In his short stint as a Congressman from Florida’s 8th Congressional District, Grayson was one of my favorites. Particularly when he gave his speech on the House floor about the apparent Republican plan for health care reform, which he described as “Don’t get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly”. The speech ruffled a lot of Republican feathers, but I thought then he told it exactly like it was.

That was commonplace for Alan Grayson, to make sharp, cutting, no-holds-barred criticisms of right-wing politicians and their stances. He has a “shock jock” quality to him that is enjoyable. Shock jocks often push the envelope but sometimes they go over the line and need to be reeled back in. The other day Grayson did just that.

He did so by posting a diary in Daily Kos titled “I Told Newt He Looks Fat”. He went into detail about his alleged exchange with the former Speaker of the House in that diary. He said

So Gingrich came to the Floor of the House a year ago. I went nowhere near him. I just don’t like the smell of sulfur. But another member, whom I like very much, told me that she wanted to introduce me. I said, “no, that’s OK, thanks anyway. I really don’t know what to say to him.” But she insisted.

She introduced me to Newt.

I said to him, “you look like you’ve gained a lot of weight.”

Newt stared at me.

I said, “I remember you being much slimmer back in the 1990’s. When you were relevant.”

Newt scowled at me, and walked away. Good comeback, Newt. By the way, Newt Gingrich scowls just the way you would expect Newt Gingrich to scowl.

Come on, Alan! Please!! And shame on the 269 folks who “tipped” the diary (meaning they clicked ‘recommend’ in the “tip jar” – you probably have to read Daily Kos a few times to understand). The diary, and many of the comments, show how grossly hypocritical all of us can be. There’s a little of it in all of us, but when it’s that brazen, it should be pointed out.

Over a year ago talk show host Laura Ingraham delivered a cheap shot towards Meghan McCain, mocking her weight. Many of us roundly condemned the comments, and rightfully so. I have little doubt that many of the folks who did so are the same ones who participated in the revelry about Grayson’s comments. Not all of us did, though. Those of us who expressed our dismay, however, were greeted with calls to “lighten up” or “we don’t need you to be our moral police”.

STOP!! JUST STOP!!!

I like it when fellow progressives use strong, maybe even harsh language, about the things politicians do. I said the things politicians do. Their own personal demons, such as their weight, should be off limits. All kinds of people struggle in many untold ways – physical, emotional and psychological, with their weight. It has nothing to do with what a politician does, with the policies they propose and the actions they take. It doesn’t matter that Newt Gingrich has done a lot of despicable things and has himself been judgmental towards many people, including his sister Candace. Two wrongs don’t make a right. To imply that it does is to commit the tu quoque fallacy.

I had just one thing to say on Daily Kos about this sorry diary:

“Lighten up” is the siren song of the irresponsible.

We don’t need to lighten up. Grayson and the rest of you who rec’d this need to stop making fun of someone for his weight. Remember when Laura Ingraham took potshots at Megan McCain for her weight? So many of us were all over Ingrahahm for it, and rightfully so.

Mr. Grayson you are good at what you do but this is uncalled for.

Come on, fellow progressives. We’re better than that.

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