Reconsidering Michele Bachmann

The Washington Post reports today that al Qaeda’s successful attack on the Algerian natural gas plant has greatly boosted al Qaeda’s prestige in Africa. Along the way, the Post notes rather casually:

The assailants were well-trained and armed with what appear to have been weapons from the late Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s arsenal.

The overthrow of Moammar Gaddafi has turned out to be a terrible blunder. It has empowered radical Muslims, led directly to the Benghazi debacle, and scattered Gaddafi’s armory among terrorist elements, including al Qaeda. There has been, of course, no accountability for the Libya decision, either with respect to the Obama administration or others outside the administration who supported Obama’s policy.

All of which reminded me of Andy McCarthy’s column in National Review. McCarthy criticizes John McCain for his support of Obama’s failed Libya policy, and contrasts McCain with another Republican who gets less respect as a foreign policy expert:

[T]he senator and his allies in the Obama-Clinton State Department had a brilliant notion: The reason the “rebels” of eastern Libya hated America so much had nothing to do with their totalitarian, incorrigibly anti-Western ideology. No, no: The problem was that we sided with Qaddafi, giving the dictator — at the insistence of, well, McCain and the State Department — foreign aid, military assistance, and international legitimacy. If we just threw Qaddafi under the bus, the rebels would surely become our grand democratic allies.

This, of course, was a much more sophisticated theory than you’d get from lunatics like Michele Bachmann. Sit down for this, because I know it’s hard to believe anyone could spout such nutter stuff, but Bachmann actually opposed U.S. intervention in Libya. She claimed — stop cackling! — that many of McCain’s heroes might actually be jihadists ideologically hostile to the U.S. and linked to groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the terror enterprise’s North African franchise. She even thought — yeah, I know, crazy — that if Qaddafi were deposed, the heroes would get their hands on his arsenal, ship a lot of it to AQIM havens in places such as Mali and Algeria, and maybe even turn rebel strongholds such as Benghazi into death traps for Americans.

Good thing we listened to McCain, no?

McCarthy moves on to Egypt:

Now, however, McCain says he will push for American taxpayers to fork up another $480 million for Morsi. Or, to be accurate, borrow another $480 million. You see, the United States is already so deep in the red that a $16.3 trillion debt ceiling is not high enough. In fact, we’re such a basket case that our debt-service and “entitlement” payments alone put us in a quarter-trillion-dollar deficit hole even before we borrow and print another trillion-plus for such ancillary expenses as the Defense Department, the Obama family’s vacations, and the $80-odd million that funds “democratization” programs at McCain’s International Republican Institute. But hey, no problem — what’s another $480 million on top of the $2 billion–plus the Obama administration has already extended to Morsi’s regime . . . to say nothing of the sizable U.S. taxpayer chunk of the $4.8 billion IMF loan the Brotherhood government is also about to get its mitts on?

Naturally, “extremist” conservatives like Michele Bachmann are wet blankets when it comes to this gravy train, too. Get this: She thinks that when you get to the point where you have to borrow in order to pay the interest on the loans you already can’t pay off, somebody needs to cut off your credit line — not inflate it by another two or three trill. Even more daft: She thinks that if you subsidize an organization, like the Brotherhood, that promotes sharia and Hamas, you’re apt to get more sharia and more terrorism.

Andy notes something of which I was unaware–an effort to kick Michele Bachmann off the Intelligence Committee because she had the temerity to suggest that it was a bad idea for the Secretary of State to employ a staffer with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

McCain, between praising his Islamist “heroes” and championing ever more funding for Islamist Egypt, made certain to lambaste Bachmann on the floor of the Senate over her concerns about Brotherhood infiltration of our government – leading other influential Republicans to follow suit. And now, aping that display, People for the American Way — “PAW,” the outfit created by a hard-left Hollywood icon to smear Robert Bork and derail his Supreme Court nomination — is campaigning to have Bachmann booted from the House Intelligence Committee.

