In case you missed the original story, which we ran in Headlines last night, here’s the background. Yesterday, after Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz delivered a benign-for-her-but-still-inaccurate floor speech (“boilerplate Democratic rhetoric about Republicans killing Grandma for Big Oil,” as The Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher put it), fellow Floridian Rep. Allen West sent her a scathing e-mail.
In the speech, Wasserman Schultz singled out West (although, in cowardly fashion, not by name and only after West left the floor) for his support of “Cut, Cap and Balance,” which Wasserman Schultz alleges would balance the budget on the backs of seniors. West boldly responded straight to Wasserman Schultz:
From: Z112 West, Allen
Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 04:48 PM
To: Wasserman Schultz, Debbie
Cc: McCarthy, Kevin; Blyth, Jonathan; Pelosi, Nancy; Cantor, Eric
Subject: Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman-Schultz
Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!
I am bringing your actions today to our Majority Leader and Majority Whip and from this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior……which dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign hqs, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.
You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!
Steadfast and Loyal
Congressman Allen B West (R-FL)
Today, Wasserman Schultz’ spokesman dismissed the e-mail as political bluster.
“I don’t think that Congressman West is upset at the Congresswoman, but rather with the fact that she highlighted that he and other Republicans are once again trying to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, children and the middle class,” Jonathan Beeton, spokesman for Wasserman Schultz, said in an email. …
“As someone who lives in Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz’s Congressional district, Congressman West knows that we have hundreds of thousands of seniors in South Florida who have paid into Medicare throughout their lives and now rely on this program to keep them healthy and active,” Beeton said. “The truth hurts.”
That’s a response that is admirably consistent with the Congresswoman’s original floor speech — but equally wrong. Go ahead and check it out: The “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill makes no changes to Social Security or Medicare. Most of the cuts in the bill come from discretionary spending, anyway, but the bill specifies that the $35 billion cuts to mandatory spending would come from non-veterans, non-Social Security, non-Medicare spending. It’s also evident that West is upset at Wasserman Schultz herself.
Beeton’s last statement is surely true, though. The truth does hurt, which is why it had to have stung Wasserman Schultz a little bit that West said she’s not a lady. Watching the original speech, West’s response might seem like an overreaction. But in light of Wasserman Schultz’ past comments and actions — from the protest mentioned in West’s e-mail to her flat-out false claims about the economy to her criticisms of the GOP as anti-woman to her outrageous accusation that Republicans want to “literally” send the country back to the Jim Crow era (an accusation so unbelievable that it doesn’t even deserve a defensive response) — it’s hard to disagree with West when he writes, “You have proven repeatedly you are not a Lady.” Frankly, it’s refreshing that West would revive the word. A little lady-like graciousness would be more than welcome in Washington.
The one-way nature of “civility” criticisms has been pointed out repeatedly. Fine for Democrats to be rude, but not OK for Republicans. At least West isn’t letting Wasserman Schultz off the hook — and, importantly, he took his complaints to Debbie Downer herself instead of bad-mouthing her behind her back.
As West’s spokeswoman Angela Sachitano puts it, “The House floor — a place preserved for policy debate and the utmost professionalism — is not the place for political cheap shots. It’s insulting to all Americans that Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz would use the House floor in such a manner. Congressman West contacted Congressman Wasserman-Schultz directly, as well as bipartisan House leadership to express his concern with her cowardly comments and the low level she has chosen to stoop to attack Congressman West. The constituents in Florida see Congressman West as a true leader and a man of principle while Congressman Wasserman-Schultz is once again viewed as politics as usual, and her true character sadly shown yesterday on the House floor.”
West’s honor and the truth about the legislation he supports are obviously important enough to him to defend even against the impertinent remarks of Obama’s “cute,” but increasingly not-credible DNC chairman — and that, to me, says something positive about West himself.