A few months ago, three of Congress’ most ridiculous members – Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), and Steve King (R-Iowa) – traveled to Cairo, met directly with the leader of the Egyptian coup, and then filmed a video praising both the uprising and the violent crackdown on pro-Morsi demonstrators that followed. It was, even at the time, an alarming example of federal lawmakers traveling abroad to contradict the official foreign policy of the United States.
And it didn’t help that Bachmann suggested the Muslim Brotherhood was responsible for 9/11.
This week, the exact same congressional trio made another trip to the Middle East. The Libya Herald reported:
Three rightwing Republican members of US Congress – Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert and Steve King – made a lighting trip to Libya [Wednesday] to assess the situation in the country. All three have been particularly forthright in their criticism of the US government following Ambassador Chris Steven’s killing at the US diplomatic offices in Benghazi in September 2012. They accuse the Obama administration of covering up facts in the case. Last week, Steve King said that the attack in Benghazi was ten times bigger than Watergate and the Iran-Contra scandals together.While in Libya, the delegation visited the General National Congress and met with Congress President Nuri Abu Sahmain.
Members of Congress are certainly entitled to travel abroad and speak to whomever they please, but it’s nevertheless unsettling when this particular trio hits the road, especially in sensitive geo-political areas.
The problem with Bachmann, Gohmert, and King taking their show on the road, however, is that no one can be sure how much damage they’ll do while saying strange things overseas.
We already know with certainty that right-wing conspiracy theories, spouted by Bachmann and Gohmert in particular, can actually influence international events. Sure, Americans know these members of Congress are not to be taken seriously, but when the trio shows up for meetings in Libya, has anyone passed relevant officials a note saying, “Just smile and nod; these folks are bonkers”?
I should note that this week’s Bachmann/Gohmert/King trip didn’t generate a lot of media coverage, and it’s unclear if the lawmakers did any diplomatic damage while in Libya. One assumes this has something to do with Benghazi conspiracy theories, but even that’s unclear – none of the three even issued a press release about their trip.
But when these three travel abroad, claiming to represent the U.S. Congress, it’s rather alarming, isn’t it?