Congresswoman Allegedly "Not A Lady"

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz criticized Florida Rep. Allen West's support for a budget plan that would cut Medicare. So he called her "vile, despicable" and "not a Lady."

According to The Hill, Wasserman Schultz told the House on Tuesday, "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." In response, West sent Wasserman Schultz and several other members of Congress an email titled, "Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman Schultz." The email read, in part,

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.

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He also wrote, "From this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior. You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!"

Unless we're missing something, this is the most bizarrely disproportionate response we've seen in a long time. It's also more than a little sexist — since when does criticizing a fellow politician's ideas make you "not a Lady?" Wasserman Schultz's office took the high road, however. Keeping the focus on the issues, her spokesman said, "I don't think that Congressman West is upset at the congresswoman, but rather with the fact that she highlighted that he and other Republicans are once again trying to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, children and the middle class."

Wasserman Schultz Brushes Off West Email [The Hill]
Allen West: Debbie Wasserman Schultz 'Vile', 'Not A Lady' [Huffington Post]

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DISCUSSION

While West's response is totally out of bounds and over the top, I think focusing on the bit about not being a lady is reaching. Simply, had he been addressing a male colleague, he would have said, "you are not a Gentleman." It wasn't her attacking his ideas that made her not a Lady but the manner in which she did it, after he left the floor and could not defend himself. I can kind of see his point. To attack someone when they can not defend themselves is not very honorable and therefore not very Gentlemanly or Ladylike.

However, I totally agree with Wasserman's basic point that her spokesman pointed out. And that West, being caught out and unawares lashed out and spewed vitriol. I just think he would have said the same thing to a male colleague.