McCarthyism redux: Bachmann's wild claim deserves condemnation
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Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has never been one of the most respected voices in Congress. In her brief run for the Republican presidential nomination, she could not broaden her appeal much beyond Tea Party activists and far-right nativists.
After winning the Iowa straw poll, Ms. Bachmann faded from serious contention. Now seeking reelection to the House, she continues to make headlines, this time for an outrageous claim.
She has accused a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, of being secretly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Ms. Bachmann and several House colleagues allege that the movement has infiltrated the upper echelons of government and that Ms. Abedin is its most visible agent.
The congresswoman has used only a guilt-by-association argument to make her case, saying Ms. Abedin's late father, mother and brother were connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives or organizations. Yet she refuses to back down even after being confronted by fellow Republicans.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona denounced the Bachmann accusations as "sinister." House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio called the allegations "dangerous." Ms. Bachmann found allies, however, in the usual places: broadcasters Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
It all sounds familiar. Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy used similar tactics in the 1950s when he insisted Communists had infiltrated the State Department.
Now the controversy may be hurting Ms. Bachmann's bid for another term. A recent poll showed her leading the Democratic challenger by a slim margin, 48 percent to 43 percent. A wild claim possibly designed to give her candidacy a boost may be the one that does her in.
First Published July 29, 2012 12:00 am