In Defense of Michele Bachmann

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 23 2012 5:55 PM

In Defense of Michele Bachmann

Why is the Global Post's new story about the Muslim Brotherhood making the rounds as proof that Michele Bachmann is wrong, wrong, wrong? On one level, I get it: People who dislike Bachmann want to believe that she's stupid. But Erin Cunningham's story gives the Brotherhood a surprising amount of deference.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Start with the lede.

Michele Bachmann has again ignited a political firestorm in the US, claiming last week that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has “infiltrated the highest levels of US government,” including the White House.
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She didn't "claim" that. She engaged in a lot of question-begging, sure, but she was asking several branches of the government to investigate whether "brotherhood operatives" had snowed the government, and what kind of security checks were being done before radical Muslims entered the U.S. Her complaint about Huma Abedin, ironically, undermined her whole argument, because the State Department aide had well-known family connections to the Brotherhood but had made it therough a security clearance. Still, this is written to make Bachmann sound extra-crazy.

Back to the article:

“The Muslim Brotherhood can’t even penetrate the Egyptian government,” said a Brotherhood leader in Egypt’s Daqheleya province, Ibrahim Ali Iraqi, in response to the accusations his group had infiltrated top US agencies.
Indeed, having assumed the presidency following a year of economic tumult and political upheaval, the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi is grappling with severe domestic problems — not least of which is his battle with the ruling military for executive power.
“We are in a period of darkness because the country is still governed by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces — and they have a long history of support from the United States,” Iraqi said. “So it’s ridiculous that these accusations are leveled at us.”

Got that? Bachmann's obviously wrong because the Muslim Brotherhood says she's wrong. And the Brotherhood pooh-poohs its own election wins, because it's still being sidelined by the military. Sidelined? Sure. But Bachmann's point was that the Brotherhood did far better electorally than American politicians had predicted.

Bachmann's Muslim-quest was absolutely an own-goal, a casserole of old facts and questions that, when put together, undermined her argument. But when did we start trusting politicians -- in this case, Egyptian politicians -- as the last authorities on whether or not they're telling the truth?

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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