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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bachmann: Perfect for Low-Information Voters

Under President Obama's watch, we've seen some fairly radical changes in the Middle East just this year alone. When the Egyptian people rose up against Hosni Mubarak - Egypt's human-rights abusing dictator and, until recently, our man in Egypt - and demanded a more democratic government, Obama refused to support our erstwhile ally, things ran their course, and now the Egyptian people have Mubarak in the dock and are trying to figure their own way forward. No American troops present at all, no loss of American lives, and a step toward greater democratic freedoms in a major, important country in the Middle East has been achieved. Good.

When the Libyan people rose up against Qaddafi earlier this year, Obama did put U.S. military power behind a series of air strikes to prevent Qaddafi from essentially slaughtering his own citizens, but even then that power was led and controlled by NATO. Once more, no American toops present, no loss of American lives, and now the Libyan people have driven Qaddafi from power. Once more, a step toward greater democratic freedom in an important country in the Middle East (well, not geographically, but culturally) has been achieved. Good.

In the midst of the Syrian uprising against its government, President Obama has - so far, at least - refused to get the U.S. involved. Just as with Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, this is a matter for the Syrian people to work through themselves; America should not be in the business of installing governments we like over people who aren't, y'know, us.

And speaking of Tunisia, once again we see a people taking steps on their own to achieve greater democratic freedom, once again pushing out an aging despot, and once again doing so without the U.S. throwing its military might around to decide events for them. Good, right?

One thing you can say about the Arab Spring: regardless of how it ultimately turns out (and history teaches that any sudden change in government can be a tricky thing to negotiate), events this summer have reflected the will of the people involved and not been the forced result of U.S. intervention. Yay!

So I was a little surprised to see that Michele Bachmann was attempting to credit President Barack Obama for the Arab Spring. After all, Bachmann is running to take Obama's job away from him - why would she want to give him credit for something that he didn't do? And then I read the article more carefully. Bachmann doesn't credit Obama for the Arab Spring, she blames him for it:
"Just like Jimmy Carter in the 1970s didn't have the back of the Shah of Iran, we saw the Shah fall and the rise of the Ayatollah, and we saw the rise and the beginnings of radical jihad, which have changed this world and changed this nation," Bachmann said . . . . "So too under Barack Obama, we saw him put a lot of daylight between our relationship with our ally Israel."

Bachmann linked the Arab Spring, which has resulted in pro-democracy uprisings in countries like Egypt, Syria and Libya, to the President's earlier stance that negotiations between Israel and Palestine should begin at the 1967 boundaries.

"And when he called upon Israel to retreat to its indefensible 1967 borders, don't think that message wasn't lost to Israel's 26 hostile neighbors," Bachmann said. "You want to know why we have an Arab Spring? Barack Obama laid the table for Arab Spring by demonstrating weakness from the United States of America." (emphasis added)
Just . . . wow.

Where most everybody who isn't named Qaddafi or Mubarak see great, hopeful signs that the Tunisian, Egyptian, Libyan, Syrian people might get rid of despotic, repressive regimes and move toward something more closely resembling democracy, Bachammn looks out and sees only - I guess - "unrest." I get the sense that Bachmann's entire thought process went like this: (i) Hosni Mubarak is a U.S. ally; and (ii) Hosni Mubarak is widely despised by his own people, who in a fit of self-determination seek his ouster; so therefore (iii) the United States should flex its might and attempt to quash this uprising.

I have no idea why Bachmann thinks we should have tried to preserve Qaddafi's grip on power, or why the U.S. apparently should have tried to squelch the Tunisia uprising, or the one taking place in Syria now, but that's okay -- I'm pretty sure Bachmann can't give me an answer to those questions anyway. Michele Bachmann almost perfectly fits the caricacture of a low-information candidate: she believes certain things very passionately (HPV vaccine makes kids retarded!), without any reason for believing those things (ibid), but has no compunction about letting those things spew from her pie hole.

I suppose the only thing positive to say about all this is that at least Bachmann's know-nothing candidacy doesn't seem to match up well with America's know-nothing voters. A recent Gallup Poll shows that most Americans "see the Republican Party as better able than the Democratic Party to protect the country from terrorism and military threats . . . ."

Yeah, that's right. The same party that produced a president who killed Osama bin Ladin, is presiding over the U.S. combat troop withdrawal from Iraq, and - according to Michele Bachmann, at least - is responsible for democratic uprisings in Syria, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, is considered by American voters to be less capable than the Republican Party (under whose term we saw the 9/11 attacks, the failure to capture Osama bin Ladin, and the disastrous plunge into the Iraq War) at handling terrorism and military affairs.

My God, I sometimes weep for American democracy.

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