Lackey's, Sell-outs and Shills

by digby

With all the din today about Holy Joe and the latest sturm and drang on the public option, you may not have heard that Politico dragged out the Big News that Alan Grayson called a K Street lobbyist a "K Street whore" a month ago on a radio show. He's apologized for it:

“I offer my sincere apology to Linda Robertson, an adviser to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke," Grayson said Tuesday in a statement. "I did not intend to use a term that is often, and correctly, seen as disrespectful of women."

“This characterization of Ms. Robertson, made during a radio interview last month in the context of the debate over whether the Federal Reserve should be independently audited, was inappropriate, and I apologize," he added.
The National Organization for Women had asked for that apology, asking whether he would have used that term to describe a man --- to which I would absolutely assume "yes." It's a metaphor that is commonly used to describe lobbyists of either sex, for obvious reasons. However, it's a mistake to ever call a woman a whore, due to the obvious sexual connotations, and apologizing is the right thing to do.

It's also a very dangerous to call out a well-loved member of the village and a Democratic favorite with ties to both big money and the White House, even if she served as one of Enron's top lobbyists during the period when they were pimping their deregulatory Ponzi scheme all over Washington. Love means never having to say you're sorry. (Or was that "money means never having to say you're sorry?")

(It is also a bit of a mystery as to how Red State and Politico got this story a month after it happened. One hates to think that someone would leak a story about oneself to right wingers in order to garner sympathy and hurt a critic, but it wouldn't be the first time.)

The problem here is that Grayson makes a lot of people uncomfortable. The right hates him for obvious reasons. He is willing to call them out on their own terms and they just aren't used to that. But let's face it, he also makes the Democratic establishment nervous. He indicts them when he indicts the system of legalized bribery and inside job thievery that takes place among the ruling class of both parties. Many others are just made socially uncomfortable by someone who says impolitic things. (I don't call the Democrats the "don't make trouble" party for nothing.)They all have reason to be out for his head.

I totally understand that average people and even the National Organization for Women would be offended by the use of the word. But any politician who is calling for the smelling salts over this is nothing but a phony --- they all know that lobbyists are selling themselves to the highest bidder for huge amounts of money and they also know that people who lobbied for Enron would not be seen as the most trustworthy people to have in the Federal Reserve if the public knew about it. Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse. (And I don't mean in any sexual way, I assure you.) They don't want to have to defend that so they jump on Grayson's use of a common metaphor to attack him and shut him up on the subject.

Fine, he left himself open by using the word and he has apologized. But let's not lose sight of what it is he was saying: Ben Bernanke is being advised on public relations by an Enron lobbyist. Seriously.

As for Grayson's bomb throwing, back bench style, I say more power to him. It's where political change happens, not from above with a White House giving pretty speeches about comity and changing the tone. You have to have people out there who are willing to go right at the sacred cows and take on the entrenched interests. So far, Grayson is pretty much alone and it makes him vulnerable. But like Jackie Robinson, he has to have a thick skin and ignore the insults and just keep playing. He won't be alone for long.

Howie has more on the flap.

*** I think people should read this piece about the rise of Gingrich. He was a malevolent figure whose political philosophy nearly destroyed this country. But he changed the course of history, and dominated American politics for more than a decade by being brash enough to go at the power structure --- and winning. His is a classic case of someone moving the Overton Window.

Consider this excerpt from a 1989 Vanity Fair article:
He was scorned by detractors for some of his wackier notions --which ranged from the off-the-wall (plans for statehood in outer space) to potential political dynamite (he once proposed abolishing Social Security and replacing it with mandatory I.R.A.'s).

In 1989, it was considered completely off the wall to propose replacing Social Security with mandatory IRAs. Within a few years Republicans were running with that on the platform; George W. Bush proposed exactly that and damn near made it happen.

Imagine what might happen if there was someone willing to do that for good instead of evil.