The Alan Grayson spin machine had been running full speed.
The storyline — promoted by Grayson's handlers and the media — was that Central Florida's firebrand liberal congressman was no longer a bomb-thrower.
No more calling female lobbyists whores. No more comparing opponents to the Taliban. No more saying Republicans want sick people to "die quickly."
It was a kinder, gentler Alan. "Alan Grayson 2.0," declared one headline, "Less fire-breathing, more self-restraint."
You know, the racists in white hoods. Who have killed people.
Grayson even included a picture of a burning cross, suggesting it was the "t" in "tea party."
He then turned the image into a fundraising pitch.
In doing so, Grayson re-established himself as what many people have thought he always was — hyperbolic, insensitive and tough to take seriously.
The email kicked off a predictable firestorm. One tea party group turned Grayson's fundraising attack on them with a fundraising attack on him, titled: "We Are Under Siege!"
Grayson seems not to realize that he fuels the extremism he claims to despise.
Or perhaps he doesn't care, as long as he gets attention.
The truth is: I don't really care much about the outrage from the loudest tea party zealots. They would scream at Grayson no matter what.
But I do care that Grayson, as a U.S. congressman, contributes to a coarsening of public debate.
I care that he's trivializing the deaths of scores of blacks … to raise money for himself, no less.
I care that he uses some of the same tactics as racists — using the actions of some to try to demonize and stereotype an entire group — to justify his actions. (I'm guessing that escapes him.)
I even care that Grayson undermines some of his otherwise valid points.
Grayson remains unapologetic. Even as fellow Democrats condemned his tactics, Grayson responded: "If the hood fits …"
Alan 2.0 indeed.
Grayson's defense is that the tea party says ugly, racist things.