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Tilting at Windmills

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January 2, 2011

WEST FINDS THE STRANGEST THINGS TO COMPLAIN ABOUT.... With the new Congress poised to get started, there's plenty of media attention being focused on some of the more provocative new members. For example, Rep.-elect Allen West (R-Fla.), well positioned to be one of the House's most ridiculous members, is the featured interview today in the New York Times' Sunday magazine.

The NYT's Deborah Solomon asked West about President Obama's relationship with the military. The right-wing Republican, a scandal-plagued Army veteran, replied, "I don't know, you gotta ask guys in the military, but I will tell you this: I think that going in in the middle of the night doesn't show leadership."

It led to this exchange:

Solomon: Are you referring to that recent three-hour trip to a base in Afghanistan? He needs to consider his own safety, doesn't he?

West: Leaders lead by example, and if I'm asking my young men and women to go out there and put their lives on the line, I should be willing and able to do the exact same thing. As I told my soldiers when I was commander in Iraq in 2003, the most expendable person in our battalion was me.

Solomon: Didn't George W. Bush go in for a surprise visit to Iraq under similar circumstances? Remember the platter-of-turkey photo op on Thanksgiving Day?

West: I'm not saying that's right, either. I'm saying that my understanding of leadership is a little bit different. Leadership is about being a servant first.

As a substantive matter, this is incoherent. West is effectively suggesting the commander in chief in a time of two wars is "expendable" and should therefore take unnecessary risks in order to "show leadership." None of this makes a lick of sense.

But I'm also fascinated by what unhinged conservatives can come up with when it comes to whining about the president. I've seen the right launch some pretty odd salvos at President Obama over the last two years -- remember when they were apoplectic for a week because Obama urged kids to work hard in school? -- but this is a new one.

West isn't complaining that the president visited U.S. troops in Afghanistan; he's complaining about the time of day the president's plane landed.

The level of Republican silliness continues to reach new depths.

Steve Benen 11:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Posted by: Charles on January 2, 2011 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

OMG, this is the best: "Leadership is about being a servant first."

Posted by: Duh on January 2, 2011 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK
West is effectively suggesting the commander in chief in a time of two wars is "expendable" and should therefore take unnecessary risks in order to "show leadership."

I wonder if this seems like a good idea to him now that (well, in a few more days) John Boehner and not Nancy Pelosi is two heartbeats away from the presidency.

But I'm also fascinated by what unhinged conservatives can come up with when it comes to whining about the president.

Didn't they complain when he left the White House at like 2:00 in the morning to be present at Dover AFB when soldiers' remains were returned home?

Remember [Bush's] platter-of-turkey photo op on Thanksgiving Day?

"Serving" the troops a fake turkey doesn't show leadership either.

Posted by: navamske on January 2, 2011 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

As many people have observed, it's not about the content, or the facts, or the logic, or the consistency, or anything related to thought.

It's about emotion. It's about stoking the hatred, 24-7. Black Muslim Kenyan Illegal-Alien-Supporting Gay-Loving Black President with a Black Wife BAD.

Unfortunately, I don't think it does any good to point out the factual, logical, or cognitive flaws in Republican statements. The mouth-breathers won't hear, the country-clubbers know it's hot air, and the independents think it's all he-said-she-said.

Just call 'em clowns and fools, and leave it at that.

Posted by: bleh on January 2, 2011 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Expect A LOT of complaining. Remember when the Republicans had a lock on power during much of George W bush's adminstration...non-stop complaining. That's how they thrive, by complaining. they're nothing but a negative force.

Posted by: SaintZak on January 2, 2011 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

You gotta keep in mind that this guy "has a top secret clearance even higher than the president can get." He KNOWS things!!!!

Posted by: Larry McD on January 2, 2011 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

I think there'd be a point if Obama's extra security somehow put the other troops at risk. But it's not a zero-sum game. And I'd hope that all soldiers take whatever reasonable measures they can to protect their own lives. It's not like battalion commanders walk into hostile territory with targets painted on their chests to show their "leadership abilities."

Posted by: Jurgan on January 2, 2011 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that this lunatic and a convicted crook Governor can get elected in this state tells you all you need to know about the collective intelligence of the voting public. I have to live here and things are going to get Arizonified. One of the crook governor's proposals - give a power bill break to companies to encourage business and have the regular rate payers eat the increase. Pray for us - it's going to be a long 4 years

Posted by: John R on January 2, 2011 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

So does this mean, to show the President how it's done, Congressman West will show up in Afghanistan, his travel plans and schedule published well in advance, pick up a gun, and lead the troops into battle, on the hunt for Tailban?

