Allen West Was Right

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 20 2011 1:20 PM

Allen West Was Right

This is being lost, to say the least, in the made-for-Jon-Stewart discussion of Allen West's angry e-mail about Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The speech that set off West was pretty banal, and included a reference to West, who had just spoken.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Incredulously, the gentleman from Florida, who represents thousand of Medicare beneficiares, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from south Florida.

Leaving aside the misuse of the word "incredulously," Wasserman Schultz had just referred to West, who had left the floor after speaking. (Like many freshmen, he'd cooled his heels for a long time waiting to speak.) Arguably, this violates the rules of debate.

A Member must stand while speaking and address the Chair in their remarks (Mister or Madam Speaker; Mister or Madam Chairman). They must also refrain from addressing other Members, the President, the gallery, or the television viewing audience.

Members slip up all the time, and typically just withdraw their remarks -- having put them for the world to see on C-Span and YouTube, in perpetuity. Typically, an offended member asks for the offending remarks to be struck. The difference this time was that West blew up at DWS, called her behavior un-ladylike, etc. Had he done that on floor he would have violated rules. But he did it over e-mail. All that does is create a mini-controversy, joined now by the man West defeated in 2010, Ron Klein.

In full disclosure, Mr. West and I ran against each other twice. The races that we ran were definitely rough and tumble. But I saw it then and I see it now - a person who can dish it out, but can't take it.

Klein spent much of 2010 making this argument, for all the good it did him.

UPDATE: The Rules Committee tells me this wasn't a violation of House decorum.

A member can reference another member in their remarks. They just have to direct their remarks to the chair. They cannot direct them to another member.

The question is whether DWS was "referencing" West or directing her remarks to him. West obviously thought the latter had just happened.

Meanwhile, this is the letter the DCCC has sent out.

“You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives... you are not a Lady.”
- Republican Congressman Allen West in an e-mail to
Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
David --

Last night, Republican Rep. Allen West sent a disgraceful e-mail outburst to one of our most accomplished colleagues in the House, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, telling her to “shut the heck up” for daring to challenge the GOP plan to gut Medicare and Social Security to pay for tax cuts for billionaires.

I wish I could say I was surprised.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the sort of partisan tantrum we're used to from House Republicans as they push our economy to the brink of disaster while pandering to their Tea Party base.

We can't let this shameful display go unanswered.

Contribute $3 or more right now to help us defeat disgraceful Republicans like Allen West in 2012. My Democratic colleagues are so appalled that they’ve agreed to match all gifts today dollar-for-dollar up to our $100,000 goal.

This kind of appalling behavior is all too familiar from Congressman West, who has riled up his extremist right-wing base by attacking progressive women for “neutering American men,” calling supporters of President Obama, “a threat to the gene pool” and writing for a misogynist magazine that denigrated women with words I'd be ashamed to even repeat.

And now that he’s in Congress, West thinks he can attack a respected legislator like Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz with this kind of hate-filled screed.

Allen West has shown us his true colors, now let’s show him ours.

Contribute right now to help throw Allen West and his Tea Party colleagues out in 2012.

Let’s make sure Republicans don’t forget this moment.

Rep. Steve Israel
DCCC Chairman

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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