Rep. Alan Grayson goes a comment too far

Going on a fringe radio show to call a public official a "whore"? Stay classy, congressman

By Gabriel Winant

Published October 27, 2009 4:12PM (EDT)

Some elected officials -- you know the ones -- live on controversy. It’s one thing, of course, when you’re taking brave stands and challenging conventional wisdom. It’s another when, like Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., you’re going on wack-job conspiracy theory talk shows to call a fellow public servant a “whore.”

It was about a month ago that Grayson gave an interview to "The Alex Jones Show," which is home to a wide array of old-school right-wing conspiracy theorizing -- think the Bilderberg Group, Wall Street and Barack Obama conspiring to bring about the New World Order. You get the idea.

In the Jones interview, Grayson opined that Fed advisor Linda Robertson, with whom he has had some sharp exchanges, is a “K Street whore.”

There is, theoretically, a valid way to express the idea that the Fed apparatus often appears to be in hock to the business lobby. It’s a point that’s been made in Salon, in fact, over and over. But "The Alex Jones Show" is a place to choose your words carefully (or, even better, to avoid altogether). Worrying about the Fed’s independence by telling Jones that someone there is a “K Street whore” is like telling a Klansman that the Iraq war was waged at the behest of Jewish neoconservatives looking out for Israel. It’s not that there isn’t a kernel of a point there. But making the point in such red-meat language, to such an audience, encourages paranoid, and often scary, ideas.

Besides, it’s pretty inappropriate for a congressman to resort to calling someone he’s in a personal spat with a “whore,” especially a woman. In a statement released Tuesday, after the quote resurfaced and started making news, Grayson’s spokesman didn’t really improve matters:

She actually questioned his understanding of the difference between fiscal and monetary policy. She had the audacity to attack a congressman who used to be an economist. She's a career lobbyist who used to work for Enron and advocates for whatever she gets paid to promote.

Great, so it’s not so much that Grayson is worried about the Fed’s independence -- he's more just pissed that Robertson hasn’t paid him sufficient personal deference.

Not long after the interview, Alex wrote here in War Room that Grayson risked marginalizing himself by going on-air with Jones, as well as by accumulating a record of provocative, attention-baiting comments about political opponents.

Monday night, the interview circulated around Capitol Hill, and -- as predicted -- caused some consternation among Grayson’s colleagues. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., said, “There’s no call for that language. No call for it. That’s absurd. If he was standing here now, I’d say that to him.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who knows Robertson, called the comment “inappropriate and unfair.” But the winner was Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who asked, “Is this news to you that this guy’s one fry short of a Happy Meal?”

Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

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Alan Grayson D-fla. Anthony Weiner D-n.y. Enron Federal Reserve