Thursday, Allen West appeared on Glenn Beck for a chat with Judge Andrew Napolitano -- a true libertarian and genuinely good guy, who nowadays earns his keep as Fox's answer to Harvey Fierstein and/or Bee Arthur. The subject under discussion? The government shutdown that may occur should Congress be unable to agree with itself about a budget. And guess what? Allen West is all for it!
No. Actually, he's not. Though that's how the conversation was spun by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which decided that West was madly in love with the idea of a government shutdown and didn't give a hoot about the possible loss of social security benefits/Medicare benefits/foreign aid such a shutdown could entail.
You can watch the conversation above or just read the relevant bits below.
After a brief discussion of NPR (in which both Napolitano and West revealed that they have no idea what noncommercial radio is for), Napolitano asked West what he thought about the possibility of another "continuing resolution" -- what Napolitano called "a fancy phrase for 'you can fund the government for another two weeks but no longer.' " West replied: "Well, I think one of the things we have to do is stand firm." Then West elucidated some of his ideas about redundant and/or pointless government spending, which was itself a redundant and/or pointless digression, since we all know what Republicans think of NPR and the National Endowment for the Arts. Napolitano and West were then joined by Rep. Connie Mack (R-Florida), who was typically boring.
Napolitano, switching back to the MIC (More Interesting Congressman), said:
Congressman West, is it time for the government to be shut down if the White House and Congress can't agree, in order to force the president's hand and compel him to do what we hired him to do, which is run the government within the confines of the Constitution and only with money he collects from taxes and other fees?Note -- even a straight "yes" to this question wouldn't be especially revealing, since only a grammarian could tell if that "yes" was an assent to "government shutdown," "forcing the president's hand," "compelling him to do what 'we' hired him to do," or to the notion that the president's job description is limited to "running the government within the confines of the Constitution only with money collected from taxes and fees." What West said was:
Well you're absolutely right, Judge. What we have to look at is, the president is the chief executive officer of this corporation called the United States of America. Look -- he told the vice president that he'd be a part of this budget process, but now the vice president has left the country. So I don't think you see any seriousness coming out of the White House. The bottom line is this: We have a situation that we have to deal with. And I think the American people, if we continue down the road of subsequent two week CRs, I think there's just more uncertainty, unpredictability that we're creating out there. And when we have that uncertainty, then we're also creating a lack of trust and confidence in who we are, what we were sent here to be. You know, I spent 22 years being a leader in the United States Army. And that's what I'm up here to do -- to show my leadership.
Now, nothing about that statement screams "I want to cheat seniors out of their social security benefits." Nor does Rep. Col. West seem to be relishing the thought of government shutdown. Rather, the statement seems like a pretty average reflection of Rep. Col. West's martial approach to politics generally: Threaten government shutdown to force the Congress to get its shit together.
But that's not how the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took it. Yesterday, it released a long, mock-outraged statement that you may read here. I'm not going to repost it; like most cynical propaganda, it's boring. The DCCC knows West doesn't want to shut down the government. It also knows he probably couldn't if he tried. This is just a silly attempt to score points.
It's tragic, really. Allen West has given DCCC much, much better ammunition than this tame interview.