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NewsReal Sunday: Preaching to the Ensemble, Alan Grayson Conducts the MSNBC Orchestra

October 11, 2009

Since his hateful comments on the floor of the House that the Republican health plan is, “Don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly,” freshman Representative Alan Grayson of Orlando has become MSNBC’s favorite demagogue.

Grayson is pretty delighted with himself, too.  Mistaking being on MSNBC for significant national television coverage, he has upped the ante with every speech on the floor, reveling in the guest shots it wins him on the liberal networks various gabfests.  Even he must know that this is, at best, preaching to the choir—but when you consider the tiny audience MSNPC attracts, it could more accurately be described as preaching to the ensemble.

This would seem an odd approach for a guy who just rode Obama’s coat tails into office in a district that has been Republican for 34 years.  Most Democrats in such districts are moderates who couch their statements and watch their voting records to keep from alienating independents or squishy Republicans.

Grayson, too radical to hide it, is taking the opposite approach—get the base so fired up and get his name ID so high, that it brings in campaign contributions and fends off an effective Republican challenge.  This would be such a misguided stretch as a strategy, that I can only think of one reasonable explanation—Alan Grayson is auditioning.  He wants Keith Olbermann’s $7 million a year gig for himself.

But while Grayson has made a major splash on MSNBC, it’s only a ripple in the rest of the media—and generally registers as disapproval.  He’s so over the top that mainstream media outlets even use him as an example that the overheated rhetoric is on “both sides.”  Brian Williams, for instance, reported, “There is something about this health care debate that makes some people say the most incendiary things…”

If there were an Alan Grayson (way) off-Broadway show, here are the blurbs that would be included on the poster as positive reviews from the MSNBC unison chorus.

Ed Schultz: You are the most aggressive progressive that is out there!

Chris Matthews: You are a Martin Luther!

Lawrence O’Donnell: “Mr. Grayson goes to Washington… simple but powerful language and unapologetic passion has galvanized much of the Democratic grass roots.”

Here are some of Grayson’s latest smug lyrics—

“I’m speaking for everyone in the country.”

“[Republicans] probably wish there was a Nobel Prize for fear… a Nobel Prize for hatred… a Nobel Prize for racism, then they would have won it.”

“The people on the other side are foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.”

On Why Obama Deserves the Nobel Prize: “We’re talking about 9 months of accomplishment to change the conversation that people in the world are having about each other.  That’s why he got the award.”

On What a Sage He Is: “When I said on the floor of the house that if he brought about world peace, they would attack him for hurting the defense industry, I didn’t know it was going to happen today. I am often proved right, but usually not this quickly.”

Wow!  Obama brought about world peace!  I missed that.

Those notorious partisan Republicans at Saturday Night Live weren’t buying this one:

And even Rachel Maddow could not buy into Grayson’s ego, and asked him some admirably tough questions:

Republicans demanded an apology for Grayson’s original over the top attack– and it was a bit much for the Floor of the House.  But once again the Republican minority led by John Boehner and company have missed their chance– by making a pretense of personal offense to give a tit for tat on Joe Wilson– that they look like whiny wimps, when there is other more important ground to defend.  So far only Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner has hit on one of the right angles to attack this from:

Hasner makes the point (which I also made here) that Grayson compared the American health care system to the Holocaust.  Some of the usual suspects of political correctness bristled at calling what Pol Pot did in Cambodia a holocaust, as though that term should only be used for what Hitler did to the Jews in Europe.  But they are curiously silent, here, when an actual trivialization is shouted on the Floor of the House.

It’s time to carry Grayson’s analogy to its logical conclusions.  Hanser makes his demand for an apology, not as a Republican who doesn’t like getting insulted, but as a Jew who points out comparing a health system that tries—even with its faults—to help people to the systematic and deliberate murder of 6 million Jews is hideous and cheapens history.

But hospital administrators should protest, too.  Are they the new concentration camp commandants in Grayson’s sick comparison?  Are doctors the new guards and nurses the new Judenrats?  At the very least, this must make people who work for health insurance companies “little Eichmanns.”

But the real way to cut the legs out from Grayson, the MSNBC glee club, the New York Times, and anyone else tempted to sing Grayson’s tune is to examine the study he cites that claims 45,000 Americans die every year because they don’t have health insurance.

Grayson repeats Harvard study Harvard study Harvard study.  But it was commissioned by Physicians for a National Health Program.  PNHP is a lonely group—an association of doctors committed to single payer socialized medicine.  It was not a study of American mortality rates nation-wide, (which would be available) but a statistical sample of 9,000 people, (like a poll) and an awful lot of self-reporting was used to make its conclusions.

At the very least, it’s dishonest for Grayson and his co-religionists in the faith that government can make you healthy to never say, a study put out by doctors who want a single payer health care system.

If Republicans can’t saw off the limb that this guy is screeching from the end of and make him a one-termer, then even they should be able to figure out they need new leadership, not just another reshuffling of the deck chairs on the Republican Titanic.

  1. Mike Wascher permalink
    October 11, 2009 8:23 pm

    I’m working from memory and I don’t have time to go chase down the official documents but the following could give some insight to Grayson’s motives.
    1) He financed most of his campaign out of pocket. He is a millionaire trial lawyer.
    2) As the article states he rode the coattails of Obama in a conservative district that was competitive only because of alleged misconduct by the former Republican Congressman, Ric Keller. (The allegations against Keller were later proven to be false)
    3) He is still in debt to the tune of a million dollars from that 2008 campaign
    4) Because of his makeup of his district he stands little chance to being re-elected, especially after holding town hall metings at a labor union meeting hall during the break, with half of the audience pre-admitted
    5) Conclusion: raise as much hell as possible, get as many campaign donations as possible, and end the next campaign, yes, out of office, but more importantly, out of debt.

  2. Julie Trevor permalink
    October 12, 2009 6:25 am

    The “study” cited (45,000 die from lack of health insurance) has some limitations (written by the authors) that Rep. Grayson and others would be wise to read before they hang their reputations on the headline.

    That said, the main reason people don’t have health insurance is they can’t afford the Government mandates placed on health insurers and providers in general; guaranteed issue and community rating specifically.

    I conclude after 30 years of working in health care with onerous regulations the outcomes for the chronic illnesses Gov mandates were effected to improve have actually worsened and cost dramatically more.

  3. David Forsmark permalink
    October 12, 2009 7:01 am

    Julie, excellent as usual. I made the same point about the cost of health care in my first post on Olbermann’s big health care treatise. When I sold health insurance 4783 government mandates ago, a family could buy coverage with pretty low deductibles for about $200 per month with maternity coverage, about $125 per month without it. Now, you’re not allowed to buy family coverage without it. You’re not allowed to take that risk, or not buy it even if it is physically impossible for you to need it. You MUST buy coverage that includes insanity like paying for marriage counselling etc.

    Mike, thanks for a great post. Republicans should be emphasizing Alan Grayson’s “retire my campaign debt” campaign. If there are polls that show him way down, they can really smack this around. Of course, it’s symptomatic that one of my readers gets this, and the House Republican leadership doesn’t…

  4. The Inquisitor permalink
    October 12, 2009 11:35 am

    “Don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly.”

    Grayson should watch FoxNews. He would know that we have had socialized medicine on indian reservations for years. The indians have a saying: Don’t get sick after June.

    Why? Because by July they run out of funds for the year and are unable to provide health care.


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