Failed Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann gave a rousing and inflammatory address to the conservative Values Voter Summit in Washington on Friday, bashing the Obama administration's handling of the fury in the Middle East.
Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, compared current events to those of the late 1970s under the Carter administration.
"Staggering unemployment, high gas prices, struggling economy," she said. "You'd almost think Jimmy Carter's back in the White House again, wouldn't you? Only what we see is we are again desperate for another Ronald Reagan."
The crowd roared in appreciation.
Bachmann, who has come under fire before from Republican defense hawks like Sen. John McCain for calling into question the patriotism and loyalty of a former top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton based in part on her ethnicity, sought from the start to couch her remarks against accusations of prejudice.
"No one here is suggesting that all Muslims are radical, but we should not be ignorant of the objective reality that there is a very radical wing of Islam that is dedicated to the destruction of America, of Israel and of Israel's allies," she said.
Bachmann, echoing the line taken by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the aftermath of a series of attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East, including the deadly attack in Benghazi that resulted in the loss of four American diplomats, said reasons for the protests run deeper than one anti-Muslim film.
"What we're watching develop before our eyes today are the direct consequences of this administration's policy of apology and appeasement across the globe," she said. "It didn't just happen out of nowhere."
Castigating President Obama, Bachmann seemed to yearn for when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was in power.
"President Obama went on his first foreign policy trip to Cairo, and he spurned our long-time ally, Egyptian President Mubarak, by inviting the very violent Muslim Brotherhood, who, at that time was outlawed in Egypt, to attend his speech," she said.
Mubarak was the second dictator overthrown during the Arab Spring.
Bachmann also accused the Obama administration of brainwashing U.S. security agencies in "political correctness toward Islam" when they scrubbed manuals of certain references to Islam at the behest of groups seeking to smooth tensions between Western and followers of Islam.
"It took only days for the Obama administration to reply to this demand letter from the Islamists, promising to set up a task force with these same organizations to immediately begin this unprecedented purge of our counterterrorism training in every federal agency across the board. It's breathtaking," she said. "We're quickly losing our sense of who we are as a nation, and we're losing our ability to identify our radical Islamist enemy."
She called on Congress and the White House to cut off foreign aid to Egypt if they continue to "inflame sentiments against the United States."
"The time has come to stand unashamedly this week for our freedom and our values and draw an unmistakable red line for our enemies across the world," she said, adding that Obama should withdraw his invitation to the current Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to the White House and cancel the recently planned joint military exercises.
Bachmann even accused Clinton and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano of violating federal law by granting visas to terrorists, a move Bachmann said was to allow them to come to the White House and negotiate for the release of other terrorists.
"You would think this was a novel that you're reading, not reality," she said.
Her well-received oration culminated with a call for Obama to "get his priorities straight."
"What he needs to do is cancel his interview with David Letterman, cancel his meeting with Beyonce, cancel his meeting with Jay-Z and instead agree to meet with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu," Bachmann said.
She finished with a pitch for the November election.
"So let's make sure that with everything within us, we lay it on the line in the next 50 days, because it is my belief and my opinion that Barack Obama has been the most dangerous president we have ever had on American foreign policy," she said. "And we cannot sustain another four years of Jimmy Carter-like policies."
Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.
- See the latest political cartoons
- Visit the U.S. News Election 2012 website for breaking coverage
- Follow U.S. News Debate Club on Twitter
Correction: a previous version of this story has been updated to correct that President Mubarak was the second dictator overthrown in the Arab Spring, not the first.