As a rule, it's generally best to take Allen West about as seriously as one might take Sarah Palin. They both had fairly brief careers in elected office*; they're both foolish caricatures; and they both tend to say deliberately ridiculous things as part of a sad attempt at attention.
But once in a great while, West crosses a line of decency that's more difficult to ignore. Yesterday offered just such an example
Fox News contributor Allen West questioned the "loyalties" of decorated veteran and Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth for serving with her fellow Democrats on the Benghazi select committee. West attacked the recently announced Democratic members of the newly formed committee for dismissing the importance of Benghazi during an appearance on the May 21 broadcast of The Janet Mefferd Show. West remarked of Duckworth: "I just don't know where her loyalties lie. You know, for her to have been a veteran, a wounded warrior for the United States Army, she should know that this is not the right thing."
In this case, "the right thing" is serving on a select committee, created by House Republicans, to investigate the deadly 2012 attacks on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
Even by Allen West standards, this is incoherent. The right-wing Floridian wanted Congress to launch yet another investigation, but he thinks Duckworth is wrong to cooperate with the GOP-led probe?
More to the point, though, questioning Tammy Duckworth's "loyalties" is simply beyond the pale.
For those unfamiliar with the Illinois Democrat's background, consider her biography
In 2004, Duckworth was deployed to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard. She was one of the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom until her helicopter was hit by an RPG on November 12, 2004. Duckworth lost her legs and partial use of her right arm in the explosion and was awarded a Purple Heart for her combat injuries. Duckworth spent the next year recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. As one of the highest-ranking patients, she quickly became an advocate for her fellow Soldiers and testified before Congress about caring for our Veterans and wounded warriors.
Let's make this simple: if anyone has earned the right not to have their loyalties questioned, it's Tammy Duckworth.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who'll serve with Duckworth on the Republicans' latest committee, told msnbc's Andrea Mitchell yesterday that West "should be ashamed of himself
Of course, if West were still capable of shame, the Fox News contributor probably wouldn't make these offensive comments in the first place.
* Correction: While West served one two-year term in Congress, Palin served two years of a four-year term as governor before quitting. That said, she also served in local elected office in Wasilla. The larger point about her and West's ridiculousness stands.