How Do We Expect Congress to Function With This Level of Toxicity?
Yesterday, Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) took to the floor of the House of Representatives and criticized the Republican’s so-called “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill, including policies supported by Rep. Allen West (R-Florida) that would reduce Medicare benefits. In response, Rep. West (yes, the same Allen West who narrowly averted a court-martial for firing a pistol next to the head of an Iraqi policeman that West was interrogating*) sent a letter to Rep. Wasserman Schultz and to the Republican leadership in the House. Here is what Rep. West wrote:
Subject: Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman-Schultz
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. Focus on your own congressional district!
I am bringing your actions today to our Majority Leader and Majority Whip and from this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior......which dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign hqs, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.
You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!
Steadfast and Loyal
Congressman Allen B West (R-FL)
So what sort of horrendous statement did Rep. Wasserman Schultz make to be labeled “vile, unprofessional, and despicable”, to be told to “shut the heck up”, and informed that she is “not a Lady”?
Seriously? That’s it? That is the speech that caused Rep. West to let lose with a missive calling Rep. Wasserman Schultz “vile, unprofessional, and despicable” and for which he deems her to be “not a Lady” (and she even called him a gentleman)? Wow. In case you missed the part that really got Rep. West angry, go back to the :37 mark (my transcript, emphasis added):
President Obama has vowed to veto this bill which ends the Medicare guaranty and — incredulously the Gentleman from Florida who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries as do I is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a Member from South Florida.
In response to Rep. West’s attack, Rep. Wasserman Schultz’ spokesperson released the following statement:
I don't think that Congressman West is upset at the Congresswoman, but rather with the fact that she highlighted that he and other Republicans are once again trying to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, children and the middle class. As someone who lives in Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz's Congressional district, Congressman West knows that we have hundreds of thousands of seniors in South Florida who have paid into Medicare throughout their lives and now rely on this program to keep them healthy and active. The truth hurts.
By the way, did you note that interesting little point in Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s response? Many people don’t realize that a member of Congress need not actually reside in the Congressional district that they are elected to represent. Rep. West does not live in the district he represents; rather, he lives in Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s district! With that in mind, re-read this part of Rep. West’s letter: “Focus on your own congressional district!” Hmm. It would appear that Rep. Wasserman Schultz was, indeed, focusing on her district and the policies supported by one of her outspoken constituents.
Oh, and if you’re curious about Rep. West’s reference to a protest outside his campaign office in 2010, you can learn more about it from the Sun Sentinal’s Broward Politics page.
*West was fined and relieved of command.