Drip, drip, drop.
It’s possible to feel sorry for Rep. Michele Bachmann. The people who dislike her dislike her so intensely that they will try to make her pay a maximum price for her mistakes.
But she does it to herself, over and over, saying things that she can’t back up. And she seems to lack the humility to take anything back or admit error, often hiding behind half-baked partial excuses.
In the current brouhaha, for example, she emphasizes that she hasn’t disparaged the loyalty of Huma Abedin (the deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton), but has only questioned how Abedin could have received her high-level security clearance given the connections that Bachmann perceives (none of them direct connections) between the Muslim Brotherhood and some of Abedin’s relatives. Abedin is now getting extra security after receiving unspecified threats, the New York Post reports. Surely, it consoles her to know that Bachmann hasn’t explicitly suggested there is any evidence against her patriotism or loyalty.
The main difference between this one and the dozens of other Bachmann eruptions is that this time she has been publicly criticized by a huge and growing number of prominent Republicans. Among the latest of these was her House Republican colleague Erik Paulsen. Of course you had already heard about John McCain, John Boehner and her former presidential campaign chief Ed Rollins.
Personally, I was impressed that the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee repudiated Bachmann’s statements that the Muslim Brotherhood has deeply penetrated the U.S. government, telling USA Today: “That kind of assertion certainly doesn’t comport with the Intelligence Committee.” That seemed a little more important than some of the others because it undermines any inference that perhaps because she is on the Intelligence Committee, she knows some things that McCain and Boehner do not.
On Friday, the Washington Post’s political guru Chris Cillizza bestowed “who had the worst week in Washington” honors on Bachman.
My other favorite, just for humorous value, was a comment obtained by the Global Post from a provincial leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. When asked about the alleged Brotherhood penetration of the U.S. government, Ibrahim Ali Iraqi wisecracked: “The Muslim Brotherhood can’t even penetrate the Egyptian government.”
(In case you don’t get the joke, the Muslim Brotherhood has done extremely well in both parliamentary and presidential elections in post-Mubarak Egypt, but it’s not at all clear that the military is going to allow them to have any real power.)
If you want more satire on the topic, see Andy Borowitz.
The Star Tribune editorially suggested that if Bachmann doesn’t either back up her assertions of ties between Rep. Keith Ellison and the Muslim Brother, or retract them, the House should consider censuring her.
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni is up this a.m. with a piece questioning Bachmann’s Christianity:
Bachmann’s concept of Christian love brims with hate, and she has a deep satchel of stones to throw. From what kind of messiah did she learn that?…My aim here isn’t to re-litigate Bachmann’s crimes against reason and decency, all widely documented.
It’s to wonder why we accept her descriptions of herself, and in turn describe her, as a deeply religious woman. That grants too much credence to her particular, peculiar and highly selective definition of piety. And it offends the many admirable people of faith whose understanding and practice of religion aren’t, like hers, confrontational and small-minded.
Other than providing all these links, my main purpose in returning to this topic was to follow up one last week’s post in which I wondered why this was the occasion for so many Republicans to publicly repudiate Bachmann, when they have not done so in the past. I elicited theories from two Washington insiders (both Minnesotans).
Former Congressman (now big-time lobbyist and Republican political operator) Vin Weber emailed me: “Part of it is that many top Republicans know and like Huma, and that personalizes the attack. Also, there’s been a fairly systematic effort to fight anti-Muslim bias on the right. … I think a lot of Republicans are getting it at several levels — civil rights, national security and practical politics.”
Jim Manley, an Edina native who until recently was the chief spokester for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (which means he’s viewing the question from a Democratic perspective) said that he has noticed several prominent Republicans looking for opportunities to distance themselves from “some of the more extreme views being articulated by Tea Party types.”
Bachmann, you many know, chairs the Tea Party Caucus in the House.
Manley says the Tea Partiers are “slowly but surely losing their juice on Capitol Hill.”
Over recent years, it’s been “getting harder and harder to know where the line was that you couldn’t cross, but [Bachmann] apparently crossed it this time.”