What Was He Thinking?!?

Published by Joyce Jones on Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm.

(Photo: David Silverman/Getty Images)

OMG. I’ve always suspected that Rep. Allen West (R-Florida), one of two African-American Republicans who joined the House this year, had a bit of a misogynist streak in him. He is, after all, a former military man of a certain age, and the product of a bygone, more chauvinistic era.

I, too, have been around long enough to recognize the symptoms and have gotten the side eye from him more than once after asserting a strong point of view. But that didn’t stop me from gasping when I learned of the vitriolic e-mail message that West sent to fellow Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee—and his representative in Congress.

In the message, which was a response to remarks Wasserman Schulz made on the House floor in reference to his support for a “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill that passed Tuesday night, which she said would hurt thousands of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in their districts, West called her vile, unprofessional and despicable,” “a coward,” “characterless,” and “not a Lady,” and demanded that she “shut the heck up.”

Maybe it’s the Army in him, but that’s sure not how we roll up on Capitol Hill, where a certain level of gentility still exists and lawmakers refer to each other as the gentleman or gentlewoman from wherever, as they denounce that member’s position on a certain issue.

I so would pay the cost of a pair of Prada pumps I’ve been eyeing to be a fly on the wall overhearing how the House’s Republican leaders reacted to West’s rampage. Because even if they share the Florida lawmaker’s views, no way would they ever in a million years express them in an on-the-record forum that you or I would ever hear about.

West’s overreaction also is a clear sign that ideology is far more important to Tea Party-backed members than actual governing and the compromise required to run a government successfully still eludes them. The legislation at the center of so much hate was nothing more than a bit of political theatre since it’s headed nowhere in the Senate and President Obama has pledged to veto it if by some miracle it actually reached his desk.  And, with a growing number of Americans starting to take Obama’s side on the debt ceiling debate, West’s behavior is a distraction the GOP could do without.

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