Posted by: delNorte on January 2, 2011 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Might easily be wrong on this, but my take on that is that it's an evangelical-Christian dog-whistle.
The term -- and the concept of -- a "servant heart" apparently has a significant place in their worldview.
Just what that place is, and how it can be reconciled with the Publican worldview, which seems to me its most direct opposite, is just one of the many mysteries that we mortals must merely accept.

Posted by: smartalek on January 2, 2011 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Why was this imbecile afforded this high-profile interview after repeatedly engaging in disturbing behavior?

This gets back to the absurdly low standards republicans are held to in the media. There is virtually nothing they can do to lose credibility.

Posted by: Holmes on January 2, 2011 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, West is correct in the first case. He MUST have been the most expendable member of his unit, because there's nothing more dangerous than an irrational commander who will take foolish risks.

But that says nothing about what we would want the President to do.

Posted by: biggerbox on January 2, 2011 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Allen West - wasn't he the guy who used to play Batman? Oh no, that was Adam West.

Posted by: Speed on January 2, 2011 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

We more-or-less southern Floridians got pummeled by a vast West television ad blitz. Local media commentaries pointing out that he's a loon didn't make any impression. Even his cozy relationship with a local outlaw motorcycle gang didn't offend anyone. Apparently the public loved the way the bikers provided security.

He represents a wealthy beachfront constituency. One of his neighbors is congressman Alcee Hastings, whose constituency is poor. The current congressional districts in the area collectively look like a slice of bacon, with strips of white and red. A new Florida constitutional amendment (adopted via referendum) requires Congressional districts based on local political boundaries and compactness. Presumably, the bacon will turn into a tidy tilework.

But then again, Republicans will run the apportionment process.

Posted by: David Martin on January 2, 2011 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

of course west is right. wasn't it mckinley who led the troops up san juan hill? didn't black jack pershing follow wilson "over the top" at the battle of the marne? nixon flew the first missions of operation linebacker II in air force one (a little known fact: he personally led troops on the ground into cambodia). george h.w. bush himself spearhead the famous "hail mary" during desert storm. george w. parachuted alone into baghdad in the hours before iraq freedom began in a futile attempt to capture saddam hussein and prevent war from breaking out. "i'll be back for lunch," he told laura as he boarded the c-130 at andrews air force base. unfortunately, he didn't return until dinner. history will never forget his sacrifice.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on January 2, 2011 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Custer!

Posted by: Tigershark on January 2, 2011 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

But then again, Republicans will run the apportionment process.
Posted by: David Martin

to an extent, i blame ron klein for running a really bad campaign. i don't live in the 22nd but close enough to get bombarded with the west spots. klein's campaign gave voters little reason to vote for him, instead attacking west. on the other had, west ran a rather upbeat campaign that made him look quite reasonable right from the start. while the district tilts right in terms of registration, klein did unseat a fairly popular republican incumbent in 2006 and the district did go obama's way in 2008. klein is a smart, tough, energetic politician; if you had told me a year ago he was going to lose to the same guy he clobbered two years ago, i would have said you're crazy.

on the other hand, i do think the constitutional amendments eventually will end the days of bacon-strip districts. but the democrats in this state need to find some leadership and some quality candidates rather than the mush they've been putting on the statewide ballot for the past decade.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on January 2, 2011 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, who cares what this nitwit says or thinks.

Posted by: king buzzo on January 2, 2011 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

So the media is now going to put Allen West up against Obama all the time because they are both black? did the GOP make him the guy to book for these shows because they obviously aren't racist if they allow this guy to represent them?

Posted by: Alli on January 2, 2011 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

This is what happens when there is no test to qualify for a job position.

Posted by: roughdraft on January 2, 2011 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Every time I see Allen West in the news I think to myself: If the US were a nation of laws, and conducted its wars in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, Colonel West would have been tried for threatening a prisoner with execution, there would have been a public trial and at a minimum he'd have been cashiered with no retirement.

And if that had happened, the events at Abu Graibh would likely never have happened, because the colonels and generals involved in that national embarrassment would have known their pensions were forfeit.

Posted by: Wapiti on January 2, 2011 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

This guy just needs a hug (and then a bullet). Hire the (mentally) handicapped, they're fun to watch! Just what America needed, thank Flori-duh, another teatard..

Posted by: Trollop on January 2, 2011 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Based on the rights use of projection, I suggest someone take a hard look at his military history. Something tells me that he got into trouble for going in the middle of the night.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on January 2, 2011 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

It has been known for some time that Allen West is a crank. He may be a new member of Congress, but he will have no power.

I think I'll save my outrage for the members who can actually do some damage.

Posted by: Seould on January 2, 2011 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

As I told my soldiers when I was commander in Iraq in 2003, the most expendable person in our battalion was me. -- West, in an interview

So, West *is* able to tell the unvarnished truth once in a while? Who'd'a thunk?

