Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, the fiery leftist and Republican hater whose offensive comments about Republicans may well have cost him his seat last November, gets a fairly fond send-off in Monday's New York Times.
Reporter Michael Barbaro, previously known for his hostile coverage of Wal-Mart, called Grayson the “pugnaciously partisan, verbal-bomb-tossing, liberal folk hero of the 111th Congress,” and the headline and text box are complimentary. “Enter: Swinging. Exit: Much the Same Way.” The text box: “In or out of Congress, Alan Grayson is a man of strong views.”
Barbaro only briefly dealt with Grayson’s history of foul partisan fusillades, skipping Grayson’s campaign ad calling Republican opponent Daniel Webster “Taliban Dan” (which may have cost Grayson the election).
After relaying a few newly minted Graysonisms like calling incoming speaker of the House John Boehner a “tool of special interest,” Barbaro summarized the bombastic former lawmaker with a stream of ambivalent adjectives:
Representative Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida’s Eighth Congressional District, is leaving office on Wednesday much as he entered it two years ago -- as the pugnaciously partisan, verbal-bomb-tossing, liberal folk hero of the 111th Congress.
By contrast, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich doesn’t get the courtesy of the “verbal” modifier from the Times, but has been bluntly called a “bomb thrower” on several occasions since his elevation to Speaker of the House in 1995.
Barbaro allowed Grayson space to defend his rhetoric, probably not a totally good idea, given Grayson’s goofy pride in his YouTube popularity. And it's an open question whether the Times would have greeted a joke from a Tea Party Republican about kicking his opponents with steel-toed boots as harmless.
A Bronx native with a fondness for steel-toed cowboy boots (the better to kick Republicans with, he jokes), Mr. Grayson rose to prominence as a lawyer by successfully suing wayward military contractors who profited from the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Republicans called him incendiary and over the top, or worse. When Mr. Grayson set up a Web site for himself called Congressman With Guts, a local Republican operative countered with a site called My Congressman Is Nuts.
Mr. Grayson said he had simply tried to put complex issues into accessible -- and, yes, memorable -- terms. “People say the same thing to me over and over again: ‘You say what I am thinking but nobody else will say,’ ” he said. He likes to boast that his YouTube channel is the most popular of any House member’s.
Exit question: Are they laughing with Grayson or at him?