The Dem stinger. And may there be many more.
Whatever Alan Grayson's drinking, I wish more Dems would order some. The neophyte Orlando congressman, who toppled a Republican incumbent in a safe G.O.P. seat last year, riding the Obama wave, is a former attorney representing employees blowing the whistle on Halliburton, KBR and other contractors raping the U.S. taxpayer by hundreds of millions of dollars. Of them, Grayson said in 2006: "The development fund of Iraq was looted by war profiteers and war whores."
Grayson himself, as they say in broadcast news, is a "media whore," never shy in accepting an invitation to appear on the small screen. The difference is that, unlike longtime Washington habitues like his euphemistic fellow media whores John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, Lindsay Graham or even the plainspoken John McCain, Grayson just takes off on the enemy. And if you're not a progessive, you're the enemy. Which is pretty much how Republicans have depicted Dems over the years, as spendthrift, traitorous, socialist morons. Newt Gingrich taught a generation of his fellows to be "bomb-throwers," and the supine Dems just took it. Over and over and over, under the mistaken impression that civil discourse wins arguments. Maybe at the Oxford Union, but not on Fox, CNN and MSNBC.
Grayson gets this.
Here he is on Dick Cheney, debaucher of the U.S. Constitution, architect of failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, now nervily accusing Obama of "dithering" on Afghanistan:
Well, my response is - and by the way, I have trouble listening to what he says sometimes, because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he's talking. But my response is this: He's just angry because the president doesn't shoot old men in the face. But by the way, when he was done speaking, did he just then turn into a bat and fly away?
Notice how Grayson doesn't address the question. Instead, he just demonizes the source - the M.O. taught to the G.O.P's Class of '94, cult followers of incoming House speaker-progagandist-serial adulterer Newt Gingrich.
The G.O.P. didn't have a plan for jump-starting the economy, not wanting to "bankrupt the next generation of Americans," as McCain put it. They were content instead to bankrupt the current one that's driven to penury by job loss and skyrocketing healthcare premiums and tuition costs. So only a handful of them voted for the Obama stimulus bill that has already saved about 1 million jobs and accounts for probably all of the GDP growth the U.S. just reported for the 3Q - the first positive GDP growth since the recession began in December 2007.
The G.O.P. doesn't have a healthcare plan, either, of course, though it insists it does. Its real plan, and this is hardly some kind of secret, is to obstruct Dem reforms that hold promise of solidifying Dem popularity for generations to come, as Social Security did.
So Grayson baldy labels the G.O.P.'s ultra-minimalist health care plan, which it knows amounts to no reform at all, as "Don't Get Sick" and "Die Quickly." What the G.O.P. obstructionists - which is pretty much all of them on the Hill perhaps even including occasional accommodations of a self-interested Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Me.) - are talking about by way of constructive alternatives to the Dem healthcare reforms is "amorphous nonsense," Grayson says. "Do you really think that tort reform is going to take care of 47 million people?" (The G.O.P. has a decades-long hate on for the plaintiff's bar; the 47 million is an understated estimate of uninsured Americans - the number has surely grown since the recession set in.)
Grayson's first indirect brush with fame came earlier this year, when his "Pay for Performance Act" to rein in execessive executive pay gained House passage. (It's now languishing in the Senate.) Shilling for Wall Street, "objective" Fox News host Neil Cavuto went kinda nuts about this proposed Bolshevism. But then, he was provoked, took the bait and went delightfully apeshit. Grayson had, after all, said of his bill that:
You should not get rich off public money, and you should not get rich off of abject failure...This bill will show which Republicans are so much on the take they're willing to actually bless compensation that has no bearing on performance and is excessive and unreasonable. We'll find out who are the people who understand that the public's money needs to be protected, and who are the people who simply want to suck up to their patrons on Wall Street.
Which, you have to guess, was the entire G.O.P. House caucus, since it resolutely condemned a bill and a sponsor reminiscent of the firey populism of William Jennings Bryan - commodities sadly in short supply in the hour of the Republic's urgent need.
The G.O.P.'s only real policy - to say "no" to everything - is for Grayson a denial of what happened last Nov. 4, when Dems took the White House and strengthened their majorities in both houses of Congress. That was, for progressives, sufficient mandate for the reform agenda of Obama and electorally successful Dems. The G.O.P. simply won't accept reality:
They've been dragging their feet. These - these are foot dragging, knuckle dragging Neanderthals who think they can dictate policy to America by being stubborn. And I think it's - the time is over. We had an election. That's it. Now we have to move ahead in just the way the president wants us to."
But Grayson's best shot at People's Choice award so far is his takedown of Rush Limbaugh.
Rush Limbaugh is a has-been hypocrite loser, who craves attention. His right-wing lunacy sounds like Mikhail Gorbachev, extolling the virtues of communism. Limbaugh actually was more lucid when he was a drug addict. If America ever did 1% of what he wanted us to do, then we'd all need pain killers.
Limbaugh famously said earlier this year, when asked for his advice to Obama, only that he wanted Obama's presidency to fail.
Michael Steele, the hilariously gaffe-prone head of the Republican National Committee, actually demanded Grayson apologize to the Hate Radio yakker, who has a $58-million (U.S.) contract to be himself and whose mistake with hillbilly heroin was to not simply buy an outfit that cranks out a generic Oxycontin. Steele was possibly thinking of those Republicans elected officials who earlier this year did dutifully apologize to Rush, one by spineless one, after daring disagree even mildly with some hateful or ignorant thing he'd spewed. Which is how Rush, an entertainer, has come to be regarded as the de facto head of a party with an obvious leadership vacuum.
Grayson was quite pleased to also apologize, after a fashion:
I'm sorry Limbaugh called for harsh sentences for drug addicts while he was a drug addict. I'm also sorry that he's bent on seeing America fail. And I'm sorry that Limbaugh is one sorry excuse for a human being.
Of the Republicans who joined Steele in demanding an apology, Grayson said, "They should apologize to America."
The leftish Rude Pundit ("Proudly Lowering the Level of Political Discourse"), noting that "Republicans have never known how to deal with it when someone fights backs back with the same brutality they use," exhorts the Dems to use Grayson "as their point person, sending him out to take a wrecking ball to the stick houses of arguments Republicans keep constructing."
I'd go further. I'd finance a remote training centre, like the one the CAW has operated for decades in Port Elgin to train organizers. U.S. Senator Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.). Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, House finance committee chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass), James (Serpenthead) Carville and Paul Begala. Dems need basic training, and a drillmaster with the passion of Patton. ("And we're going to keep kicking those Hun bastards in the ass until we've kicked them all they way back to Berlin.")
The Dems need more than one Grayson. They need a boot camp that turns out enough Graysons that almost every Dem talking head sought by broadcast bookers is a Grayson clone.
Profile of Alan Grayson, anti-war profiteer, in Vanity Fair in 2007.
Photo of Alan Grayson: Gasper Tringale.