Grayson is refusing to apologize for saying that Republicans want Americans to "die quickly." Eric Trager thinks this is indicative of something larger:

Grayson would hardly be the first politician to recognize that, simply put, there is no such thing as bad publicity.  The problem, however, is that the Age of Hypermedia has magnified the incentives for crude political behavior substantially. Indeed, desperate politicians – particularly those expecting stiff competition in the next election – know that outrageous statements are more likely to get broadcast/blogged/tweeted/posted/forwarded than well-reasoned ones.  They further know that these statements will mostly alienate those who wouldn’t have voted for them anyway, while the die-hards will back them more strongly than ever – and often with cash.  Just ask Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), whose receipts rose substantially after she suggested that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama held “anti-American views”; or Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), who reaped $1.8 million in contributions barely a week after he shouted “you lie” at President Obama during a joint-session of Congress.

It's impossible to watch the vast ignorance, hate and extremism in this country right now and not almost despair. At a time of extraordinary challenges, the center is not holding.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.