The idea started out as a bit of a gag on twitter and on the blogs: Rather than legitimize the new House GOP select committee on #Benghazi by sending a full slate of Dems to participate, Dems should instead send a single lawmaker who is well schooled in mixing it up with Republican crazy. In other words: Why not just turn Dem Rep. Alan Grayson loose?
It now appears that the Draft Grayson movement is gaining a bit of traction, with two major liberal groups giving some thought to pushing it.
A petition on the Credo Mobilize site calling on House Democrats to send only Grayson has now garnered 17,000 signatures. Credo officials say they think it’s possible the signatures could soon pass the 50,000 mark.
Meanwhile, a source at MoveOn tells me the group “has taken notice and is looking into the idea as a way of exposing the committee as the kangaroo court that it is.”
The idea is basically to deny the committee credibility by not sending a full set of Democrats, because their presence would make the proceedings look like a legitimate investigation that Dems and Republicans are simply disagreeing over. Meanwhile, sending just one person, who could engage GOP “revelations” in real time and have access to documents and witnesses, would avoid the downsides of a total boycott.
Making Grayson that one person would bring an added benefit, the thinking goes. The person who posted the petition on the Credo Mobilize web site, Brad Bauman, is a well-respected liberal operative who was previously executive director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. As a result, he’s well-positioned to make the case for the idea, having seen Grayson’s unique abilities up close when he was turned loose to push message amendments.
“Alan Grayson has the skill set necessary to dissect Republican arguments that are completely unhinged from reality and expose them for what they are,” Bauman told me. “We don’t want to give the committee any level of credibility, but we do ourselves a disservice as a movement over and over again by ignoring what they say and not showing it for what it is. Sometimes you have to wade into the crazy in order to destroy the crazy.”
House Dem leaders have not made a decision on whether to participate in the panel, and have asked for more influence over subpoenas, the manner in which witnesses will be questioned, and other process matters they say would make the probe fairer. It’s unclear whether House Democratic leaders have given the Grayson idea any serious consideration — in part because Dem leaders are simply awaiting a response from John Boehner to their demands before taking any additional steps.
“It would be in our interest to have someone in there with great credibility and stature among both Democrats and Republicans,” one House Democratic aide told me. “It’s unclear Grayson would be that person, despite his talents.”
Another well-known liberal operative and SiriusXM radio host, Ari Rabin-Havt, recently made the case for sending Grayson:
The pugnacious former litigator has demonstrated the exact skill set needed to cut through the Republican mythology, the work ethic necessary to fully immerse himself in the issue, and the temperament to weather the blistering attacks sure to come from the conservative media. […]
Trey Gowdy has cast himself as prosecutor, necessitating Democrats provide a countervailing force focused solely on the truth. It’s this talent Democrats need on the select committee on Benghazi — one for which Grayson’s gift is well-proven.
The basic idea seems to be that if Republicans are going full freak show, why not send a proven master of playing by the freak show’s rules to reveal the proceedings for what they are? Or, put another way, if Republicans are going to continue trolling on Behgnazi, why not turn loose the most aggressive in the business to troll them back?