By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Here's a new entry for your political phrasebooks: "Zero to Grayson in 60 seconds." It refers to a meteoric rise from back-bencher obscurity to featured character on the 24-hour news networks (60 seconds being the length of the typical House floor speech). Unfortunately, one doesn't go from zero to Grayson by dint of legislative skill and accomplishment. It takes crass or comically stupid comments—accusing your political opponents of hoping that the sick will hurry up and die, or of trying to pull the plug on grandma, for example.
I refer of course to Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, who this week hit the rhetorical double play of saying that the Republicans' healthcare plan involved hoping that the sick would "die quickly" and then apologizing by way of comparing the U.S. healthcare system to a holocaust. As Doug pointed out earlier, the Democratic guardians of civic propriety who complained about Joe Wilson's crossing lines one just doesn't cross on the House floor are suddenly silent.
And I also refer to, well, any number of Republicans who over the last few months have warned that the Democrats' first move after taking over the healthcare system will be to set up "death panels" for the orderly, Logan's Run-style extermination of the elderly.
As Josh Marshall observed yesterday:
...is this really a controversy when half the Republican elected officials in the country have been saying for the last couple months, as a statement of purported fact, that the Democrats want to institute 'death panels' that will euthanize or deny care to people who can't justify their lives on utilitarian grounds?
Well yes, actually, really. For what little it's worth, the Democrats have had the moral high ground for those months. The way to fight despicable and deranged death panel rhetoric is to point it out for what it is, not to find a Democratic equivalent to throw back.