On Tuesday, Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida said that the only plan Republicans who are opposing health-care reform are offering is "don't get sick" but if you do, "die quickly." Republicans were outraged and demanded an apology, even threatening Grayson with a resolution. Yesterday, on the House floor, Grayson said:
I call upon the Democratic members of the House, I call upon the Republican members of the House, I call upon all of us to do our jobs for the sake of America, for the sake of those dying people and their families.
I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America.
What's happened here is very simple. For months, the GOP has accused Democrats of wanting to kill old people, ration health care based on race or party affiliation, or usher in an era of totalitarian repression -- and they haven't been shy about the holocaust comparisons either. For the first time since the health-care debate started, a Democrat has accused Republicans of being the kind of inhuman monsters Republicans regularly accuse Democrats of being, and he has refused to apologize for it.
You could argue that Grayson's comments are beyond the pale of appropriate civil discourse. But between the Obama as Hitler comparisons and "bury Obamacare with Kennedy" signs, we've been far beyond that for some time. The difference is that the political press has always accepted this kind of behavior from Republicans without questioning their motives or sincerity. They're used to it from Republicans. They're not used to it from Democrats, and so they're having a hard time accepting it.
Maybe Dana's right that Grayson's being "unhinged," but from a political point of view, Democrats not in the White House would probably be advised to follow Grayson's lead and hit back. Politeness and civility were sacrificed long ago -- for the Democrats, it should be all about getting the bill passed. Republicans mobilized their base to great effect -- Democrats should be doing the same thing.
-- A. Serwer