The Most Insidious Thing Rep. Allen West Has Ever Heard

August 08, 2011 11:15 am ET — Alan Pyke

Rep. Allen West (R-FL) is a combat veteran notorious for firing a pistol near a detained Iraqi's head during an interrogation, and he never shies away from being portrayed as a swaggering soldier bent on kicking Washington politicians into line. Yet when it comes to the slings and arrows of political speech, West's skin is a lot thinner than you would expect given his outward persona.

West demonstrated that sensitivity again this morning on Fox & Friends, calling Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) charge that Tea Party brinksmanship caused S&P to downgrade the U.S. credit rating "absolutely the most insidious thing I've ever heard."

ALLEN WEST: I find those comments to be absolutely the most insidious thing I've ever heard. I think that what you continue to see from the left is looking for someone to blame. It's very simple. When we go back to 2007, when the Democrats took over the House and the Senate, the debt at that time was 8.6 trillion. Now today we see the debt at $14.5 trillion. They have to look at themselves and they have to understand that they are the ones that are totally to blame. It has nothing to do with increasing revenues by tax hikes. It has everything to do with cutting spending.


It's funny that West chose the word "insidious," given West's own prolific record of outrageous sound bites: The man once denounced liberal women's groups for "neutering American men," and he'll declare war on Islam when he thinks people aren't watching but takes a very different tack on television.

It stops being funny, though, when you read the S&P report and realize that Kerry's "Tea Party downgrade" label is an accurate reflection of their rationale. It's S&P, not Kerry, who wrote that the downgrade comes because of "the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling." It's S&P, not Kerry, who wrote that "The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy." And it was S&P, not Kerry, who revised their "base case scenario" expectations downward "because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues."

This downgrade was spawned in the brinksmanship of the default crisis, where hard-right Republicans refused any balanced deficit reduction package that included taxes on even the wealthiest Americans, despite overwhelming public opposition to their cuts-only fanaticism. That prolonged defiance of public opinion and economic experts to achieve an ideological victory is truly insidious.