'Get The Hell Out Of The U.S.' Isn't So Different From What Establishment GOP Is Saying

January 30, 2012 11:30 am ET — Kate Conway

Rep. Allen West

Over the weekend, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) lit up the Internet with a caustic statement in which he proclaimed that top members of the Democratic leadership ought to "get the hell out of the United States of America." Although West's vitriolic phrasing spurred greater backlash, the substance of his comment is remarkably close to recent comments from more mainstream GOP figures.

Here's what West said, via the Huffington Post:

"We need to let President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, (audience boos) and my dear friend the chairman of the Democrat National Committee, we need to let them know that Florida ain't on the table," West said. "Take your message of equality of achievement, take your message of economic dependency, take your message of enslaving the entrepreneurial will and spirit of the American people somewhere else. You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America."

The message there is pretty clear: Democratic priorities, including, most likely, addressing rising income inequality as described in President Obama's State of the Union speech, are so antithetical to Allen West's vision of America that they have no place whatsoever in the American political landscape — not even as part of the discussion.

That is the essence of a statement from Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), a freshman, as well. Following the State of the Union address, he lashed out at President Obama for "attempting to divide Americans, pit one class of Americans against another." That strategy, he fumed, "is completely un-American."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) used the same language the morning before the president's speech: "Running on the politics of division and envy is — to me, it's almost un-American."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), for his part, didn't use the term "un-American," but his statement on the State of the Union did hint that the president's policy preferences would undermine "what makes our country so special":

To me, what makes our country so special is that no matter who you are, where you come from or what your background is, in America, if you work hard and play by the rules everyone has a fair shot at earning success.  That very American notion is being threatened by President Obama's desire for government controlled equality and sweeping changes that aim to put Washington in charge of determining your opportunity.

While the latter three statements lack the colorful energy of West's, at heart they mirror West's meaning: Whatever Democrats are after, it has no place in the United States. Whether specifying that the Democratic message belongs at the "bottom of the sea" or merely casting it as "un-American," it all looks like an attempt to marginalize a president whose opponents have long been desperate to cast him as an outsider in one way or another.