. She said there is no prevailing American interest in the outcome to justify using American resources there, and at the same time hit Obama for “leading from behind.”
Ellison, the delegation’s most prolific Twitter user, was a bit more celebratory in 140-characters, saying in a string of tweets, “Gaddafi’s 4 decade rule over Libya has ended! Gaddafi’s compound was surrounded; Saif al-Islam [Moammar Gadhafi’s son] captured; presidential guard quit. Great wishes of hope for people of Libya. You won the civil war; all the best on winning the peace! Bless Libya’s patriots. … Very near victory, God Willing, belongs to Libyan people, but Obama’s America led NATO to make critical contributions. Thanks Obama!”
Ellison also retweeted messages of support from several of his followers.
Republican John Kline is the only other Minnesotan to speak out on the issue. In Rochester on Monday, Kline said the country’s new government would need to look to European and American governments for support, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reported.
“They need some help in governing, and that remains to be seen how that’s going to work,” he said.
For a few days in late June, Congress took its eyes off the debt ceiling debate to focus briefly on Libya. The House voted down a resolution authorizing U.S. force there, but it also voted against a bill that would have defunded military operations in the country.
From Minnesota, only Democrats Ellison, Tim Walz and Betty McCollum supported the first piece of legislation; only Republicans Kline and Chip Cravaack supported the second.
At the time, both Minnesota senators indicated they supported the mission as long as no U.S. troops went into Libya.