Republican Rep. Allen West has been floated as a possible veep candidate - Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Nikki Haley have all said nice things - and just this week he said he would probably take the job if Mitt Romney asked. But West's remarks yesterday that he's "heard" about 80 Democratic lawmakers are Communist Party members are a stark reminder of why he's unlikely to get the nod.
There's no doubt he's a tea party favorite who might be able to light a fire under the conservative base. Problem is, his lips are just too loose for the national spotlight. Calling Democratic lawmakers communists smacks of McCarthyism and is the kind of boneheaded remark that makes him look unserious, which would distract from Romney's message. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee is nothing if not serious.
And this is not the first time West has said something inflammatory. West has said being gay is a choice similar to picking an ice cream flavor; he compared the Democratic Party to Goebbels' Nazi propaganda machine; he said Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, represented the "antithesis" of the principles America was founded on and called DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz "vile."
So, in his short public life, he's insulted gays, women and Muslims and managed to paint Democrats as both communists and Nazis (two ideologies that couldn't be more different). Ever unapologetic, West's rhetoric is not exactly the kind that attracts the independent voters Romney needs to win.
As a lieutenant colonel, he once shot a gun close to an Iraqi policeman's head during an interrogation. If the Army, which relieved him of his command, couldn't control West, there's little to suggest the Romney campaign could. West's comments would take the campaign off message and violate the primary role of a vice presidential candidate - first do no harm.
For an idea of how the Obama campaign might use West's comments if he were on the Romney ticket, you need to look no further than likely Democratic rival Patrick Murphy, who said, "Allen West is trying to make it in the press with comments that don't even make sense. He's trying to make headlines, get a rise out of people and not get anything done."
In short, he's arguing, Allen West is a joke.