Posted by: exlibra on January 2, 2011 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

This is what happens when there is no test to qualify for a job position.

Posted by: roughdraft on January 2, 2011 at 2:32 PM

I've been saying that for years. To stop these millionaire loons from simply buying their way into office there should not only be a test, but an entire process (thousands of times harder than the bar exam) that all Congressional candidates should have to pass, demonstrating not only a knowledge of civics but basic math and history. Then, for the final, sit them down in front of a PC running SimCity, and let them try out their harebrained "no taxes" schemes. Let the public view the exam in real time. When the "city," of course crashes and burns they're disqualified from ever running for public office again.

Posted by: electrolite on January 2, 2011 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Omg, quadruple security for 2 more years for president Obama and Biden. My god, John boneman b oner is next in line for president.For sure the right will spare no expense for assassins.They want boner in their quick.

Posted by: Michael on January 2, 2011 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

"The most expandable person in this unit is me"

What I you find yourself in a life or death situation with a unit where the leader doesn't have more experience and isn't looked up to more than the average fresh recruit, isn't that a problem?
And if military leaders are expendable and interchangable for fresh recruits does that mean military leadership experiance is worthless when considering suitability for political office?

Either military leaders are a special good thing or they are not.

Posted by: rt on January 2, 2011 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Leadership is about being a servant first."
I'm sorry, Mr. West: CHRISTIAN leadership is about being a servant first. Last time I checked, the office of President of the U.S.A. was not the position of Christian leadership. It's a secular position.

Let's see how often the Christian leadership of the GOP decides to be servants first, a***oles last.

Posted by: Padre Mickey on January 2, 2011 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

All you can say about West is ...THANK GOD he is now out of the military and his 'expendable service' will do least amount of damage where he now resides...All he can do now is waste tax payers money and government time at this stage of the game.

Posted by: H.Finn on January 2, 2011 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

"...thank Flori-duh, another teatard..."

Also...for the record this nit-wit is NOT from Florida. I do not know what we have done over the years to attract or deserve so many of this ilk to migrate here...they have RUINED my state (you should see what they have done to state government). This crap has been on going for the past 30+ years now...right-wing/libertarian infusion, it does not stop yet, they continue to migrate down.

Posted by: H.Finn on January 2, 2011 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to suggest that Obama drive himself to Afghanistan so the right won't then criticize him for putting a driver's safety on the line because he's showboating or whatever complaint they'd come up with for a bold daytime arrival.

He should also have a high yield explosive in the car so that he can blow himself to smithereens so no soldiers will be endangered recovering his body in case he's in danger of being captured.

Did I leave anything out?

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on January 2, 2011 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

The level of Republican silliness continues to reach new depths.

"Silly", and its derivatives should be reserved for things that are non-consequential. Not much could be more consequential than having a bunch of ignorant, violent, indecent republicans in positions of influence and power in the Federal and State governments of the US.

It is deadly serious that one of two major political parties in the US has been taken over by people that should be under professional psychological care for their extreme, incoherent, violent, indecent tendencies. "Silliness" is a wholly inappropriate term to be using in anyway regarding today's republicans and the republican party.
.

Posted by: pluege on January 2, 2011 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed Pluege, but republican depravity has sunk below proper usage of the words sane people would use in civilized decorum.All words have been used, and they revel in it. Silliness, most aptly fits in a conversation in which dangerous clowns wielding guns, are now cycling on bicycles trying to balance loaded pistols on their noses.

Posted by: Michael on January 2, 2011 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Yes, I did that, but let me tell you what happened. I went through what is called a nonjudicial punishment, where I was fined $5,000. I redeployed from Iraq, and I retired with full rank and benefits and an honorable discharge, and that’s the end of it."

That is to say, instead of go through a court-martial-which any innocent man would have done--he was allowed to resign quietly to spare the Army anymore unneeded obliquy.
Oh yes. If he'd been a sergeant he'd be at Leavenworth doing hard time, like Lyndie Englund. That's the end of it.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on January 3, 2011 at 6:04 AM | PERMALINK

To paraphrase Adler and Ross:

"What ever Obama does, he is wrong, resign yourself, recline yourself, we win."

Posted by: Marc on January 3, 2011 at 7:13 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe West should have kept his helmet on more often while he was deployed. I know Vietnam was a different time and a different war but the only time I spoke to our Marine battalion CO was on the battalion radio frequency while we were medevacing one of his buddies from the Korean War. Other then that I couldn't tell you what he looked like, but I assume he had his head on straighter then Representative West. Most of these Republicans never make any sense because they respond to questions with talking points, contradict themselves whenever they have to think on their feet, and vote like lemmings.

Posted by: max on January 3, 2011 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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