GOP 2012 presidential hopefuls (Getty Images)

In his Chicago Tribune column, Clarence Page writes that knowledgeable politicians have a choice when it comes to complex issues like foreign relations: They can try to educate the public or they can try to stoke voters' fears, anger, resentments and suspicions. Republican presidential candidates appear to have decided that no knowledge is best and that the next-best thing is demagoguery.

How important is it to have presidential candidates who, when talking about Libya, know where Libya is?

Rep. Michele Bachmann accidentally raised that question last week during the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas with her response on a foreign policy issue. 

She was opposing President Barack Obama's recent decision to send a small number of American special operations soldiers to Uganda to help defuse that East African country's ongoing civil war.

"The president, he put us in Libya," Bachmann complained. "He is now putting us in Africa."


Bachmann went on to say something about how our forces "already were stretched too thin," but she lost me when she put Libya outside of Africa.

Bachmann's flub would not be a big deal if it didn't appear amid a Republican field infected with a nose-thumbing strain of willful ignorance about the rest of the world.

Read Clarence Page's complete column at the Chicago Tribune.