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How much political hyperbole is too much?

PLUS: Grayson and Bachmann rhetoric, Pawlenty on the run, and Mall of America Field?

The health care debate has begun to turn into an argument about how much hyperbole is acceptable, it seems. Conservatives would like Florida Rep. Alan Grayson to apologize for comments Tuesday in which he said, “The Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick.” Grayson’s response, as reported by FOX9, was scorching: “I would like to apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner to end this holocaust in America.” It can’t be denied that Grayson’s rhetoric is heated and a bit over the top, but should he have to apologize? Keith Ellison seems to think no, saying Wednesday on “The Ed Show,” “Let me tell you, I think Alan is always to the point. Alan always makes a lot of sense.  I’m not surprised at all that he really did hit the nail on the head.” (Cynthia Dizikes offers further reporting on Ellison’s comments.)

But if Grayson is to be expected to apologize for his comments, couldn’t we also expect that the same demand should be made of Michele Bachmann, who, after all, is perhaps the most hysterical voice on the subject of health care reform; as an example, on the floor of the House Wednesday, Bachmann took some ambiguity in the language of a health care reform bill and turned it into a masterpiece of dystopian science fiction, saying, “Does that mean that someone’s 13-year old daughter could walk into a sex clinic, have a pregnancy test done, be taken away to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, have their abortion, be back, and go home on the school bus that night? Mom and dad are never the wiser. They don’t know any different.” (You can watch the video here.) So far, nobody seems to have called for an apology from Bachmann.

For somebody who publicly behaves as though he just doesn’t know if he is going to run for president or not, Pawlenty keeps doing the sorts of things that somebody who wants to run for president would do, causing us to strain for appropriate metaphors. Today, we’ll say that he’s a guy who is saying he’s not sure if he wants a cocktail, but has a tumbler full of ice in one hand, a frosted shaker in the other, and a table full of top-shelf gins and vermouths in front of him. Also, he’s wearing a shirt that says “Gonna get drunk tonight.” In this instance, as Brian Bakst of the Associated Press reports, Pawlenty’s recently formed PAC is just loaded up with high-profile consultants from past presidential campaigns and administrations, including Terry Nelson, a veteran of the presidential campaigns of Republicans George W. Bush and John McCain.

Jonathan Martin of Politico seems impressed, saying “Pawlenty, under the radar of D.C.’s political community, has locked up some of the key operatives who engineered then-President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign — a significant feat for a little-known Midwestern politician.” Tom Scheck of Minnesota Public Radio relays the Democratic National Committee’s response, quoting Hari Sevugan: “I know folks had hoped that he could be a fresh face for the Republican Party, but rather than bringing in leaders with new ideas, Tim Pawlenty has chosen to recycle not only the same failed policies and priorities of George W. Bush, but also the same advisers.” Hey, hey, hey, Sevugan, not so fast! Pawlenty hasn’t said he actually is running yet! Pawlenty himself had this to say, according to John Croman of KARE11: “I don’t know what I’m going to be doing a few years from now. I might still be in politics, but I might also be in the private sector.” Pawlenty then poured himself a martini, but wouldn’t say if he was going to drink it or not.

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If Pawlenty does decide to run, his advisers might have to address his sense of humor, which is always a little baffling. City Pages points out a YouTube video of Pawlenty being interviewed on Fox Thursday, in which the governor says,There’s a joke out now that says the main value of the Cash for Clunkers program may be that we’ll get a lot of cars with Obama stickers off the road.” Isn’t the popular stereotype of liberals as out-of-touch latte-sipping New York millionaires? When did they start driving hoopties?

Of course, he’s not the only person who has been a little circumspect in announcing his plans. R.T. Rybak has stated that he’s thinking about running for governor but hasn’t made any sort of official declaration. Maybe he thinks he did make the announcement, because, when City Pages caught up with him at an AFL-CIO forum and asked him what he’s been up to, Rybak responded withOh you know, running for mayor, running for governor … busy.” Perhaps this is simply a new technique in politics: Rather than make any official announcement, you just casually mention it when you run into people. Some people are like that. You don’t see them for a year, and bump into them, and ask what’s news, and they say, “Oh, got a new dog, been working a lot, got married …” and you wonder why you never got the invitation.

You can always count on Twitter to provide immediate, uncensored reactions to news, and here’s a sampling of responses to the announcement, as summarized by the Associated Press, that the Vikings have partnered with the Mall of America, and the immediate result is that the Metrodome now suffers under the following laborious moniker: Mall of America Field at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. From Echofon: “WTF???” Room34 says, “Worst stadium naming rights ever.” Willie1701A points out that the new name is “almost too long to tweet.” The most retweeted comment comes from a user named TheStalwart, who dryly notes, “A sports stadium sponsored by a mall. How American.”

In the meanwhile, according to WCCO’s Pat Kessler, the Vikings are already agitating for a new home when their lease with the Metrodome — excuse me, the MOAFAHHHM — expires in 2011. Lester Bagley, a Vikings spokesperson, offers the reasons: “While the Metrodome has been great for this community and this state, it can no longer compete for fan experience and game day amenities for fans. We are working toward a public-private partnership to resolve this issue.”