It is one thing for politics to enter silly season in the midst of unbearable summer heat. It is another thing altogether for the right wing to resort to baseless McCarthyite attacks: tying people to terrorism based on bias and animus and with no foundation in fact or reason.
Go no farther than Rep. Michele Bachmann’s latest rant. The Minnesota Republican claimed in a letter several weeks ago that the Muslim Brotherhood has somehow exerted influence over the policies of the State Department. Bachmann gave as evidence of this bizarre and outlandish claim the fact that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin, the wife of former Rep. Anthony Wiener, is Islamic, and has family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The tenuous link posited by Bachmann is so stupid that it doesn’t even bear dignifying with repetition.
Suffice to say that anybody who ever worked with or had contact with Huma sees someone of spectacular skill, loyalty, and dedication to both the secretary of state and this nation. Even Sen. John McCain—that well-known liberal icon—pushed back at Bachmann’s ridiculous claims on the floor of the Senate:
“When anyone—not least a member of Congress—launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation and we all grow poorer because of it.”
But there is a point here beyond the simple observation that this ugly attack is a return to a low point in our political history. In a courtroom, the credibility of a witness can be judged on issues separate from the question at issue in the trial itself. Because if someone will lie, distort, or show absurd failures of reasoning and logic in one domain, then they will in others as well. So the Bachmann rant—and the tawdry politics it displays—reflect the general lack of respect she has displayed over a much longer period of time to fact, logic, sound policy, and decency.
It was good to see Sen. McCain call her to task. It would be better to see her frivolous claims ignored as we go forward.