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Beltway Bickersons: West and Wasserman Schultz

If Rep. Allen West, R-You Talkin' To Me?, has anger management issues over a relatively benign piece of rhetorical political boilerplate, imagine the bursting gaskets if a waiter were to bring him Coke instead of Pepsi. Not pretty.

Over the past few days, the apprentice Florida congressman, along with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-What?, have managed to become the Bickersons of the Beltway.

The Alec Baldwin-Kim Basinger divorce was something out of The Love Boat compared to how these two elected representatives of the people have been getting along.

It began when Wasserman Schultz took to the floor of the House to oppose a tea party-flavored bill on the debt ceiling that has as much chance of becoming law as creating "Hug an Illegal Immigrant Day." She criticized West (though not by name) by suggesting he wanted to make life more difficult for constituents who rely on Medicare benefits.


If you are a C-SPAN junkie, you know that the tone and tenor of Wasserman Schultz's slight jab at West was the political equivalent of delivering a gentle raspberry in his general direction. This did not quite rise to the level of Joseph Welch's famous riposte, asking the certifiably insane, phony-commie-witch-hunting bully Sen. Joe McCarthy: "Have you no decency, sir?"

Still, even though Wasserman Schultz had delivered at worst a verbal noogie toward her Florida colleague, West got all Joan Crawford over what he perceived to be an egregious insult. (Memo to self: Never invite Allen West to play golf with my chop-busting brothers. He wouldn't make it off the first tee.)

Now in full Col. Kurtz mode, West lashed out toward Wasserman Schultz, calling her "the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the House of Representatives." All because Wasserman Schultz had the temerity to suggest West is just a little bit of a ditz.

West's unhinged Bruce Dern in The Cowboys reaction to Wasserman Schultz exposed a rather unfortunate ignorance about the legislative body where he serves and why it is often referred to as the "lower chamber."

Indeed, it's entirely possible the other 433 members of the House, upon first reading West's whiny tirade directed at Wasserman Schultz about vileness, cowardliness and despicability thought to themselves: "Hey, wait a minute! Is he talking about me?"

Before West, who has been a member of Congress for about 20 minutes, starts accusing Wasserman Schultz of being a vile, unprofessional poltroon with despicable tendencies simply because she suggested he is little more than a tea party stooge, he might want to take a closer look about the House chamber and soak in some of its more checkered history.

Did Wasserman Schultz's observations rise to the level of say, former Rep. Anthony Weiner's recent X-rated Twitter naughtiness?

Wasserman Schultz took a political potshot at a ripe target of opportunity. She didn't lavish herself in bribes like former California Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham. She was never associated with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was, as well as former Florida Rep. Tom Feeney. It was the august U.S. House of Representatives that found itself at the center of the Abscam scandal, where six members were convicted of taking bribes.

And let us not forget the banking kerfuffle of the early 1990s, when nearly 300 members routinely bounced checks from their House accounts and never worried too much about paying back the money.

Oh, almost forgot. Two words: Jim Traficant, a walking buffet line of corruption.

And we haven't even gotten around to the hanky-panky sex-related scandals — Wilbur Mills, Wayne Hays, Mark Foley, Newt Gingrich and Gary Condit.

If West and his fellow tea party crybabies want to think of Wasserman Schultz as some pinko, liberal, Kenyan socialist, new world order conspirator doing the bidding of Beijing, that's okay.

But given the House's long history of pocket-stuffing, demagoguery, philandering and pandering to any special interest group with a mailing list and a checkbook, Wasserman Schultz still comes off as Anne of Avonlea — albeit with a bit of a mouth.

If Allen West is going to get his bloomers in a wad whenever a critical political opponent suggests his approach to Medicare is drawn right out of Soylent Green, by the time his first term ends he will find himself foaming at the mouth while curled into a fetal position.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz was engaging in a time-honored gesture of heated political discourse. That hardly makes her the vilest member of the House.

Have you no decency, sir? Or sense of humor?

Beltway Bickersons: West and Wasserman Schultz 07/21/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 21, 2011 4:58pm]
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