By Chez Pazienza: Rush Limbaugh is a pompous buffoon — we all know that. When he says something over-the-top, inflammatory and painfully divorced from reality, believe it or not I kind of accept it. I get that there’s an argument to be made that the damage he’s doing through the influence he wields over the Republican party bumper sticker sloganeers and their ostensible leaders makes him a dangerous, dangerous man. But there are plenty of times when I just can’t help thinking, “Really? This is the asshole we’re all so afraid of — this obese, impotent blowhard? This instantaneous-death heart attack waiting to happen? Fuck this guy.” I think this because while it’s true that his microphone has quite a bit of power, and it’s power that can’t really be voted out of office by a suddenly enlightened electorate, he doesn’t make policy in an official capacity. Again, he indirectly influences policy, but he doesn’t make it himself because in the end he’s just a dumb-shit shock jock.
Rep. Allen West, however, is a different story.
I’m not going to bother running down in detail the litany of thoroughly irresponsible and almost incomprehensibly insane things that have spilled out of West’s comic book character mouth since he arrived on the political scene via the Great and Ultimately Short-Lived Tea Party Uprising of 2010 and the shit-kicking dolts in Florida who championed it; we’d be here all day and honestly it’d just make my head hurt. Suffice it to say, almost every time West opens his pie hole, some unabashed gem of paranoia, barbarism, incivility and generally offensive backward-ass thinking makes itself known. It was understood pretty much from the beginning that West is the archetypal right-wing bully, a patriarchal tyrant who believes that he and he alone has been given dominion over the land by the Almighty and everyone else can basically kiss his ass. I imagine him being some unholy cross between Colonel Nathan Jessup, Jack Scagnetti in Natural Born Killers, and Rance Burgess, the sadistic, misogynistic, and ice cold true believing land baron on Firefly.
The short list: In just the past couple of years, West has intoned that guns may be necessary to stand against the liberal onslaught, that U.S. military leaders should refuse the orders of President Obama, that American news agencies should be censored, that Obama supporters are a threat to the gene pool, that progressive women are trying to “neuter” American men, and that Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz doesn’t know her place because she refused to show him the proper amount of respect and deference. Now you can add to all of that unmitigated horseshit — commies. Yes, commies.
Last week, at a town hall meeting in Florida, West was asked by one of his mouth-breathing constituents, “What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists?” Rather than answer with an entirely appropriate, “What the hell are you talking about? That’s crazy,” West of course immediately came back with — wait for it — “That’s a fair question.” He then proceeded to pull an actual number out of his ass, McCarthy style — an almost comically specific number. “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party,” he said. So, yeah — the commie infestation is upon us. Let’s throw one more character from pop culture into the “Who Does Allen West Remind You Of?” mix: General Jack D. Ripper, from Dr. Strangelove.
What I want to know is, why is someone not kicking Allen West’s ass all over the halls of the Capitol for saying something so irresponsible and outrageous? Have we really gotten to the point where eliminationist rhetoric is so expected from the Tea Party-worshiping lunatics on the right that calling members of the United States Congress communists barely even registers anymore? Is this how far it’s come? Or is it simply that West is such an ineffectual fringe element within the legislature — one who will likely face an uphill battle for reelection, even in a place as out-to-lunch as South Florida — that nobody really takes a thing he says seriously? At this point, incendiary nonsense out of the mouth of Allen West comes off more like performance art than anything — as if he’s constantly playing a game with himself, seeing if he can one-up his last batshit pronouncement.
Regardless, calling U.S. lawmakers card-carrying communists isn’t something that should go unanswered. Granted, neither is 97% of the crap West has said in the past — but at some point somebody in a position of authority has to decide that enough is enough. I’d love to see it be the voters, but until they get the opportunity to correct their mistake an official censure from the very body politic West claims to detest so powerfully would be nice. Ignoring his psychotic ramblings only goes so far. And it obviously hasn’t given him an once of pause.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.