The video: Democrat Patrick Murphy is hitting back hard against a ferocious ad released last week by his opponent, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.). West's brutal ad spotlighted Murphy's 2003 arrest for a drunken bar fight, pointing out that it happened at a time when West, then a lieutenant colonel in the Army, was preparing to go to war. Now, Murphy is trying to turn West's war-hero cred against him by focusing on the incident that ended West's military career. According to a military review, West fired a gun next to an Iraqi policeman's head after having the man beaten. In the ad (watch it below), the announcer says West "was criminally charged with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice; found guilty of three counts of aggravated assault; and relieved of his command." West had to pay a fine but wasn't court-martialed, though the ad notes that if West had been court-martialed, he could have faced 11 years in prison. The commercial concludes: "Allen West: He just isn't who he says he is."
The reaction: "Patrick Murphy is a spoiled brat," says West campaign manager Tim Edson, "and a truly terrible person." Well then, says Rachel Weiner at The Washington Post. West's tight re-election battle was already "one of the nastiest in the country," and if this flare-up is any indication, it's going to get a whole lot nastier by the time election day finally arrives. Hey, Murphy had to do something to counter the "Call of Duty-esque premise" of the ad West used to portray him as a drunken kid, says Rosie Gray at BuzzFeed. And accusing West of being a borderline war criminal certainly "puts a dent in West's war hero reputation." Maybe, but it also might be "one punch too many" from Murphy, says Charles P. Pierce at Esquire. He could have simply used West's wacky rants about communists and women to paint the Tea Party firebrand as "a fool." Now "Congressman Crazeehead" gets to spend the rest of the campaign portraying himself as a war veteran being maligned by a kid who never put on a uniform. Judge for yourself: