One of the most colorful and controversial characters in the House of Representatives is Tea Party Republican Allen Bernard West. West was elected to Congress in January, 2011, and is the first black Republican Congressman from Florida since reconstruction. West served in the United States Army for over 20 years including several combat deployments, achieving the rank Lieutenant Colonel. West spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 20, 2010, and was endorsed by former Governor Sarah Palin. As one of 32 African-American Republican candidates for Congress in 2010, West said he supported the Tea Party movement and dismissed the notion that the movement was motivated by racism.
Since joining Congress, Allen West has made some appalling and bizarre statements and comments that, in my opinion, are not appropriate for a political leader. For example, at a Republican Party dinner this past January, 2012, West said of Democrats, “Take your message of equality of achievement…You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America.” Though he called out Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi by name at the dinner, vowing to stop Obama from destroying the country, West defended his comments by saying they were directed not at congressional Democrats but at their “message.”
In January 2011, Congressman West condemned the official flying of a Palestine Liberation Organization flag in Washington, DC, saying that the raising of the flag is “an attempt to legitimize an organization with a known history of terrorist actions”. During an interview, West stated that Keith Ellison, a Democratic Minnesota Congressman and practicing Muslim, represents the “antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.” West later said that his initial comment was misinterpreted and “not about his (Ellison’s) Islamic faith, but about his continued support of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).” CAIR is not a terrorist organization but works to raise awareness about Islam and Muslims and has continuously and courageously condemned all forms of terrorism and extremism. Even former President Bush was a CAIR supporter.
On July 19, 2011, in response to comments directed at him in a speech Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic Representative and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman made on the House floor after Congressman West had departed the chamber, West sent an email to Congresswoman Schultz, which he copied to members of House Democratic and Republican leadership, characterizing Wasserman as “the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives“, that she was “not a Lady” and asked that she focus, instead, on her own congressional district. This is Congresswomen Schultz’s comment: “The gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this (Ryan) plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from South Florida.” I guess West has a big problem with the truth especially coming from a woman.
At a town hall meeting on April 11, 2012, Congressman West responded to a question about what percentage of the American legislature are card carrying Marxists or neo-Castro Socialists, by stating. “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.” Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said West is trying to turn back the clock to the days of Republican Senator Joe McCarthy and the so-called “Red Scare.” West is now trying to capitalize on his comments by asking his donors to send money for, “the fight for the heart and soul of our nation. It’s a fight we can win, but we must all be involved.”
Conservative Republican Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, was incensed over West’s comments making the following statement during his show on April 12th, “As the future leader of the Republican party, I am shocked and stunned and deeply saddened by this behavior. It is incorrigible and any Republican party — local, state or national — that contributes to Allen West’s reelection campaign before he apologizes for this statement will meet my wrath in the future.”
Last December during a House vote, Congressman West compared the Democratic Party to the Nazi party by saying, “If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine.” “But let’s be very honest,” he added. “You have the president, who has an incredible megaphone and a platform, and he has people all across this country believing that the only people on Capitol Hill are House Republicans. He’s not talking anything about his controlled Senate. So it’s a great propaganda machine. And I have to give him kudos for being able to leverage that.” Goebbels was Adolph Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945 and was known for openly exploiting “the lowest instincts of the German people” like racism, xenophobia, and economic insecurity to engender a zealous antisemitism.
West, of course, consistently blames reporters for, “taking my words and twisting it around.” “What I’m talking about is a person that was the minister of propaganda. And I’m talking about propaganda,” he said. “Once again, you guys will take whatever I say and you will spin it to try to demonize me or demagogue me.” West apparently believes that he is really the victim.
While I commend Congressman West for his outstanding military service having achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, serving in the Gulf War and in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, earning a Bronze Star and three Meritorious Service Medals. However, in my opinion, Congressman West is a poor excuse for a political leader. In addition to his frequent over-the-top comments and statements, he is a supporter of the Ryan 2012 budget that gives thousands of dollars to the rich while eliminating Medicare as we know it, he is critical of the “Americans with Disabilities Act,” and he wants to abolish Planned Parenthood. Not only will Congressman Allen West never become a vice presidential candidate in spite of Sarah Palin’s endorsement, I don’t believe that a sane Florida electorate will re-elect him to a second term, but that’s just my take.
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