The Blog

The Second Battle
of Boca Raton

Will Lt. Col. Allen West win a south Florida congressional race rematch?

10:00 AM, Dec 16, 2009 • By JAMIE WEINSTEIN
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The 22nd district contains a large Jewish population, and in West these constituents will find a champion of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Indeed, West sees the survival and continued success of Israel as a harbinger of the survival and continued success of Western civilization.

"If we don't take a stand and honor what we did in 1947 with the creation of the State of Israel," West said, "it shows that we are not committed to the principles we believe in Western Civilization: the rule of law, individual rights and freedoms, the democratic state. We will let autocrats and theocrats overtake that country. And then we are next. Israel is the canary in the coalmine."

As for the Palestinians, West sees them as victims of their own leadership, in particular, and the Arab world, generally.

On the domestic front, West sees the Democratic agenda predicated on a liberal ideology that "needs victims" and for "people to be dependent upon them because that is how they stay in power." Speaking of his own experience growing up in inner city Atlanta, West draws a dichotomy between the conservative vision and the liberal vision for his life.

"The conservative sees me as a young man that if I keep my nose clean, if I stay disciplined, if I get an education, I have the equal opportunity as anyone else to rise and be great in this country," West said. "The liberal on the other side would come down and see me and say, 'Well, you know, you live in a pretty bad neighborhood.' It makes them feel better to see me as a victim. And it makes them feel better to come down and say we'll give you just enough to get by because, you know, we feel bad about you. They see it as equal achievement. They see it as needing affirmative action programs where you lower standards just so you can get it. That is not what I agree with."

It is through this prism that West views the current Democratic proposal on health care.

"It does not take 2,000 pages and it does not take the creation of almost 110 more government agencies to reform our health care system," West said. "It comes back to controlling you and your decision" which is "anathema" to "what this country is about."

What's West solution?

"We have to recommit to the foundational values that made this country great and it starts with the Constitution and understanding our Founding Fathers."

It doesn't take long to discover that West is not a huge fan of President Obama and his agenda. "I think that [President Obama] believes that the government is the end all and be all that can solve all issues and problems," West said. "And we know that in 233 years the public sector didn't build America, the private sector did. Individual Americans did."

As West begins his campaign to unseat Klein, he is getting the support of the national Republican party that he lacked in 2008. A recent press release by the National Republican Congressional Committee lists West as a candidate who is "on the radar."

"If he had the same money as Ron Klein, Allen would win by 20 points," Palm Beach County Republican Chairman Sid Dinerstein told me. "You wouldn't have to have an election.... If you meet him, you vote for him."

That said, Dinerstein still sees West as the underdog and his campaign's success tied, at least in part, to the political mood of the country next November.

"It is going to be a huge Republican year next year," Dinerstein proffered. "The only question is how huge?"

As my interview with West came to a close, I asked West if he wanted to respond to liberal MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann, who recently included West in his Worst Person in the World segment for an article he wrote on the Ft. Hood massacre.

West said his inclusion on the list means that he is "doing a great job."

"I am on their radar screen and they know I am a threat," he said.

After thinking about it a little longer, West added, "maybe one day Keith Olbermann and I will get to meet and I can ask him, you know, why he is such a sucky commentator."

No doubt conservatives would be lining up to watch such a colorful encounter. It would be all the more enthralling if this former Army warrior faced down the liberal MSNBC host from his position as a United States congressman.

Jamie Weinstein is columnist for The North Star National.