There is a war on over the course of American foreign policy and the security of the United States. The Left has aligned with the Brotherhood — some naïvely relying on the fiction that the Brothers are not the enemy vanguard, others seeing the Brothers as comrades in the quest for a utopian, post-American future. In opposition, the GOP can either continue looking to McCain for leadership or rally behind Bachmann the way the Left always circles the wagons around its stalwarts.

McCarthy isn’t sanguine about which way the GOP will jump.

All of this reminded me of the dark days of 2008, when the original TARP bill was cobbled together virtually overnight in response to panicked assertions by President Bush’s advisers that a financial collapse was in the offing. I didn’t blame Bush at the time for going along with the advice he was getting, but with hindsight, TARP was a huge mistake. Once the bailouts started, there was no turning back, and the result, a mere four years later, is that the relationship between the the federal government and the private sector has dramatically changed, perhaps forever. Whatever the result of letting one or two major banks fail might have been, it would have been far better than the state capitalism that we have been bequeathed by the Obama administration.

So once again, it is worth asking, who had the foresight back in 2008 to see where all of this was going and to stand vigorously against it? Well, Michele Bachmann, for one. The Political Guide recalls:

Congresswoman Bachmann has opposed the TARP program from its inception, and voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which created the TARP program. With the initial collapse of Bear-Stearns and the panic which ensued afterwards, Congresswoman Bachmann called for calm, and mocked the repeated assertions of “too big to fail.”

As it became obvious that a government program would be created to address the financial crisis, Congresswoman Bachmann stated that Congress was being told that the consequences of inaction or even of deliberative action would be severe; but that the consequences of hasty action were just as dire. She noted that Secretary Paulson is asking taxpayers to pony-up $700 billion to buy Wall Street’s debt without a vote by the American people. She stated that shareholders in companies that receive government funds should not make a profit off those funds, and referred to the taxpayers as the “forgotten man.”

As the TARP program came into focus, Congresswoman Bachmann noted that the US people had been told numerous times that financial commitments to Bear-Stearns, AIG, and Fannie-Mae and Freddie-Mac would solve the problems and each time more bailouts were requested. She stated that the bailouts should stop and that Fannie and Freddie should be placed into receivership.

Just before the initial vote on the EESA, Congresswoman Bachmann noted that if a lack of credit was the problem in the economy, suspending mark to market rules and other items would have a larger and better effect than the infusion of cash. When the vote initially failed in the House, Congresswoman Bachmann stated that the plan was rushed, unworkable, and short-sighted.

When President Bush and President-Elect Obama asked for the second half TARP, Congresswoman Bachmann again stated that the measure was rushed and done without proper consideration. She stated that Congress was committing the next generation to servitude in passing the legislation.

When President Obama had the stock purchased with TARP changed from preferred to common stock, Congresswoman Bachmann noted the illegality of the move and cited it as further evidence that the program was out of control.

Unfortunately, not enough people–not even enough conservatives–listened to those warnings at the time.

Michele is a personal friend, which has not stopped me from occasionally expressing frustration with the fact that she has been known to go off half-cocked, and instinctively tries to fight every battle rather than picking her spots. Michele’s combativeness has come at a price; in November she eked out her narrowest win yet. The Minneapolis Star Tribune gleefully headlined: “Humbling year ends in silence for Bachmann.”

Now the Minnesota Republican is hardly heard from anymore, barely uttering a word in public during the simmering build-up to the “fiscal cliff” deal in Congress, which she opposed.

Gone are the boisterous rallies opposing Obamacare, the rousing church testimonials and the controversial TV utterances about Islamist moles in government that raised money even as they rained down critical headlines.

Since her wafer-thin re-election in November in the state’s most solidly Republican district, Bachmann has sharply dialed down her national profile, staying off television and remaining in the background of a raging congressional debate over taxes, her signature issue as a former IRS attorney and deficit hawk.

There is nothing wrong with keeping a lower profile for a while, but let’s hope that Michele has not fallen silent for long. With respect to the major issues of the last few years, she has been not just a bellwether, but a prophet.

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