"Knuckle Dragging Neanderthals."
There's nothing personally exciting about Rep. Alan Grayson (Fl-8). He has the charisma and charm of an engineer and is all too typical of the inarticulate congressman who puts his colleagues and C-SPAN viewers to sleep while shuffling poster boards.
So why is he the hottest Congressman on Capitol Hill these days?
Simply put: He's one of the few members of Congress who seems to be interested in doing his job. In the 8 or 9 months he's been in Congress, Grayson has taken on the chairman of the Federal Reserve and openly laughed at him. He's taken on bloated and corrupt CEO's that have received bailout money. His first few weeks in Congress, he'd taken on Rush Limbaugh. And late last month, Grayson took on the Republican Party by saying their health care plan consists of three words: Don't get sick. And if you do, their Plan B amounts to: Die quickly.
Grayson's outburst and subsequent "apology" the next day has made him the toast of the progressive/liberal blogosphere and he's become the superhero who's effortlessly supplanted Nancy Pelosi, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Boxer, the late Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold. Except that Grayson appears to be the real deal.
Grayson, a former litigator, made his chops by prosecuting Iraqi war contractors for fraud. His personal net worth of over $31 million makes him the 12th wealthiest member of Congress. Yet his vast personal wealth doesn't immunize him from the plight of the 47,000,000 uninsured. Yet, despite his speaking truth to power, all Wolf Blitzer was concerned with was to grill him in the Situation Room about his own so-called lack of civility and name-calling. Even liberal stalwart Rachel Maddow chose to concentrate on Grayson's use of the word "holocaust" instead of on Grayson citing a Harvard study that came out two and a half weeks ago and concluded that nearly 45,000 Americans die each year from lack of health care (or just about exactly 15 times the number of people who died on 9/11).
Calling Republicans names as a member of Congress will get us nowhere. Using inflammatory words such as "Holocaust" or paying homage to the late William Safire by repeating over and over on national TV the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativism" will also not further the health care debate. It doesn't matter how correct Grayson is. These tactics are lamentable and we've seen enough incivility from the right side of the aisle this year.
Yet who can blame Congressman Grayson? Sometimes, name-calling and using controversial and loaded words such as "holocaust" is what's needed to break the logjam that's been engineered by both Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats alike. What Alan Grayson did was an act of desperation because the Republican Party has made civility and a respectful exchange of views and facts unworkable. Alan Grayson had to become the good Joe Wilson, the desperate sheriff who had to fire his .45 into the air to break up the bar brawl in the saloon.
Is Alan Grayson special? No. He's bland and he's occasionally inarticulate. But he's become the latter-day Barbara Jordan, who as another freshman congressman took on the Nixon administration and stuck up for the Constitution. Alan Grayson is a man with a social conscience. He only looks special and makes for an unlikely hero because this is what Congress has reduced us, reduced itself to. One man stood up, cited facts and called an obstructionist party for what it is and stuck up for tens of millions of our poorest citizens. This is what Congress is supposed to do. Alan Grayson looks like a hero for merely doing his job.