On Monday I referred to the tendency of some on the right to call President Obama a communist. On Tuesday, Rep. Allen West expanded the field. He was asked at a town-hall event, "What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists . . . ?" West replied, as if reciting an accepted fact, "I believe there is [sic] about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party." After a long pause, during which he stood quietly, apparently expecting another question, he added that he referred to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group of liberal Democrats in the U.S. House.37
Given an opportunity to rescue the Congressman, his campaign manager doubled down: "He stands by the comments. Call them what you want; they’re clearly people who oppose capitalism and free markets and individual economic freedom. So, if the shot [sic] fits. . . ." Are they really communists? "We can quibble about the terminology used to describe them, but it’s clear. Whatever you call people that oppose capitalism and free markets and individual economic freedom — maybe it’s ‘socialist,’ maybe it’s ‘Communist’ — but that’s the point the congressman was making, and he stands by the words."38
His equation is similar to that on the "Commieblaster" web site: "PROGRESSIVES = SOCIALISTS = COMMUNISTS = LEFT-WING RADICALS = ANTI-CAPITALISTS = UNAMERICAN." 39 That site finds virtually everyone in the administration, including the President, to be a communist, and claims that George Soros, another communist, is Mr. Obama’s "boss." I suppose that one might take heart from the fact that all of this is so inane, but it rattles around the internet, so many others probably believe it.
Rep. West is known for foolish and offensive comments, but he must be running out of material if he must fall back on slurs of the 1950s.
37. West’s own video of the event is at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/12/ allen-west-communist-video_n_1420919.html. Senator Sanders, an Independent, also is a member of the CPC.
38. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/republican-rep-allen-west-suggests-many- congressional-democrats-are-communists/2012/04/11/gIQApbZiAT_blog.html