Mike Simpson isnt 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 Bachmanns accusations pretty dangerous. Sen. John McCain said the attacks were specious and degrading.
But the 2nd Congressional District lawmakers candid comments still deserve applause.
I thought it was outrageous, Simpson told the Statesman editorial board Friday. We dont need to go back to those days. I thought wed 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 Clintons 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 didnt 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 shes 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.
Its one thing when critics from the left play the McCarthy card especially when the likes of Bachmann make it so easy.
Its 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 cant blame Simpson for wanting his party to be defined by some Republican other than Bachmann. Theres nothing wrong, in moderation, with a little enlightened self-interest.
After criticizing Bachmann on Friday, Simpson was asked whether he had a working relationship with her.
Not anymore, he said, chuckling.
Oh, well. Some things are more important. Such as saying what needs to be said.
Our View is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesmans editorial board.