The Bachmann dividing line

Updated
 

For all of its faults, the Republican Party excels in several areas – most notably message discipline and internal cohesion. With that in mind, it’s been fascinating to see Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) divide her usually-unified party.

To briefly recap, Bachmann and a handful of right-wing colleagues recently launched a bizarre crusade, urging executive branch agencies to launch investigations to determine whether the Muslim Brotherhood has “infiltrated” the American government. Bachmann is specifically concerned about Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is Muslim.

Several prominent Republicans have stepped up to say Bachmann went too far. But not all.

Ali Gharib flagged this clip this morning, in which House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) implicitly defended Bachmann’s antics, telling CBS, “I think that her concern was about the security of the country.”

That’s pretty weak tea. What matters is Bachmann’s attempted witch hunt, not her motivations. She has “security” concerns? That’s not much of a defense – Joe McCarthy no doubt had “security” concerns, too.

Cantor was given an opportunity to do the right thing, but instead he effectively defended Bachmann. In the bigger picture, this creates two large, distinct GOP camps, both of which have notable Republican leaders.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for example, condemned Bachmann’s offensive effort, and soon after, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) characterized Bachmann’s accusations as “pretty dangerous.” Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), one of the House’s most conservative members, offered criticism of his own, and the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee went out of their way to make clear that Bachmann’s accusations are not supported by any evidence that has been presented to Congress and that the committee did not sanction Bachmann’s crusade.

On the other hand, Romney campaign advisor John Bolton is on Bachmann’s side, as are Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh. Eric Cantor, apparently, seems to fall into this camp, too.

And where’s Mitt Romney, ostensibly the Republican Party’s national leader? To date, he hasn’t said a word on the controversy.

Huma Abedin and Michele Bachmann

The Bachmann dividing line

Updated