Bachmann & Bin Laden at CPAC

Terrance Heath

Michele Bachmann’s speech at CPAC 2012 wasn’t quite the start turn that her appearance in 2011 — when Americas Bachmannia infection started spreading. I guess that’s the difference between being a newly-announced presidential candidate and being a newly-dropped-out presidential candidate. (She was asked to leave. Twice. So, did she drop out or was she dismissed? A little from Column A, and a little from Column B?)

Michele Bachmann - Caricature
Bachman scored some laughs about the three things she learned as a presidential candidate

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), free from the constraints of running for president, opened her speech at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference with a joke.

“Running for President of the United States is really one series of humiliations after another, but it’s also a very educational experience,” she said.

“I know where John Wayne was born.”

“I know the day Elvis Presley was born.”

“Thirdly, I learned never forget the three things that you learn,” she said.

Then she launched into a foreign policy speech that revealed how much she has yet to learn.

Of course, what Michelle Bachmann doesn’t know could fill several libraries.

So, I’m going to keep this short. Bachmann spent most of her speech attempting to turn President Obama’s foreign policy successes into failures. (Though she seemed to be settling for predicting that they will turn into failures at some later date.) Then she did something interesting.

She may have mentioned that the U.S. took down Osama bin Laden on Barack Obama’s watch. If she did, I missed it. Maybe I blinked. It’s no secret that President Obama giving the nod to the mission that bagged bin Laden sticks in many a conservative craw. Not only did it deprives them of a convenient bogey man to drag out when needed to frighten Americans into pouring more money into Iraq and Afghanistan, but it gave rise an annoying question: Why didn’t we do it that way in the first place?

It’s a fair question, but Bachmann breezed right by it and instead dwelled upon the conservative notion that Bill Clinton had a chance to get bin Laden and took a pass. It’s understandable. Even FactCheck.Org initially thought Clinton had passed up a chance to kill Osama bin Laden, but upon further investigation changed it’s answer to “probably not.”

I can understand Bachmann’s problem. She can’t praise one Democratic president (Obama) for killing bin Laden, so she wrongly accuses another Democratic president (Clinton) of “letting him go.” In her pumps shoes, I’d be tempted to do the same.

But I’m not. So, I can go ahead and point out that there’s a eight-year gap in Bachmann’s timeline. That would be George “Dubya” Bush’s watch, during which the Bush administration had a chance to get bin Laden in Afghanistan, but let him slip away.

Bin Laden had written his will, apparently sensing he was trapped, but the lack of sufficient forces to close in for the kill allowed him to escape to tribal areas in Pakistan, according to the report.

It said former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and top U.S. commander Gen. Tommy Franks held back the necessary forces for a “classic sweep-and-block maneuver” that could have prevented bin Laden’s escape.

“It would have been a dangerous fight across treacherous terrain, and the injection of more U.S. troops and the resulting casualties would have contradicted the risk-averse, ‘light footprint’ model formulated by Rumsfeld and Franks,” the report said.

When criticized later for not zeroing in on bin Laden, administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, responded that the al Qaeda leader’s location was uncertain.

“But the review of existing literature, unclassified government records and interviews with central participants underlying this report removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora,” the report said.

Bachmann, at least, admitted the world was a better place without Osama bin Laden in it, even if she didn’t give any credit to the president who ordered the mission that killed bin Laden. That’s because conservatives don’t so much lament that bin Laden was killed. It’s just that when he went, with him went most American’s reasons for supporting the wars conservatives used his terrorism to justify in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The end of the war in Iraq, and the approaching end of the war in Afghanistan, is something that I have heard conservatives like Bachmann and Sen. Mark Rubio lamenting at CPAC today, if not the thousands of lives and billions of dollars both have cost.

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