Sign up for email alerts, from breaking news to weekly commentary:
The Mad Hatter of the GOP's tea party
Just when you think the tea party Republican majority in the U.S. House couldn't possibly get any screwier, up jumps Rep. Allen West.
Once hailed as a tea party "star," the Florida Republican apparently has been spending way too much time down the rabbit hole with the Mad Hatter, the Door Mouse, the March Hare, and the other wacky members of the Alice In Wonderland tea party. How else to explain his latest eruption of right-wing Jabberwocky accusing a large group of his congressional colleagues of being communists? This blast from the GOP's McCarthyite past came from West when he was asked at a town hall meetnig about the number of "card-carrying Marxists" in Congress. Joe McCarthy would've been proud of West, who puffed himself up and declared: "I believe there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party."
As the audience broke out in murmurs of disbelief that such babbling nonsense was coming from their own congress critter, he doubled down on this dastardly accusation by pointing to a legitimate group that he says is a nest of commies: "They actually don't hide it," he blurted. "It's called the Congressional Progressive Caucus."
But wait – I know that group, I know nearly all of its members. They're good, solid, red-blooded, salt-of-the-Earth, American populists – not communists! As an aide to proud progressive caucus member Chellie Pingree of Maine put it: "Chellie is a Democrat, a farmer, and a Lutheran, but no, she is not a Communist.
When Woody Guthrie was smeared with the same baloney in the real McCarthy era, he explained that he wasn't a commie, "but I have been in the red most of my life." Some worry that Allen West is a dangerous reincarnation of old Joe McCarthy – but he's way too much of a screwball to be dangerous. The best thing to do would be to ridicle him – but he seems to be doing that on his own.
"Allen West Releases His Own Video Of Communist Accusations," www.huffingtonpost.com, April 12, 2012.
"Allen West: I've 'Heard' 80 House Democrats Are Communists Party Members," www.huffingtonpost.com, April 12, 2012.
"Communist Party Slams West," www.politico.com, April 11, 2012.