The man who may well be the nastiest member of Congress begrudgingly conceded defeat this week, giving people who believe in civility and good government something to be thankful for on this holiday.
In his single term in the House, Rep. Alan West earned a reputation as one of the most divisive figures on Capitol Hill, and that's going a long way in this highly polarized environment.
His outrageous rhetoric and wild charges also helped make him very popular among Tea Partiers and militant conservatives. He was a prolific fundraiser and that enabled him to wage one of the costliest congressional races in the country, but it wasn't enough. Although West raised and spent over $17 million, more than four times as much as his opponent, he was narrowly defeated by Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida's 18th District, which happens to have a sizeable Jewish population.
West was the first black Republican elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction.
He spent 22 years in the Army and rose to lieutenant colonel and battalion commander during the Iraq war before being relieved of his command in 2003, fined $5,000 and allowed to retire after firing his weapon multiple times next to a detainee's head.
He apparently brought his hot temper into politics and made it his trademark.
He compared Democrats to Nazis, called a Jewish congresswoman "vile" and "despicable," and said President Obama is "probably the dumbest person walking around in America."
He also called Obama a "low-level Socialist agitator," said the President's supporters were a "threat to the gene pool" and told Democrats to "get the hell out of the United States."
I know I'll get angry mail from right wing Jews who admire his strident positions on Israel that that are so extreme they make Bibi Netanyahu look like a naïve dove, but this guy is a vile demagogue in the tradition of the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) and no matter how much he says he loves Israel, that does not redeem him.
Like his role model, West claimed to have uncovered "78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party who are members of the Communist Party." Who are they? Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. That charge led to him being possibly the first African-American congressman ever disinvited to speak at a NAACP event.
He even outed one closet commie who'd managed to escape detection for a century: President Woodrow Wilson. It's simple, according to the bloviated West: In the early 20th Century "American Communists renamed themselves as progressives. If you study the Woodrow Wilson administration, people referred to the Woodrow Wilson administration as a progressive administration."
Farewell soon-to-be-ex-Congressman West, and good riddance.
The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.