Michele Bachmann: Yes, it’s time to leave Congress

The words to an old country song performed by Roy Clark are running through my mind: “Thank God and Greyhound [she’s] gone.”

Well, she’s not left yet, but Michele Bachmann, a star of the Tea Party and the punchline for many a late-night comedian’s joke, made a surprising announcement Wednesday morning that she will not run for a fifth term from Minnesota’s 6th District.

The eight-minute, 40-second video, posted on her Web site, doesn’t really explain why, except that she feels like eight years is “long enough” and that she “never considered holding public office to be an occupation.” Bachmann emphasized that her decision was not due to “recent inquiries” into the activities of her 2012 run for the presidency or her campaign staff, nor did she fear losing reelection, even though her last win was a closely fought race with Democrat opponent and hotel magnate Jim Graves.

Of course, she was quick to say that the “mainstream liberal media” will put “a detrimental spin” to the news. (She’s right, of course.) Never mind that she took the opportunity to blast President Obama:

I’ve pointed out this administration’s despicable treatment toward our great friend and ally Israel, and at the same time giving little more than lip service to the ever-increasing and dangerous nuclear threat of Iran, making publicly clear this administration’s outrageous lack of action in Benghazi, Libya, and the subsequent political coverup which resulted in the deaths of four honorable, dedicated public servants.

I’ve also called out this administration, and the Treasury Department, for allowing and perhaps even for encouraging partisan, selective enforcement against American citizens based upon their political beliefs that aren’t in line with those of the administration.

“Outrageous.” Really? Bachmann herself has become a household name for her outrageous — and controversial — statements over the years. Even Rush Limbaugh thought she’d gone too far in 2011 when she claimed the HPV vaccine Gardisil, mandated for girls by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, caused mental retardation.

Argue  if you want that the statewide requirement steps on personal liberty, but don’t throw in baseless and unfounded medical claims to try to bolster your position.

Last year, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said it was “pretty dangerous” for Bachmann, along with four other Republicans, to accuse former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, of being part of a conspiracy by the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the U.S. government. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called Bachmann’s attack “sinister,” and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer compared the congresswoman to communist-hunting Joseph McCarthy.

I find Bachmann’s future departure a great opportunity for the Republican Party. As Kansas’ favorite son, former presidential candidate and Senate majority leader Bob Dole told “Fox News Sunday,” the GOP needs “to be closed for repairs.” He’s disturbed, as many of us are, by the Republicans’ obstructionist views.

Bachmann prides herself on sticking to her conservative constitutional values. I applaud her for that, but at what cost to the country, when budgets can’t get passed and potentially beneficial legislation is stuck because bipartisanship has left the building?

We need lawmakers who know when to bend and how to work together.

Diana Reese is a journalist in Overland Park, Kan. Follow her on Twitter at @dianareese.

 

 

Diana Reese is a journalist in Overland Park, Kan. Follow her on Twitter at @dianareese.

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Mary C. Curtis · May 28, 2013

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