Bachmann, Ellison among few to speak out on Libya

A Libyan girl celebrates in Green Square in Tripoli on Tuesday.
REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
A Libyan girl celebrates in Green Square in Tripoli on Tuesday.

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.”

Rep. Keith Ellison
REUTERS/Eric Miller
Rep. Keith Ellison

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.

Rep. John Kline
Rep. John Kline

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.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/24/2011 - 10:14 am.

    Someone needs to remind Rep. Bachmann that when you butter both sides of the bread, you can’t help but make a mess.

  2. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 08/24/2011 - 10:19 am.

    So Michelle, would you rather say a positive word about the Prez or have your fingernails torn out? Just wondering.

  3. Submitted by C.S. Senne on 08/24/2011 - 11:13 am.

    #2: Perfect! LOL

  4. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 08/24/2011 - 11:40 am.

    So the House wouldn’t approve the war, but they did approve the funding. Huh? That settles the legality question, not that I expect Republicans to do anything but spin however they have to to avoid giving credit to Obama, and then they’ll try to forget it. Never mind that the whole Arab Spring might have been stopped if Gaddafi had been allowed to slaughter the rebels, and it took Obama’s action to prevent that. To answer Jackson’s question, I’m pretty sure she’d go for the fingernails torn out, and I expect she’s a typical Republican.

  5. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 08/24/2011 - 02:54 pm.

    I’m happy for the Libyan people UNLESS, as some military types suggest (and perhaps some in the State Department), US and other NATO forces remain to help “stabilize” their country.

    The Libyans don’t want us there any more than the Iraqi people want us to stay on in their country. We can’t afford it; we must give up the idea that only the US can keep the world safe; Rome and other empires that fell did so because they were overextended militarily (England graciously, others not so much).

    The words “Three Quagmires In a Row: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan” come to mind. Do we really want to risk Libya possibly being added as a fourth?

  6. Submitted by chuck holtman on 08/24/2011 - 05:23 pm.

    Ms Vetsch (#5): Unfortunately, Libya has signficant amounts of oil & gas. They’d better get the guest bed ready, we’re coming to help them!

  7. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/25/2011 - 07:13 am.

    The end of Qaddafi’s rule seems like a good thing but to be a political victory for Obama, geologists will have to discover a deep reservoir of American jobs under the sands of Cyrenaica.

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