From a political junkie’s standpoint, we here in South Florida are treated to a deliciously abrasive congressional combination⎯adjoining districts represented by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a proud liberal and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and Rep. Allen West, the tea party champion who has been touted as Republican Vice-Presidential material.
The other day, the antipathy the two harbor toward each other exploded on the floor of the House, when Ms. Wasserman Schultz expressed her incredulity that Mr. West, a congressman from this senior-rich area, would pursue with such alacrity the cutting of entitlement programs upon which so many of his elderly constituents depend.
This is standard stuff in congressional debate. Mr. West’s response to Ms. Wasserman Schultz was not. In his retort, he swiftly descended to an ad hominem attack, using words like “vile,” “unprofessional,” “despicable,” “coward” and "no lady" to describe Ms. Wasserman Schultz personally.
It can only perplex observers that a retired Army colonel who served his country with valor in Iraq, who thought nothing of facing down armed fighters without flinching, and who carries a weapon for his own self-protection, can become so defensive when confronted with a verbal onslaught by a self-described Jewish mom from Plantation.
Maybe Mr. West felt that taking lip from a mouthy female was beneath the dignity of a United States Congressman, or maybe he determined that criticism of his policies amounted to insubordination in the ranks.
It’s up to Ms. Wasserman Schultz to decide whether she deserves an apology, but it would better serve the American people, the interests of the State of Florida, Mr. West’s constituents, and his own effectiveness as a politician if he restricted his comments to legitimate criticism of policies he disagrees with. He may not realize it, but Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s life experiences make her every bit as worthy of respect as his do him.