One would think that a U.S. congressman accusing the president of the United States of maneuvering to aid Al Qaeda — an act verging on treason — would be headline news around the nation.
That’s how I heard Rep. Louie Gohmert’s attack on President Obama’s Libya policies earlier this week. But when I called the Texas congressman’s office Thursday, an aide clarified that Gohmert intended to say only that the president formulated bad policy in Libya because he got bad advice.
That’s good to hear now. But Gohmert, a frequent and virulent critic of the president, ought to choose his words more carefully the next time he commiserates with his friends on right-wing radio.
Gohmert was visiting Tuesday with host Frank Gaffney, a Washington Times columnist whose radio show mostly reaches listeners via an online stream.
The congressman described how the revolts of the Arab Spring had provoked a whole new series of challenges and problems in the Mideast. Fair enough.
But it’s when he bored in on Libya that Gohmert put reason on the shelf.
“Getting rid of Kadafi, it wasn’t enough to send verbal accolades,” he told the radio audience. “This administration sent planes and bombs and support to oust Kadafi so that Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood could take over Libya.” (Hat tip to thinkprogress.org for pointing out the inflammatory rhetoric.)
The “so that” construction seemed particularly damning — suggesting it was Obama’s intention to get rid of Libya's brutal dictator only to pave the way for the terrorist organization that the president has sworn to wipe out.
Forget the facts at the time -- that Obama moved to prevent Kadafi's army from slaughtering rebels and civilians. Forget, also, that Republicans like Sen. John McCain of Arizona hit Obama hard for not acting more quickly to help speed the ouster of Kadafi.
I reached Gohmert’s spokeswoman, Kim Willingham, Thursday afternoon and noted that his pronouncement seemed to virtually accuse Obama of treason.
“That statement was never about the intent of the president,” Willingham emailed back, apparently after speaking to her boss. “This was a result of the president having good intentions — but getting very bad advice.”
I’m not sure why Gohmert, who just won his fifth term in the House, didn’t say it that way when he was speaking to Gaffney's radio audience.
But perhaps the website rightwingwatch.org gives a hint. It reports that the congressman previously joined with Rep. Michele Bachmann, his fellow Republican from Minnesota, to demand investigations of Muslim Americans serving in the Obama administration. He also warned, the website reports, that Muslim Brotherhood secret agents have successfully conducted “deep penetration” of the U.S. government.
America holds its breath awaiting a shred of evidence to back up either of those conspiracy theories. In the meantime, it’s safe to assume that Rep. Gohmert doesn't let the facts, or precision, get in the way of a good conspiracy theory.