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All this time, I’ve been reading about Mitt Romney’s reluctance to pick up on the Michele Bachmann anti-Islam crusade as an example of his political cowardice. Bachmann’s efforts to instigate a Muslim witch-hunt were so egregiously hateful that even a small number of GOPers – those who still have a remnant of conscience – were willing to risk the ire of their mean-minded base and call her out.  I assumed Mitt’s reluctance to discuss the issue reflected the dilemma of a man who, like John McCain, knows better,  but who can’t afford to alienate his only real supporters – the folks who hate Obama and Muslims enough to vote for Romney just because he isn’t either.

Seems, though, that I was wrong – either that or Mitt’s cowardice just hasn’t paid off as regards the aforementioned base. None other than St. Louis fringewing luminary, Dana Loesch, wants us to read Mitt’s silence on the topic of Bachmann as a simple failure to take up the cudgels for free speech, which she presents as a potentially useful political gambit (via DailyKos):

If I were — which I’m not, I’m not advising him, he couldn’t afford me — it just seems so easy to do. Like, if they’re asking him, “What is your thought on the Chick-fil-A story, what do you think about Michelle Bachmann and the Muslim Brotherhood?” he could say, “I don’t have a problem with free speech, do you?”

And that report that Congresswoman Bachmann — the inquiry that they presented towards Congress — that raised a lot of questions. And who’s against free speech?

Who, indeed, is against free speech? Not I certainly. Michele Bachmann has every right to speak freely – but that does not make the content of her speech right correct, nor does it mean that others should let her get away with inciting hateful action without speaking out. I, for example, also have the right to speak freely and point out that Bachmann’s a hateful moron, which in no way contravenes Bachmann’s free speech rights.  So if Loesch is saying that folks should feel free to speak their minds, I agree – and I’ll go a bit further even and say that it would be great if Mitt Romney would do so and, just once, be up front with us about what he really thinks – and not continually try to game the political angles, even in the way suggested by Loesch.

After all, you can only go so far in politics and avoid all specifics. However, it’s also reasonably clear that you can’t go too far at all if you’re given to defending obvious bigotry. Nobody asked Mitt if Bachmann had a right to say what she did, just whether or not he agreed with the content, her call to take action against Muslims in government. Which fact just might explain why Mitt has hesitated to take advice of the sort Loesch is handing out.

And, just for fun, what’s that business about Mitt Romney (multi-billionaire beneficiary of political donors who fit the same description) not being able to afford Loesch? She’s trying to say she’s too principled to work for his prevaricating likes, or is it the case that the poor baby has delusions of grandeur? It’s hard to say, of course, since her advice seems to consist of just about the same drivel he’d get from any random Tea Party celebrant.

*Last sentence edited for grammar.