WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican congressman from Florida turned to email on Tuesday to call a Democratic colleague from the state “vile, despicable and cowardly” after she called into question his stance on Medicare during the debate over a spending cap and balanced budget bill before the House.
Rep. Allen West, a first-term Republican from south Florida, wasn’t shy about his online outburst. He sent his peppery email to numerous lawmakers as well as his target, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
The subject line of the email: “Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman Schultz.”
The e-mail said: “Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up.”
July 19, 2011
And what did the virago say that triggered this spray of rabid slaver?
About West’s support of the Republicans’ “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan, she observed, “The gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from south Florida.”
And there we have it. This is what’s wrong with the extreme right wing of the Republican party: they are not leaders.
It’s hard to say what they are (at least, while remaining more or less polite). But leaders, they are not.
A personal attack in place of a reasoned argument on issues is what we call an ad hominem fallacy. It is a flaw in logical thinking. It is not leadership.
Unleashing language like “vile, despicable and cowardly” is the abusive behavior of a bully. It is not leadership.
Demanding that a person who disagrees with you, however blandly, sit down and shut up is hectoring and bullying. It is not leadership.
Have Americans become so inured to the loud-mouthed meanness that substitutes for discourse on national talk radio that we actually think this is discourse? It’s not.
It’s a lot of things. It’s rude. It’s stupid. It’s ignorant. It’s vile. It’s unprofessional. It’s despicable. It’s vicious. It’s shallow. But it’s not discourse.
It’s meanness. It’s bullying. It’s intimidation. But it’s not leadership.