|He's slightly better when reading directly from source material.|
Earlier this month, Congressman Allen West said he was "not into name-calling
, all that kind of stuff." On Saturday, he said Democratic leadership should "get the hell out of the United States of America." Those comments, at the Palm Beach County GOP's Lincoln Day dinner, got plenty of play
on Twitter and the blogs, but it seems the rest of West's 11-minute speech was largely ignored.
West attempted allusions to numerous historical figures and documents in his talk; in almost every case, something got messed up, including a line culled from what is probably Abraham Lincoln's most famous speech. We'll just go through point by point and try to translate as we go along.
1: The Democrat Party
West started the speech declaring himself "the number-one target of the Democrat Party of the United States of America." He said he wore this title as a "badge of honor" and said an innocent first-term legislator like him was being targeted because "you're looking at the embodiment of what Abraham Lincoln talked about... was freedom."
Silly observation about the actual name of the party aside, West is right that he's a Democratic focus going into 2012 -- he's on the list of districts targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue"
campaign, but there's no indication he's the "number-one" anything.
2: Thomas Jefferson
West went on to say that "the history of the Democrat Party is all about slavery, succession, segregation, and today it's about socialism."
It's a pretty good quip, but it would take much too long to go down the list of racially based injustices supported by conservatives. It was just amusing that West criticized the history of the party of Jefferson only 51 seconds before briefly quoting -- you guessed it -- Thomas Jefferson.
3: A French guy
He then quoted 19th-century Parisian political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville: "The great American republic will cease to exist when Congress realizes that they can bribe the public with the public's money." It's a powerful sentiment and popular Republican quote, but Tocqueville didn't say it
, and nobody really knows who did.
4: An English guy
|Thomas Paine wrote thousands of words on democracy; West agrees with about 15 of them.|
"These are the times that try men's souls," West said. "Now, will you be a summer soldier? Will you be a sunshine patriot? Will you shirk away from the duties and responsibilities that our forefathers and mothers laid down for us?"
While Paine certainly played a crucial role in the founding of the United States, West probably wouldn't be down with a lot of the "duties and responsibilities" Paine actually believed in -- inheritance and estate taxes
, for example, plus an early concept of what Americans would adopt into Social Security
. Combine that with support of a progressive tax code and Paine's mocking of Christianity as "a parody on the worship of the sun
" and you don't come out with somebody who sounds like a loyal Republican.
It's cool to quote the founding fathers, Col. West, but you should really look into which ones you contradict in every way deeper than quotes that sound like they were pulled from the Patriot.