Conservatives are to be commended when they repudiate members of their movement found to be racist, extremist or otherwise crazy. National Review has severed ties with John Derbyshire and Rob Weissberg for public displays of antipathy to black people, a decision in the best tradition of founder William F. Buckley, who in his early days disowned the John Birch Society. When are House Republicans going to show similar courage?
Their problem is Florida Rep. Allen West, who claimed that some 80 House Democrats are members of the Communist Party. And as you can see from the video, he wasn't making a joke.
This is not a bizarre aberration. It's perfectly in keeping with the sort of things West has said in the past. He told Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to "get the hell out of the United States of America." When Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz dared to take issue with him, he wrote her a furious letter calling her"the most vile, unprofessional and despicable" House member.
He said President Obama exhibited "third-world dictator-like arrogance." When a video came out of Marines urinating on Afghan corpses, he said, "Unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth."
He's an embarrassment to the party. Republican House members of Congress and party officials can either condemn West and expel him from the GOP caucus or else confirm that his views are perfectly acceptable. They might ask themselves: What would Buckley do?