Michele Bachmann Really Wants to Become Our Generation’s Joseph McCarthy

Michele Bachmann's been a busy bee this summer, what with writing a 16-page letter detailing her two-part paranoid fantasy that the Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated the highest offices of the U.S. government and that she, after a failed primary bid for the presidency, is still a relevant figure in the national political landscape. The letter is a response to Minnesota lawmaker Rep. Keith Ellison's call for Bachmann to provide evidence for her earlier accusation that that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, was a terrorist sympathizer.

Salon's Alex Seitz-Wald writes that Bachmann's letter offered little by way of tangible proof that Abedin and others were at all connected with the Muslim Brotherhood or any other terrorist groups. Instead, Bachmann takes the opportunity to defend her charges, pointing to Abedin's late father, Professor Syed Z Abedin, as proof that, in a very long chain of whisper down the lane, Abedin had connections to the Brotherhood. She cites an article in the 2002 Brigham University Law Review about Professor Abedin's work, which included founding an organization that allegedly received "quiet but active" support from the former director of the Muslim World League, an NGO that was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood from the 70s through the 90s. That's pretty convoluted, but hey, Bachmann's is on the House Select Committee on Intelligence — it's her job to be paranoid about all this stuff.

Except that the initial letters Bachmann wrote to inspectors general and national security agencies about Abedin's six-degrees of Bacon connection to the Muslim Brotherhood all mention favorably the investigative work of Frank Gaffney, whose opinions, according to Ellison, "have been widely discredited, including by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and conservative organizations." Bachmann's new questionable source in this latest of her term papers is Steven Emerson and his Investigative Project on Terrorism, which Seitz-Wald, citing an assessment from the Southern Poverty Law Review, describes as being "part of the cottage industry of Islamo-phobia on the fringe-right." Nevermind all this, though — the real problem, at least in Seitz-Wald's estimation, is that Bachmann has just gone around telling everyone about all of her top-secret conspiracy theories, thereby ignoring the first and most important rule about paranoid fantasies — if you share them with people, you sound like a crazy person.

It's not hard to imagine that Bachmann is spending her summer evenings in the guest bedroom she's turned into her own special "command center," surrounded by index cards tacked to the walls and connected by one Byzantine web of yarn. Marcus might emerge from his boudoir one last time, nursing a now warm glass of chardonnay that he poured for his overzealous wife, and say, "Honey bunches, I'm going to bed — don't fight the good fight too long." Of course, she wouldn't even hear him or notice that he'd stealthily opened his kimono in an attempt to lure her to bed — Michele Bachmann is too busy trying to make herself appear useful.

Bachmann defends her witch hunt [Salon]