New Op-Ed Argues West Is 'Master of Soundbites, But No Real Talk At CBC'

Posted: Sep 27, 2011 7:41 AM

I found this op-ed by an attendee of the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference to be a rather interesting. The author writes that she wished Rep. Allen West, when speaking at the event, had done more to talk about conservative principles.

"Thousands from all across the country gathered in the nation’s capital last weekend to discuss varying issues within the Black community and the only workshop led by the retired Lt. Colonel was a discussion on the past and future of African-Americans in the military. As West is the only conservative member of the CBC, I expected him to give me more. ..."

"With thousands of community leaders, elected officials, non-profit leaders, and Black voters in attendance, the ALC conference this past weekend would have been an ideal opportunity for Rep. West to lead a discussion on conservatism in the Black community. I would argue it would have been the most attended session. I certainly would have attended, if only to hear the answer to the question, what is the conservative agenda to address the needs of black communities?

"So far the legislation he has proposed and supported do not give any indication that conservatives have a comprehensive agenda that would address issues such as soaring unemployment, the increasing number of children living in poverty, substandard public education, disparities in health care and the plague of gun violence in communities across the country. ... "

Now, my guess is West would have been only to happy to engage in a lengthy discussion of conservative principles, though I doubt his CBC colleagues would have been very happy. I think the author's idea is a fantastic one. But it's clear from the last sentence in the quoted paragraph that the author really hasn't been listening already to what West says, or what conservatives are saying. The Republicans have been talking about little else than jobs. West had a bill that would give tax credits to help the unemployed (found just through a simple Google search). He also talks about the destruction of the family at that same CBC convention.

"I am willing to listen to Rep. West sales pitch but so far he has only offered colorful sound bites made for television. While he missed one opportunity this weekend, I certainly hope he accepts the challenge to engage in a public dialogue on what he describes as “constitutional conservatism."

Was this a case of negligence by West or by the listener? I would argue, in fact, that the author hasn't looked hard enough. Here's an op-ed from West (also easily found by Google) on conservative principles and health care. Yes, it's true that you've probably heard more West soundbites than from his peers, but I would argue that's because he is able to articulate the position in a TV format. The soundbite queen happens to be his nemesis, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

By all means, continue the discussion. Talk more about conservative principles. Please host a conservative principles forum at the CBC evemt. But the accusation of West merely speaking in soundbites doesn't add up.