Pro Bono Barrister: Grimm owed Scotto apology–but consider his service

February 3, 2014 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle

If you’ve ever met or spent some time with R-C Congressman Michael Grimm, it’s apparent that he’s a driven, intense, youthful man whose disarming smile should never be misinterpreted as that of an easygoing guy.

A Marine and a Desert Storm combat veteran who earned battlefield promotions, the compact congressman is also skilled at verbal warfare. Observers say that his overpowering television performance three years back debating then-Democratic Rep. Michael McMahon earned him a victory in the congressional battle.

They faced off on NY1. It was a brutal, yet civil, confrontation. McMahon was tough and never backed down. Equally tough, Grimm displayed the relentless vigor of a seasoned warrior who could remain cool while fighting for his political future.

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Even after almost four years of Washington, Michael Grimm remains a tightly coiled spring, capable of sending a harsh message should the situation demand it. But on occasion, perhaps due to an over-honed “fight or flight” response, his behavior is explosive, especially regarding his treatment of NY1’s Mike Scotto.

Yet, even those of us who do not share his political views have to cut him some slack after that  disturbing outburst Tuesday night when he scared the hell out of reporter Scotto.

The next day, Grimm sent out an impolitic statement blaming Scotto for the one-sided confrontation. Brief hours later, Grimm apologized, acknowledging that his behavior was out of order and very bad public relations.

There is a positive in all of this: We once again must realize that when we train young men and women to do battlefield combat and prepare them to respond with deadly force when their lives are threatened, it’s hard and often impossible for them to become calm and fuzzy in all situations when their service is done.

Thousands of war veterans evince the propensity to over-respond to even mild threats. Grimm was wrong, and he’d better learn how to modify his behavior.

But we all, especially former “President” Dick Cheney, must realize that war-time service inflicts  unseen damage on those who experience its brutality.

One of the more serious  consequences of the Grimm-Scotto incident is that it spotlights a number of of legal problems circulating around the Staten Island-Brooklyn congressman.

Domenic Recchia, a former Brooklyn councilman, is a skilled, competent campaigner.

Recent political history demonstrates that it’s very difficult for a Brooklyn Democrat to defeat a Staten Island Republican in this district, which includes all of Staten Island and a Republican-leaning swath of Brooklyn.

The November outcome hinges largely on the willingness of Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to designate this district as one where the Democrat has a real chance to defeat the Republican.  

Grimm’s Scotto affair drew nationwide attention and, perhaps most damning, was used as a spoof on late-time comedy shows, which have a disproportionate impact on voters.

If Pelosi wants to release funding for the Recchia campaign, a very interesting campaign could ensue.


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