EDITORIAL: Bachmann’s exit

Congress loses a constitutional champion

Rep. Michele Bachmann announced Wednesday she would not seek a fifth term. The Minnesota Republican’s rise to prominence crested with her victory in the Iowa GOP’s presidential Ames Straw Poll in August 2011, and it went downhill from there.

Like most presidential bids from House members, Mrs. Bachmann’s ended in disappointment with a sixth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. The potential for campaign-finance violations from her White House quest has also clouded her departure, which she characteristically explained in constitutional terms. The president is limited to two four-year terms. “In my opinion,” Mrs. Bachmann said, “Eight years is also long enough for an individual to serve as a representative for a specific congressional district.”

If only her colleagues shared that sentiment. Mrs. Bachmann did her best to promote the limited-government message in the Capitol through her founding of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus. Her leadership on pro-life issues will also be missed, considering that she and her and her husband have lived their beliefs as foster parents to many children over the years.

The principled conservative message made Mrs. Bachmann into one of the left’s favorite targets. Democrats even pounced on her retirement announcement, giddy at the chance to use the occasion to relive the Minnesotan’s gaffes and misstatements.

In a battleground of ideas, liberals are outgunned. President Obama’s economic policies were stolen from Jimmy Carter’s policy manual from the 1970s. They were a failure then, and it’s no surprise that they’re a disaster now. Thus, the left finds it much easier to go after the personal failings of the messenger, zeroing in on verbal stumbles of no real consequence to divert the debate away from ideas. Though Mrs. Bachmann wore her disparagement by liberals in the media as a badge of honor, she can’t be blamed for seeking a break from the constant assault of pettiness.

It’s not like the same technique can’t be used on Democrats. Vice President Joe Biden is perhaps the world’s most productive gaffe machine. “Folks, I can tell you I’ve known eight presidents, three of them intimately,” he told an audience. At another event, he explained the administration’s No. 1 priority “happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs.” President Obama told an Oregon audience in May 2008 that he’d campaigned in “57 states” with “one left to go.” He mispronounced Navy “corpsman” as “corpse-man” twice in a February 2010 speech.

Fortunately, Mrs. Bachmann vows to remain in the fight — which means the battle will be about ideas. “I will continue to work vehemently and robustly to fight back against what most in the other party want to do,” she said in the 8-minute video she used to announce her decision to step down. That’s good news, because America can’t afford to lose the voice of principled, limited-government advocates.

The Washington Times

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