Female Trouble

Michele Bachmann’s Attacks on Women, From Huma Abedin to Nancy Pelosi

Huma Abedin is only the latest female in politics the congresswoman has gone after. By Caitlin Dickson.

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Michele Bachmann has apparently convinced herself and four other members of Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated the federal government and Hillary Clinton aide (and wife of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner) Huma Abedin is to blame.

In June Bachmann and her fellow Republican representatives penned a letter to Ambassador Harold Geisel, the deputy inspector general at the State Department, suggesting that some department policies and activities seem to be influenced by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, “whose mission in the United States is ‘destroying the Western civilization from within’—a practice the Muslim Brothers call ‘civilization jihad.’” In the letter, Bachmann & Co. implicate Abedin in helping further the Islamist group’s agenda. “The [State] Department’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin, has three family members—her late father, her mother, and her brother—connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations. Her position affords her routine access to the secretary and to policymaking,” they write. In addition to Geisel, the letter was sent to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as well as the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Defense.

On Wednesday an infuriated Sen. John McCain took to the Senate floor to condemn the letter’s accusations and defend Abedin, whom he called “a friend” who “represents what’s best about America.” McCain said Bachmann’s allegations were “sinister.” On Thursday McCain’s argument was substantiated by Ed Rollins, Bachmann’s former presidential campaign chief, who wrote “Shame on you, Michele,” in a FoxNews.com op-ed. “I am fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts, but this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator Joseph McCarthy level.”

Bachmann’s heavy-handed accusations have received significant backlash, and this certainly isn’t the first time she’s said something controversial. But it’s also not the first time she’s targeted another female. Let’s take a look at some of the other ladies Bachmann has taken a swipe at in the past.

Michelle Obama, First Lady

Michelle Obama’s big thing is fighting obesity. She’s embarked on a campaign to get more mothers to breast-feed their children, citing studies that suggest children who are breast-fed for the first four to six months have less chance of becoming obese than those who consumed formula or solid foods before then. She’s also been pushing to break down barriers to nursing in the workplace. Michele Bachmann—and a lot of her fellow Tea Partiers—did not like this campaign. Bachmann went on Laura Ingraham’s show and, though she nursed all five of her own children, balked, “To think that government has to go out and buy my breast pump for my babies? You wanna talk about the nanny state, I think you just got a new definition.”

Bachmann also suggested that Michelle Obama might run for office one day and her breast-feeding campaign was just a preview of the “nanny state” legislation she’d try to push through if elected. “Can you imagine if Laura Bush was doing that, out trying to pass her legislation? I think the media would have been after her.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Bachmann got into it with Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Meet the Press, though it was pretty tame. The topic was abortion, and Bachmann insisted that Republican members of Congress “want women to have their own choices” despite opposing President Obama’s effort to require businesses or their insurance plans to pay for female employees’ birth-control coverage. Gillibrand argued that women are unable to make their own choices if contraception is not affordable and available to them. “We want health savings accounts and the ability to be able to make their own choices in health care,” Bachmann said. “You see, that’s the lie that happens under Obamacare. The president of the United States effectively becomes a health-care dictator. We want women to have their own choices, their own money.”

Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has been Bachmann’s punching bag on more than one occasion. Back in 2010, Bachmann singled out Pelosi during her speech at the annual Values Voter Summit. She told the crowd of socially conservative activists that Pelosi “had been busy sticking the taxpayer with her $100,000 bar tab for alcohol on the military jets that she’s been flying.” PolitiFact took a closer look at the “bar tab” in question and rated Bachmann’s interpretation of Pelosi’s expenses to the Values Voters as “pants on fire,” i.e. untrue.

In April the representative from Minnesota called Pelosi “pathetic” for alleging that the GOP was waging a war on women. “She wants to continue this fiction that every Democratic messenger is trying to put forward, which is there’s a war on women,” Bachmann said on Fox Business Network. “There is no war on women. There’s never been a war on women.”

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Elena Kagan, Supreme Court Justice

Before being appointed to the Supreme Court, Justice Elena Kagan was the Obama administration’s solicitor general. In the summer of 2011, Michele Bachmann called for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether Kagan should be blocked from hearing any cases brought against President Obama’s health-care law because she had been involved in building the law’s legal defense in her prior position. Kagan had already recused herself from many Supreme Court cases because of her involvement in them as solicitor general. Bachmann and the 48 other House Republicans who drafted a letter to the Judiciary Committee insisted that justices, like Kagan, should recuse themselves from cases where they “served in government employment and in such capacity participated as counsel, adviser, or material witness concerning the proceedings or expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy.” When the Supreme Court justices heard arguments against the Affordable Care Act, Kagan was present.

Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary

Apparently there are some ways in which Bachmann doesn’t want the U.S. to be like China—including that nation’s one-child policy, which she warned was an actual possible outcome of the contraception-coverage mandate in President Obama’s health-care law. “Women have a lot to lose under Obamacare, and I’ll give you an example,” she said on Glenn Beck’s TV program Real News From the Blaze in March. Specifically, she pointed to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services. “She said that it’s important that we have contraceptives, because that prevents pregnancy, and pregnancy is more expensive to the federal government,” Bachmann said. “Going with that logic, according to our own health and human services secretary, it isn’t farfetched to think that the president of the United States could say ‘We need to save health-care expenses—the federal government will only pay for one baby to be born in the hospital per family. Or two babies to be born per family.’ That could happen. We think it couldn’t?”

Iowa High-School Student

Not all of Bachmann’s beefs have been with women in politics. One high-school student took on the former presidential candidate during a campaign stop at Pizza Ranch in Waverly, Iowa. A representative of her high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, this young lady wanted to know whether, if elected, Bachmann’s government would do more to support the LGBT community. Bachmann insisted that gay Americans have the same rights as all Americans. Then why, the ballsy teenager asked, are gay couples not allowed to marry? They are, insisted Bachmann, as long as who they marry is of the opposite gender, because “that’s the law of the land.” The two went back and forth for a few minutes, with the debate only ending when the teenager realized she wasn’t getting anywhere.