I just spoke with Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), and he stood by his “Names of the Dead” Web site, which is meant to memorialize the people who have lost their lives because they didn’t have health insurance — and which was promptly flooded with joke names, and criticized by the GOP for allegedly violating campaign finance law.
Grayson said that the site is being done in the spirit of other great memorials that are all around Washington — to honor the dead who have lost their lives for a lack of insurance, and to make people think about the issue.
“I can’t really tell you how I first got the idea for it. But I can tell you there are many memorials that are very moving. They’re all around D.C., and everyone who visits D.C. gives some thought to the people we lost,” said Grayson. “And I think this is a very fitting way to show these people that we respect them and we miss them. We miss them, and we love them. The people who are gone because they didn’t get the health care they needed are just as important as everyone else. And the fact that certain elements of the political spectrum deny their existence only makes it that much more important that we remember them by naming them and honoring them.”
“I meant what I said in my floor speech,” Grayson also said, explaining: “That the best way to honor them is to make sure that everyone in America has the health care they need, and that the list itself, the need for the list, is a thing of the past.”Grayson dismissed the GOP’s attacks on the site, as being legally groundless.
“Just so you know, they haven’t filed any sort of complaint, nor does any complaint like that have any validity,” Grayson said of the GOP’s attacks. He also said that his staff checked with the Majority Leader’s office, and they said it was fine. The site is paid for by Grayson himself, and not with any funds from his campaign committee or his House office.
“Do we always have to let the other side set the agenda?” said Grayson. “What I’ve done here is to set up a memorial to honor the people we’ve lost. Isn’t that more important than xeroxing the latest NRCC rant?”
Regarding the prank names, Grayson said: “Well, this is typical of the Republicans. They show no respect, even for the dead.”
Did Grayson fail to adequately prepare for prank names? “If someone tries to — oh my God — if someone tries to cut off your arm with an ax, is it your fault that you’re not wearing body armor?” Grayson responded. “I mean, isn’t that a little twisted? I’m supposed to anticipate that the other side will show enormous disrespect for dead Americans?”
He said the site will be corrected, with the capability to delete obvious prank names. He does not yet know, however, whether submitted names will go live immediately, or if instead they will be cleared by an administrator.
Grayson dismissed Republican attacks against the site, and urged me and everyone else to not let the right-wing attack machine set the agenda: “I can’t even go to the bathroom without them criticizing me for one thing or another, and I don’t think we should fall into that trap.”