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Why Alan Grayson Has a Fan Club

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, September 25 2009

The New Republic's Marin Cogan profiles "the blogosphere's man in Congress," otherwise known as first-term Representative Alan Grayson, Democrat of Central Florida. A taste:

Shortly after taking office, Grayson--recognizable on the Hill for his 6'4" frame, which fills his pinstripe suits and flamboyantly mismatched shirts and ties--began making opposition to the bankers and regulators who precipitated last year's financial collapse the signature issue of his first term. He poached Matt Stoller, co-founder of the OpenLeft site and one of the netroots' most prominent liberal bloggers, to advise him on financial services. "Usually I have to push candidates to become more aggressive," Stoller wrote on his blog after meeting Grayson, "in Grayson's case, he pushed me."

Cogan's brief character sketch of Grayson is intriguing. But one hungers for more. It's not just that Grayson is a darling of the online left, though he is. His candidacy was boosted on blogs including Open Left and Howie Klein's Down With Tyranny, and his persistant but monotonally gentle questioning of Federal Reserve Inspector General Elizabeth Coleman has attracted a startling 1.8 million views on YouTube since mid-May. But you know where at least some number of those views came from? Through an unlikely fan, FoxNews commentator Glenn Beck. Beck embedded the video on GlennBeck.com and praised Grayson for his "fine work being done to keep up on things at the Fed."

Grayson is a different kind of politician, a flamethrower with footnotes, willing to challenge assumptions and be thought of as excessive by his colleagues and the press if it gets the job (at least, what he sees as his job) done. It's probably safe to say that bloggers, left and right, tend to like that sort of thing. Whether that will make for a successful political career is a fascinating, and open, question.