Communists to Allen West: How dare you accuse us of having Democrats as members?

Even reds have standards, my friends.

No, I’m kidding. They’re indignant on behalf of the Democrats, not on behalf of themselves. Although … that’s kind of strange, no? You would think a commie’s reaction to congressmen being accused of communism would be, “What’s wrong with that?”, not “How dare you?”

“I just think it’s an absurd way to cast a shadow over his colleagues. It’s kind of a sad ploy,” Libero Della Piana, a vice-chairman of the national Communist Party, said of the Florida Republican’s charge that about 80 House Democrats were members of the radical party.

“It’s just guilt by association taken to an extreme,” he told POLITICO. He also said there are no members of Congress who are members of the Communist Party – not even avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Oh, wait — here’s a little “what’s wrong with that?” rhetoric after all in the course of accusing West of McCarthyism:

“We are supposed to live in a political democracy,” he said. “I didn’t know that being a Communist in Congress was off-limits or out of bounds. There aren’t any now and if there were in the future does that mean that the voters don’t have a say? Can’t choose a Communist to be in Congress?”

When I read about it this morning, I figured West was goofing on the House Progressive Caucus. According to his campaign manager in an interview with the Daily Caller, that’s exactly what happened. I think:

“I believe there are about 78 or 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party,” West said in response to a question at the event. After a dramatic pause, he added, “it’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

According to the Palm Beach Post, West merely made the allegation about party membership and then “wouldn’t name names” — something Edson said was also untrue.

“One stupid reporter with a local publication misquoted the entire thing, and they all jumped on one press account without verifying,” said Edson. ”It’s all typical west wing marching orders for their friends in the press.”

“Some people are going to quibble about semantics,” he added. “The real point is these people speak for themselves and if you listen to the words of the progressive caucus it’s clear that these people are opponents of capitalism — they oppose free markets, they oppose individual economic freedom — so you can call them whatever you want — whether they’re socialists or marxists or communists.”

Here’s the clip, which West’s office posted to debunk accusations of McCarthyism. I think it’s actually a half-debunk: It sounds like he’s not seriously accusing House progressives of being card-carrying capital-C Communists but is accusing them of being de facto lowercase-C communists in their policy preferences. (His campaign manager echoed that point to the Caller.) Here’s the CPC’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 in case you’re looking for a yardstick to measure. Plenty of statist bells and whistles in there — huge tax hikes and a health-care public option stand out — but they seem to accept, however grudgingly, the idea of billionaires in the private sector and they actually tout how much federal spending their budget would allegedly cut. How many communist regimes tolerate the idea of private citizens amassing huge amounts of wealth, even at a higher tax rate? (Oh, right.) But we needn’t overanalyze. He’s making a rhetorical point here that a statist is a statist is a statist, just as his campaign manager suggests. And he did it in a way that guarantees a day’s worth of media/left “McCarthyism” upset at a moment when Romney’s trying to get traction for his “war on women” offensive against The One. Probably safe to say he’s not on the VP shortlist now, if he ever was.