To the vast majority of Americans, Rep. Alan Grayson (D) of Florida is the representative who told members of Congress late Tuesday night that the Republicans’ health care plan was for sick Americans to die quickly.
Accompanied by a billboard adorned with the same message, he said this precisely: “If you get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly.”
What is perhaps most surprising is that it took him this long to get America’s attention.
Bringing the blogosphere to Capitol Hill
The New Republic describes the freshman congressman – who is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House – as “the first member to bring the blogosphere's in-your-face style to Capitol Hill.”
When his hometown paper, the Orlando Sentinel, suggested that “some say” his style “may quickly rub his new colleagues the wrong way.” He responded in a fundraising e-mail: “Well, 'some say' that the Sentinel is a trashy tabloid that dresses up bias and gossip as news.”
Introducing Vice President Joe Biden at a fundraising dinner, he suggested that former Vice President Dick Cheney gave Mr. Biden a tour of the White House "dungeon" and "its torture rack." He joked that Mr. Cheney invited Biden to “go waterboarding” with him.
Grayson enemy No. 1: the Fed
His performances at hearings are tailored for the YouTube generation, and he has his own section on the online video site.
In one typical exchange, he asked the CEO of AIG the names of the “20 to 25 people” involved in the credit-default swaps that played a part in AIG’s collapse.
Edward Liddy: …I do not know those names. I don't have them all at my command.
Grayson: Well, how can you propose to solve the problems of the company that you're now running if you don't know the names of the people who caused that problem?...
Liddy: I'm just not going to do that, sir, because that will provide—that'll be the—that could be a list of people that we could do—individuals who want to do damage to them could do that. It's just not…
Grayson: Well, listen, these same people could now be working right now today at Citibank. Is it more important to protect them, the ones who caused the $100 billion loss, or protect us? Which is more important to you right now?
In what could be this Congress’s most extreme case of strange bedfellows, Grayson has teamed up with libertarian Republican Ron Paul to back a bill calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts has backed the bill.
In an interview with Phil’s Stock World, he called the Federal Reserve’s activity “the story of the millennium. There are very few stories you can ever write about where the numbers involved have 13 digits in them.”
Some call him a conspiracy theorist. Many liberals call him a hero.
But one thing seems clear. He could well be the congressman least likely to apologize for his words.
He did apologize Wednesday, though it was not the apology Republicans might have been hoping for.
Citing a Harvard study that estimates 44,000 Americans die every year because they don’t have health insurance, he said: "I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America."