Florida Republican Congressman Allen West may be facing reelection in a newly drawn – albeit Republican-friendly – district, but it hasn’t slowed his use of loaded language to emphasize to voters, old and new, that he is not supportive of President Obama just because they both are black.
At a campaign event in West Palm Beach on Sunday, West told a mostly white audience that he opposed Obama’s policies because, “He does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning, and having that title of American. He’d rather you be his slave.”
It’s not the first time that West has used inflammatory language to make his point. He has called some of his Democratic colleagues in Congress “communist,” referred to himself as the modern day Harriet Tubman, leading black people away from the Democratic plantation and said when Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) wore a hoodie on the House floor to call attention to the Trayvon Martin case that Rush represented a security threat to Congress.
While it remains to be seen if this most recent episode will be an effective tactic in securing his reelection, what West clearly chooses to ignore is how his rhetoric inflames those looking for an excuse to hate Obama.
And it’s clear the Republican Party has no intention of reining in West.
"Two things, Allen West is one of the most dynamic new Republican stars in our party. That’s number one," GOP National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told Wolf Blitzer on CNN when pressed about West’s slave comment in West Palm Beach. "He’s got a bright future. But I’m more embarrassed about is the president that can’t keep a promise, that has an American economy that’s in the ditch that somehow is trying to perpetrate some myth to the American people that he’s not to blame for or has no role in where we are in the American economy."
So the spin is on.
West spews racist, inflammatory rhetoric and it is justified as being hardly worse than the job the president is doing with the economy.
How many more times will West get to tell white voters that Obama wants them to be his “slaves” and get away with a wink and a nod while Republican spokesmen simply say that perhaps West was a little over the top, but no matter because his underlying message was on point?
While some political pundits dismiss West as an entertaining, relatively harmless loose canon, it takes just a simple read of Letters to the Editor on blogs and on the websites of newspapers in south Florida to realize he has more credibility than might seem reasonable.
That’s something that may give Democrats and campaign strategists pause.