Friday, October 02, 2009

Alan Grayson gets it right

The Republican Party and its media allies have gone into ecstasy over the comments of Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL). Finally, they think, there’s someone who’s going to distract from the sins of Joe Wilson (R-SC).

Not so fast.

Joe Wilson called the President of the United States a liar in front of some 40 million viewers, bringing the entire US Congress into disrepute. While Wilson ultimately apologised to the president, he flatly refused to apologise to the US House for his unprecedented breach of decorum. Republicans in the House then flatly refused to punish Wilson for his actions.

Grayson, on the other hand, attacked Republicans over their clear lack of a healthcare reform plan. In a speech on the floor of the house, to his colleagues, he said the Republican plan was 1. Don’t get sick and, 2. If you do get sick, die quickly. Republicans immediately demanded that the House discipline Grayson.

This should be bloody obvious, but the outburst of Joe Wilson and the speech by Alan Grayson have absolutely no equivalence. Wilson insulted the President of the United States, called him a liar, no less, and brought the entire Congress into disrepute. Grayson merely insulted the opposition party in a speech. No Democrat ever yelled out “you lie” at George Bush, but for months Republicans in the House have been saying about the Democratic plan the exact same thing that Grayson said: They said Democrats either want people to die or that they’ll kill Americans.

So, this is yet another case where if Republicans do it, it’s okay, but if Democrats do it, it’s wrong and awful and sinful and must be fully punished.

The larger question, really, is whether doing the same thing as the Republicans, using the same sort of rhetoric, is useful. I think it is because it just may shock some people into seeing the game that Republicans are playing.

The Republican Party has spent months lying about what’s in the Democrats’ plan, while offering absolutely no alternative. Now, they’re using every trick they can think of to slow down the process—like a shoe thrown into the machines—in order to stop healthcare reform. They are insisting there must be a super-majority to pass any healthcare reform, even though when they were in power they frequently used simply majorities to push through their agenda.

And yet, despite all that, I do think Grayson went too far in using the word “holocaust” in his non-apology. That word ought to be reserved only for talking about THE Holocaust. Beyond that, I support what he did, if only because it may have been just jarring enough to wake up some people on the Democratic side—and the mainstream media, too—so the debate can move forward, without the Republicans, if need be.

I’m not a fan of the Republican Party. I despise hypocrisy even more, and Alan Grayson has helped to expose the extent to which hypocrisy is a core principle of the Republican Party.

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