The Washington Post

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) gets the boot, too

If the defeat of Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) is sublime, then the political demise of Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is dynamite. Like Walsh, West was a bomb-throwing darling of the tea party. Like Walsh, I hope West will be exiting the Capitol — stage right.

The former Army lieutenant colonel and veteran of two Iraq wars and Afghanistan reveled in being provocative. He loved tweaking Democrats, African American Democrats and President Obama. After Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) criticized his support of a balanced budget measure last year, West issued a totally unhinged response.

Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up.

West also loved slave imagery. During an interview with Bill O’Reilly, he said the Democratic Party is a “21st-century plantation” for African Americans and its leaders are its “overseers.” And he had a grandiose view of himself as a black Republican. “I’m here as the modern-day Harriet Tubman to kind of lead people on the underground railroad away from that plantation into a sense of sensibility,” West told O’Reilly last year. And when he faced a primary challenge this year, West went after Obama. “He does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning and having that title of American,” West claimed. “He’d rather you be his slave.”

Such red-hot rhetoric played well with the right-wing fringe of the Republican Party, but it didn’t sit too well with the voters of his south Florida congressional district. West has been shown the door in favor of Patrick Murphy, a 29-year-old businessman. Next year, like Walsh, West will have the title of ex-congressman. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.


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