This weekend, George Will published a column calling Alan Grayson "America's worst politician." Grayson, a Democratic representative for Florida's Eighth District, has been a bugbear of the right since taking office in 2009, infamous for characterizing "the Republican health care plan" as "Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly." Grayson's also notorious for running an ad this year against his congressional opponent, Republican Daniel Webster, that took Webster's words out of context to make it appear that he was saying the opposite of what he was actually saying. That ad drew plenty of criticism, and it may be that Grayson's confrontational style will cost him his seat in next week's midterms.
Grayson Is a Blight Newsweek's George Will pulls no punches: "Grayson's rhetorical style is schoolyard crude." He engages in "relentless advertising of his intellectual shortcomings." He proves that "there is unseemly exposure of mind as well as of body." All in all, says Will, "public life would be improved by scrubbing Rep. Alan Grayson from it."
What Happened With That Ad? In 2009, Daniel Webster spoke at a religious conference in Nashville. He urged married men in the audience to pick a Bible verse for their wives. "Don't pick the ones that say, 'She should submit to me,'" Webster told the audience. "That's in the Bible, but pick the ones that you're supposed to do. So instead, 'love your wife, even as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it,' as opposed to 'wives submit to your own husbands.'" According to FactCheck.org, Grayson's ad only uses the audio snippet where Webster says, "'She should submit to me.' That's in the Bible." The ad refers to Webster as "Taliban Dan" and warns that Webster's views on women and reproductive rights smack of religious fundamentalism.
'Taliban Dan' Spot Hurt Grayson... As the Wire noted at the time, Grayson's ad probably did more damage to his own campaign than to Webster's. The Orlando Sentinel endorsed Webster over Grayson, specifically citing the "Taliban Dan" ad and saying that "Mr. Grayson's antics are not merely an embarrassment to himself and his district. They deepen the partisan divide that has left Congress almost dysfunctional."
...But Webster's Views Do Raise Some Eyebrows Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo notes that Webster's "years-long affiliation with the Institute for Basic Life Principles would suggest that Webster does have out-of-the-mainstream views of the role of women." Among other things, the IBLP describes a wife's role as one of "reverent submission and assistance" and prescribes against women working outside the home.
Grayson's Record Means Lefties Love Him... At Politics Daily, Mark Pinsky reports that "Grayson is probably the most outspoken liberal in Congress. He opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (each 'a foreign occupation') and supports abortion rights, gay marriage, bilingual programs, middle class tax cuts, trade unions -- as well as comprehensive, single-payer health care." For these reasons, he's "become a favorite of the Democratic base, a hero of Netroots Nation, and the sweetheart of MSNBC."
...But It May Not Be Enough A story in The Washington Times calls Grayson "vulnerable" and quotes David Wasserman, editor of The Cook Political Report, who says, "It's over--Alan Grayson is the surest loser in the House right now." The story goes on to note that "while not all political analysts agree that the outspoken--and at times controversial--Mr. Grayson will lose, few deny he is in serious trouble."