Grayson Divides; Will He Conquer?

Grayson claims a Democrat can beat a Republican by campaigning like a Republican. . . . But I don’t think a Democrat can win if he sounds like a Republican…

Photo By Scott A. Miller

With Alan Grayson as our cover story, I suspect we’ll get some hate mail and probably a few subscription cancellations from irate readers—both his supporters and detractors.  

That’s the thing about the Democratic congressman: He can really stir up people, many less interested in what he’s done for Florida’s 8th District than in what he’s said about those who get him worked up, mainly Republicans. I don’t think the first-term representative helps his reputation with some voters by saying, as contributing writer Mark I. Pinsky reports in his in-depth profile on the lawmaker  (see page 40), that he doesn’t take any . . .  ah, oh, my! . . .  he didn’t really say that, did he?

Yes, he did, but I’m not about to repeat it here. My mother reads this column. But, I will say this: At least with Grayson we have a politician who leaves no doubt about where he stands on, well, everything. But to be honest, there have been times that I wished there was a direct link between his Harvard-educated brain and his made-for-YouTube mouth.

On the one hand, the hostile rhetoric he has hurled at Republicans has angered a lot of voters on the right; on the other, it has made him a national hero with the left. And it can be a problem for a polarizing figure like Grayson that elections are often decided by all those voters in the middle. Grayson would do well to position himself closer to the center as the November midterm vote nears.

I got the feeling he was trying to do just that with a DVD he sent to 100,000 Central Florida households. The 90-minute video was loaded with clips of Grayson striking populist poses, most notably his grilling of Federal Reserve officials and an AIG executive, as well as speaking against the Obama administration’s calls to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. Conspicuously absent from the DVD were Grayson’s infamous verbal assaults.

But the DVD may have hurt him more than it helped him with voters. Its $73,000 production and mailing cost was covered by taxpayers, meaning they paid for what easily could be viewed as campaign propaganda. Once again, he became embroiled in controversy, giving voters yet another negative thought about Grayson.

In Pinsky’s article, Grayson claims a Democrat can beat a Republican by campaigning like a Republican, a strategy that includes, as he sees it, negative campaigning and spending a lot of money. But I don’t think a Democrat can win if he sounds like a Republican—or, at least, like some Republicans. And that’s Grayson’s Achilles’ heel, which often gets stuck in his mouth.

I don’t see any difference between Grayson’s outrageous harangue that “Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick” and Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert’s idiotic comment that “this socialist health care… is going to absolutely kill senior citizens. They’ll put them on lists and force them to die early.”

That’s crazy talk on both sides of the aisle.

Grayson, Pinsky also revealed in his piece, likes to borrow a phrase from a Billy Joel song, saying he “just may be the lunatic you’re looking for” to serve in Congress. 

We’ll find out soon enough if voters are in the mood to keep this lunatic in Washington. He’d certainly have plenty of company.

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