Ask and You Shall Receive... Criticism
July 25, 2012 - Wednesday
If you're wondering why the congressional approval rating is averaging 14%, it's because too many members seem to check their backbones at the Capitol door. Fortunately for conservatives, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) never has that problem. One of a number of rank-and-file members who still speaks honestly about her convictions, Michele is beloved by the Tea Party and the grassroots because she puts America first. Like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and others, her decisions are not informed by the polls, but her conscience. And because of it, she's paid a significant price.
While Michele's approach has earned her the respect of conservatives, it has often resulted in the Leadership's scorn. This week's controversy is the latest example. Together with other members of Congress, Michele sent a letter to the Inspectors General of the Departments of Defense, State, Justice, Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence requesting an investigation into the political influence of radical Muslims. They were following up on allegations that the U.S. government, and specifically an aide of Secretary Hillary Clinton, may have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Their inquiry, which was carefully crafted, did not accuse anyone of wrongdoing but did question if national security had been compromised. Not surprisingly, the content of the letter was wildly distorted by the media. Rather than check the substance of Michele's letter, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took to the Senate floor and attacked her based on misleading news reports.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also weighed in, suggesting that the members' insinuations were "pretty dangerous." "From everything that I know of [Clinton's staffer], she has a sterling character." As Michele reiterated, this is not an indictment--but an inquiry. And a well-substantiated one at that. In a tense exchange between Rep. Bachmann and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Muslim Representative in the House, the Congresswoman responded to charges of "Islamaphobia" with a "16-page rejoinder and 59 footnotes to original sources" outlining her concerns.
We may never know if the information in Michele's letters has any validity--but it is still her duty to ask. For members of her own caucus to dismiss those questions--and marginalize her for them--exposes deeper problems in the Republican Party. "As members of Congress," Michele said, "we are charged to oversee and hold accountable all government agencies--a charge given to us by the Constitution on behalf of the citizens of the United States. To do anything less is to subvert the oaths we took as members to protect and defend the Constitution." Michele's job, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, is to ask the tough questions. Like us, she believes the business of national security shouldn't be driven by political correctness. It requires careful scrutiny, vigorous debate, and fearless leadership--three things on which Rep. Bachmann will not compromise.
March Madness: Members Blast Military's Parade Policy
The problem in San Diego's gay pride parade wasn't that active duty troops were saluting the flag. The problem was which flag they were saluting. Dozens of service members joined the celebration of homosexual excess, flying the rainbow colors--and, for the first time in U.S. history, they did so in uniform. Plenty of Americans were outraged by the Pentagon's supposed "one time exception" on dress code policy--including two congressional leaders. Both Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) released scathing statements about the Defense Department's obvious favoritism for homosexual causes and called for inquiries into this "blatantly political determination issued solely to advance this administration's social agenda."
"If the Navy can punish a Chaplain for participating in a pro-life event or a Marine participating in a political rally," wrote Sen. Inhofe, "it stands to reason that the [Department of Defense] should maintain the same standard and preclude service members in uniform from marching in a gay pride parade. I respectfully request a detailed explanation of the rationale you used to grant this 'one time waiver' of DOD policy, who requested the waiver, why this waiver was considered justified over other requests, and whether you are considering other exceptions to current policy..." The "freedom to serve" is one thing. But the military's freedom to advance a controversial cause in its official capacity is quite another.
Billy Graham's New Crusade--for America
The Rev. Billy Graham has never been an overtly political figure. He counseled Presidents, yes. But it wasn't until this year's marriage debate in North Carolina that the popular evangelist waded into the cultural battle to stay. In endorsing the state's marriage amendment, Rev. Graham said he never thought he'd live to see the day that he had to defend marriage as the union of a man and woman. Today, his profound concern for our nation is only deepening.
In a public letter about America's moral decline, Rev. Graham says, "My heart aches for America and its deceived people." He describes a world spiraling out of control. "Just a few weeks ago in a prominent city in the South, Christian chaplains who serve the police department were ordered to no longer mention the name of Jesus in prayer. It was reported that during a recent police-sponsored event, the only person allowed to pray was someone who addressed 'the being in the room.' Similar scenarios are now commonplace in towns across America. Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone--except God." He tells the story of his wife, Ruth, reading the manuscript for his book some years back and exclaiming, "If God doesn't punish America, He'll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!"
Fortunately, Rev. Graham writes, "Our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance." That's what he and the entire Graham family are praying for: a contrite America, where revival--the kind sparked by Rev. Billy Graham all over the world--is possible.