“People are happy to see a Democrat with guts,” said Alan Grayson, one of Florida’s democratic representatives, in reference to his own recent actions.
If you haven’t yet heard of Grayson’s acts, you may be asking what gutsy action has ushered forth this auto-accolade.
The context was health care.
As perhaps the hottest topic on the chamber floor, as well as the one that creates the most dissension, the debate on health care establishes a forum in which representatives on either side can gain fame like victorious generals in a war.
Determination, experience, clout, ethos, angry outbursts — all these can result in politicians emerging into the limelight. Certainly, we can identify these processes in action in the political arena today (Joe Wilson, anyone?)
Yet Grayson’s claim to 'gutsiness' is not derived from any of the aforementioned avenues.
His chosen means? Satire.
Here’s what happened. Grayson recently spoke on the House floor for just over two minutes. During that short period of time, he delivered a speech on ‘the Republican health care plan’ that he outlined as consisting of not getting sick, and if one does get sick, dying quickly.
In the time since his demonstration, Grayson has been urged to apologize for his straw-man representation of the Republican health care stance as well as for the insulting content of his delivery.
The only apology he had to offer, however, was one “to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America.”
Clearly, Grayson is perturbed at the current state of affairs in the White House. He is frustrated with Republicans for their lack of support of the Democratic health care strategy, and chose to act in light of that.
Grayson does not seem to fear backlash; after all, “people are happy to see a Democrat with guts.”
But I don’t think that ‘gutsy’ is the proper adjective for this approach.
If Grayson acted solely out of consideration for those who die annually for lack of health insurance, I imagine that he would contend in a more professional manner. It is obvious that “die quickly” is not the health care plan provided by Republicans, and his failure to take their position seriously has caused me to question his own credibility.
Although I understand the rhetorical power of satire to persuade, I also recognize that much of Grayson’s presentation and ensuing remarks contain gross misrepresentations, which I find disappointing.
Some better words for his actions may be “nerve,” “temerity,” or a sort of plucky, immature chutzpah.
If Grayson wanted to be a brave standard bearer for the cause of the underprivileged (which is indeed a noble calling), perhaps he should have conducted himself more honorably.
Granted, insulting humor has had a place in the governments of many regions. The British Parliament, for instance, has historically hosted battles of wit and rudeness, but a historical precedent does not necessarily justify someone’s actions.
Grayson’s delivery defies the principle of correctly portraying an opposing viewpoint.
His right to speech may very well be protected by the 1st Amendment, but the right to speak does mean that what is spoken is right.
Grayson’s words were arguably more imprudent than gutsy.