It started with a Palm Beach Post article
posted late Tuesday night that said Congressman Allen West stated that as many as 80 House Democrats are members of Communist Party "but wouldn't name names."
By Wednesday, there was video of the statement
, in which West very clearly says "I believe there are 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party." Political blogs all over the place picked up the story and featured in their usual "Oh, Allen" spot.
And, since all us dirty-hippie, lib-media reporters have the Communist Party on speed dial anyway, I called to check on that number.
"Totally untrue," said Communist Party USA co-chair Libero Della Piana. "I think that he was trying to get the same cachet that Joe McCarthy did. He's in for a sad awakening. It's a different time.
"I'm trying to show the absurdity of saying Democrats would be Communists because maybe they agree with some of the things we support," he said. "We support public parks and public education. I think the vast number of Republicans would support that. Does that make them Communists?... It's just silly."
Of course it's silly. With West, it's almost always silly. But this isn't like the time he called Obama a "low-level socialist agitator
." This isn't just adjectives. He made a statement of fact -- "There are 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party." And when someone says something stupid that can be verified as being stupid, they've got two options -- admit they're wrong or try to backtrack.
Unless you're Allen West. When you're Allen West, you double down and blame the liberals.
"A lot of buzz and inaccurate reporting in the press today about my comments last night in response to a question about Marxists and socialists in Congress, so I want to address it," he wrote on his campaign Facebook page
, before he went on to not address it at all.
"The press wants to write gotcha stories and talk semantics," he wrote, "but just look at the words and actions of the Progressive Caucus."
Ah, yes. Hey! Pay no attention to that stupid and obviously incorrect thing that I said! Look! Redistribution of wealth!
"I stand by the point of my comments," he wrote. "You can call them socialist, Marxist, communist or whatever you want, but they [sic] point is, they oppose free markets and individual economic freedom, they want to redistribute wealth, and they want to see the nation fundamentally transformed."
Well, you can't call them whatever you want, because words have definitions. But let's move on.
West then posted a link to a video described on YouTube as "the unedited video of Congressman West's remarks about socialist [sic] and marxists in Congress. Unfortunately the press is running with an edited video provide [sic] by a left-wing organization."
Oh, man. Did everybody get it wrong? Was it taken out of context? Does West's version of the video make him look better?
Of course not.
The video (embedded at the bottom of this post) starts with someone asking, "What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists or [something or other I can't understand] socialists?"
West could have said, "Well, let's talk about ideas and policy instead of pointless name-calling."
Instead, he said, "That's a good question." Cool.
He then said, without qualification or equivocation, "I believe there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party."
He then stands there and stares at nothing for 26 seconds.
Maybe there was a conversation not picked up on the video; maybe he was just letting the grumbles die down before he said more stupid things. But then, it appears, somebody in the front of the room asks a question, to which West responds, "They actually don't hide. It's called the Congressional Progressive Caucus."
his out. After 26 seconds and a follow-up question
, he clarified his statement to make sure everyone knew he meant that all 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
are also members of the Communist Party. See? The media was lying. He didn't say that thing he totally said in the video he posted on his Facebook.
West has always been about rhetoric -- he's well-spoken and knows what buttons to push to get a crowd going. But he's a United States congressman flinging insults cribbed from right-wing messageboards -- shouldn't we expect better?