Wild, wild West

WILD, WILD WEST…. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), after only three months in office, is already a media favorite, making several Sunday morning show appearances, despite appearances that he’s one of Congress’ most ridiculous members.

At this point, West seems to have determined that the surest way to remain a media favorite is to say increasingly bizarre things. For example, the right-wing congressman told Laura Ingraham this week that President Obama is “a low-level socialist agitator,” who showed “third-world, dictator-like arrogance” during a speech on debt reduction.

This led Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren to invite West on to see if he’d repeat the rhetoric.

“I am sick and tired of this class warfare, this Marxist demagogic rhetoric that is coming from the President of the United States of America,” said West. “It is not helpful for this country, and it’s not gonna move the ball forward as far as rectifying the economic situation in our country. And I am not gonna back away from telling what the truth is.” […]

During his Fox appearance, West further stood by [what he told Ingraham], when Van Susteren asked whether those comments were helpful to advancing his convictions.

“There’s a great depth to my conviction, and part of my conviction is telling the truth,” said West. “I don’t think it’s very presidential when Barack Hussein Obama refers to my colleague, Paul Ryan, as a simple little accountant, either. So I think that when you look at what a community organizer is turning out to be, it does seem to be like a low-level socialist agitator.”

As a factual matter, West is a few fries short of a Happy Meal, if you know what I mean, but I found his little on-air tantrums interesting anyway.

For one thing, the president didn’t call Paul Ryan “a simple little accountant.” What Obama said is that Ryan is trying to be “America’s accountant and trying to be responsible.” It was intended as a compliment, which under the circumstances, is actually quite presidential.

For another, when West describes the president’s rather centrist speech on debt reduction — itself a conservative goal at this point — as “Marxist demagogic rhetoric,” I’m going to assume the congressman isn’t quite sharp enough to know what Marxism or demagoguery even are.

But in the larger context, what I find especially interesting are partisan standards. For two weeks, we’ve heard complaints that the president was being “uncivil” and “partisan” by criticizing a radical GOP budget plan and presenting a credible alternative. Sure, there are wildly different standards for a president as compared to a House rep, but are those who’ve whined about Obama being a big meanie aware of what Republicans are saying on national television?

I’m also reminded of former Rep. Alan Grayson (D), who represented a district not far from West’s in Florida. When Grayson, as a freshman, presented himself as a brash, unapologetic liberal, there was considerable hand-wringing over how the political world should deal with him. Allen West, meanwhile, is a right-wing crackpot, a fact that generally leads to a lot of shrugged shoulders.

Update: One more thing — West doesn’t understand “class warfare,” either.