Politics is a chess game.
Having a winning campaign strategy means not just planning your next move, but anticipating what your opponent's moves will be in response. The more accurately you can predict - or, better yet, influence - your opponent's actions, the more likely you are to win.
I don't know if Allen West plays chess in real life, but he's running his reelection campaign like a Grandmaster.
You've probably seen West's recent TV ad, contrasting his record with that of his Democrat opponent, Patrick Murphy:
This ad made national news over the past few days, partly because of the powerful message of the ad itself, and partly because of the outraged howls from the Murphy campaign.
Let's take a step back and analyze the genius strategy behind this ad, and any way Murphy could have reacted would just play right into the game that West wanted to play.
Murphy's arrest is a fact and a matter of public record, so he can't deny it. He can try the standard "youthful indiscretion" excuse, but that plays right into the message of the ad - at the exact same time Murphy was getting dragged out of a South Beach nightclub for being a drunken buffoon, West was preparing to lead soldiers into war. Claiming "youthful indiscretion" only proves West's point, that Murphy lacks the maturity and experience to be a good Congressman.
An adviser to Murphy's campaign, Eric Johnson, has been widely quoted as saying that West "was criminally charged by the military with assault and for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice and was subsequently kicked out of the military." The reality is that West was cleared of all charges and was honorably discharged, not "kicked out."
So, Murphy's big response attack makes him look dishonest. (Hint, hint, Mr. Murphy...making people think you're dishonest isn't really the best strategy for distracting them from thinking you're a drunken buffoon.)
The cherry on top is how Murphy's response reminded voters of West's military service, including the details of West's actions in Iraq when he fired his gun near a detainee's head, in order to scare him into providing information about an anticipated attack on U.S. troops.
Lately, we've seen daily headlines about new violence erupting in the Middle East, revelations about how warnings were ignored and security precautions were not taken, frightening details about how our embassies continue to be targeted, and so on. Add to this stressful mix the reports about how high the recidivism rate is among former Gitmo detainees, some of whom have been tied to the current violence.
Let's recap the past few weeks: Americans witnessed our embassies burning, our ambassador's body dragged through the street, our tax dollars spent to apologize for some silly YouTube video we didn't make, and our president groveling to the UN about not "slandering the prophet of Islam."
The world has been a completely insane and scary place lately...
...and Patrick Murphy just reminded everyone that when Allen West thought his troops' lives were at risk, he fired a gun past a detainee's head to get him to talk.
Congrats, Mr. Murphy. You just reminded everyone that Allen West is Jack Freaking Bauer.
We know that Allen West is willing to "go through hell with a gasoline can" to protect his men. No one can say that about Patrick Murphy.
You can donate to Congressman Bauer, I mean West, at AllenWestForCongress.com.