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The Tip of the Democratic Spear?

Alan Grayson been making waves lately. His characterizing the Republican health care plan as: “if you get sick, die quickly, and then calling out members of the Republican Party as “foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging neanderthals,” were both good for a laugh. And then, when they howled and demanded an apology, he refused to apologize to them, but instead said that he would only apologize to the 44,000 annual dead and their families for Congress’s inaction failing to fix the health insurance mess.

On Friday’s installment of Countdown, Lawrence O’Donnell, substituting for Keith, played a clip of Grayson’s recent speech on the floor of the House (above), and then also had him on the program for a softball interview (below). In both performances Grayson exuded confidence, comfort, and humor. In the interview he was just “basking,” a really “happy warrior” in the tradition of Al Smith, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman.

Based on these and his other recent performances we can certainly wonder whether Alan Grayson can’t be “the tip of the spear” the Democratic Party has been looking for to speak to the public in the emotional common sense language needed to push Democratic ideas. The President is not that leader. He’s trying to be the leader of all the people, and he avoids partisan messaging, opening the way for the Republicans to attack the Democrats, their outlook and their programmatic ideas, while Obama defends his own agenda, but not the Party’s or the progressives’. Also, our leadership in both Houses of Congress has little mass appeal to say the least. Nancy Pelosi has many good qualities, when it comes to effectively herding the cats in the Party, but she certainly doesn’t project purpose, strength, or commitment to Democratic Party ideals on the national stage. Harry Reid has all the emotional appeal of the proverbial “wet noodle,” and only insiders are aware of his redeeming qualities.

In short, we have few Democratic or progressive spokespersons with “charisma” in the Congress, who can both communicate and command media attention. If Alan Grayson can play that role, without resorting to language whose factual claims go off the deep end, he can be that tip of the Democratic spear the Party needs to once again convincingly carry its historic message: that it is, truly, the Party of the People.

(Also posted at the Alllifeisproblemsolving blog where there may be more comments)

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Joseph M. Firestone, Ph.D. is Managing Director, CEO of the Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI), and Director and co-Instructor of KMCI’s CKIM Certificate program, as well as Director of KMCI’s synchronous, real-time Distance Learning Program. He is also CKO of Executive Information Systems, Inc. a Knowledge and Information Management Consultancy.

Joe is author or co-author of more than 150 articles, white papers, and reports, as well as the following book-length publications: Knowledge Management and Risk Management; A Business Fable, UK: Ark Group, 2008, Risk Intelligence Metrics: An Adaptive Metrics Center Industry Report, Wilmington, DE: KMCI Online Press, 2006, “Has Knowledge management been Done,” Special Issue of The Learning Organization: An International Journal, 12, no. 2, April, 2005, Enterprise Information Portals and Knowledge Management, Burlington, MA: KMCI Press/Butterworth-Heinemann, 2003; Key Issues in The New Knowledge Management, Burlington, MA: KMCI Press/Butterworth-Heinemann, 2003, and Excerpt # 1 from The Open Enterprise, Wilmington, DE: KMCI Online Press, 2003.

Joe is also developer of the web sites,,, and the blog “All Life is Problem Solving” at, and He has taught Political Science at the Graduate and Undergraduate Levels, and has a BA from Cornell University in Government, and MA and Ph.D. degrees in Comparative Politics and International Relations from Michigan State University.