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From James Carter (via Steve Benen), here's Rep. Allen West (R-FL-very-very-nuts) explaining what he meant when he recently said that there were 80 or so "members of the Communist Party" in Congress. Or at least, he's trying to explain what he meant. I'm not sure you can watch this video and come to any conclusion other than that Allen West is either very stupid, very seriously unhinged, or just a rotten human being, pure and simple:

I don't have the willpower to transcribe that. Sorry. Short version: He "does not regret" that crap he said, doesn't know the damn difference between Woodrow Wilson and communism (because the communists renamed themselves progressives way back in 19-dickety-two, therefore all progressives are communists, and we all wore onions on our belts because that was the style at the time), and, oh, claims birth control is a plot to destroy religious institutions. He says this all in a calm, matter-of-fact style that makes you think that none of these wacky things is at all controversial, or misleading, or entirely batshit crazy.

Now, keep in mind that what he's defending here is his specific claim that there are secretly 70 or 80 members of the Communist Party in Congress. That's something you might want to, oh, walk back, lest people think you are a half-mad McCarthyite. But no, he stands by it, apparently because whether it's true or not isn't the point; the real point is how you damn reporters out there don't know your history and how pretty much everyone Allen West doesn't like is automatically a member of the Communist Party, from Woodrow Wilson on down the line.

I know some folks get frustrated when we talk about these nutcase members of the Republican caucus. I get that. But this guy is in Congress. This guy won an election. He may still win reelection—and his whole shtick is being pompously, self-righeously loony. There's no deep philosophy on how to govern a nation resting in that noggin, just a stream of unending suspicions against the "communists," historical malapropisms, and a general hatred for government doing, well, anything. We've elected a conspiracy theory to Congress.

Worse, he's not the only one. Not by a long shot.

I'm not sure whether America can do better at this point. I mean that sincerely; the combination of corporate money and uninformed elections (note that those two are far from unrelated) means that too many candidates can go too far without anyone ever seriously examining what the hell it is they might actually stand for. But I'm pretty sure the first step would be, well, to give it try. Politicians may loathe the new campaign reality of having people follow them around with video cameras, recording their every word, but it's probably the best information that voters can get. It at least gives you some insight into what the candidate says in off-the-cuff situations. That helps, even if it sometimes is as scary as hell to listen to them.

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Originally posted to Hunter on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 01:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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