Here is a sneak preview of Tuesday's editorial.
Mike Simpson isn’t the first fellow Republican in Congress to blast Rep. Michele Bachmann — who has suggested Muslim extremists have inflitrated the U.S. government.
House Speaker John Boehner has called Bachmann’s accusations “pretty dangerous.” Sen. John McCain said the attacks were “specious and degrading.”
But the 2nd Congressional District lawmaker’s candid comments still deserve applause.
“I thought it was outrageous,” Simpson told the Statesman editorial board Friday. “We don’t need to go back to those days. I thought we’d learned our lesson when (Wisconsin Sen. Joseph) McCarthy finally went down.”
Bachmann, not too many months removed from her brief time as a trendy presidential candidate, managed to make it back into the national headlines with an escapade deserving of the McCarthyesque label. The Minnesota Republican and four House colleagues pursue the “infiltration” claim in letters to several federal agencies — one, for instance, says Huma Abedin, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, had three family members affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
By publicly calling out Bachmann, Simpson distingishes himself from the rest of the all-Republican Idaho delegation.
First District Rep. Raul Labrador said he didn’t know enough to be in position to criticize Bachmann, a House Intelligence Committee member. “I think we would be foolish to think that people are not trying to infiltrate our government,” he told the Statesman editorial board Monday. “I would hope that she’s smart enough to have enough evidence to make a statement like that.” In a separate editorial board meeting, Sen. Mike Crapo said he was unfamiliar with the issue; through a spokesman, Sen. Jim Risch declined comment.
It’s one thing when critics from the left play the McCarthy card — especially when the likes of Bachmann make it so easy.
It’s another thing, though, when a fellow Republican makes an analogy that echoes back to a dark moment for the GOP. Simpson does it to make a point: Bachmann and her bunch reflect badly on all Republicans. “The public says, ‘There go those Republicans again.’”
So, yes, there is plenty of self-interest at play here. In less than three months, American voters will decide whether to keep Democrats in control of the White House and the Senate, and whether to keep Republicans (that group that includes Simpson and Bachmann) in control of the House. You can’t blame Simpson for wanting his party to be defined by some other Republican than Bachmann. There’s nothing wrong, in moderation, with a little enlightened self-interest.
After criticizing Bachmann Friday, Simpson was asked if he had a working relationship with her.
“Not any more,” he said, chuckling.
Oh well. Some things are more important. Such as saying what needs to be said.