Poor "Flimsy Lindsey" Graham! The Teabag-mad GOP faithful back home suspect him of closet reasonableness!
"Graham made a fist. 'Am I supposed to sit on the sidelines and be a good compliant Republican and just let this administration not account for what I think is a national security breakdown of monumental proportions?' He added that 'I guaran-damn-tee you' that Democrats would treat a Republican president even worse."
-- WaPo's Dana Milbank, about "Lightweight Lindsey" Graham's
Wednesday TV appearance with Fox Noise's Chad Pergram
Wednesday TV appearance with Fox Noise's Chad Pergram
At this point the evidence seems to me to be piling up that "Flimsy Lindsey," although he has a certain measure of political street smarts and a certain flair for the PR moment to go with his more-than-certain puffed-up ego, really and truly is a dope, and quite possibly too stupid to have any tools for figuring out what might or might not be significant about the events at the Benghazi. But it seems pretty clear that none of that is what is driving him now as he runs around the District of Columbia clucking like a crazed chicken.
BOne thing is for sure about the Flimsyman's pretend concern about Benghazi: He doesn't give a flying fig about this supposed "security breakdown of monumental proportions." Because if he had any real concern, he would be screaming bloody murder about congressional Republicans' adamant refusal to provide the funds the State Department needed for security. So, rather obviously, the Flimsyman is lying.
And what else is new? "Lightweight Lindsey" has by now established utterly unimpeachable credentials as an intellectual flyweight, an ego-besotted grandstander, and of course a pathological liar. But once again, it comes down to this: There is no price to pay for right-wingers to lie their putrid guts out. I've referred to this as a "license to lie," and that still seems to me an accurate description. So he doesn't need anything to back up the preposterous claim that Democrats would treat a Republican president even worse, because of course he either doesn't want to understand or genuinely doesn't understand the simple truth of the accusations leveled against recent Republican presidents. And in any case, truth just doesn't enter into the Lightweighter's calculations.
Dana Milbank gives him the benefit of the doubt on his supposed convictions but thinks that's not really what's going on here. He thinks the problem is that the Flimsy One is finding himself lacking in credential for Teh Crazy among his party's faithful back home in South Carolina.
I guaran-damn-tee you this: Graham's antics have as much to do with events in Columbia, S.C., as with events in Washington. His sentiments are no doubt genuine, but the ferocity with which he has been attacking the Obama administration -- taking a high-profile role on Benghazi, Susan Rice, Hagel and gun control -- are helping him to repel a tea party primary challenge at home.Considering how little there is in the Flimsyman's record to support a claim of closet reasonableness, in Teabag world, the bar for Teh Crazy has been raised sky-high.
Graham acknowledged the pressure when I asked him about the influence of home-state politics on his recent actions. "You know, I'm in a red state. I know I'm always exposed in a Republican primary," he said. But he argued, correctly, that he continues to take a leading role on immigration, which infuriates many conservatives.
"I think it's positive for me to one day beat the hell out of them and the next day see if we can do a deal," he said. He described his role in the opposition as a balance between saying "yes for the common good of the country where you can" and saying "no because you need to."
The problem is Graham, to get through the 2014 primary, needs to say "no" more often now. And Congress can hardly afford for one of its few remaining dealmakers to take an obstreperous turn. But perhaps Graham should be given some slack. The Republican primary system has gone haywire, and this may be the only way a sensible lawmaker can survive it.
Not too long ago, Graham had been in deep trouble with South Carolina conservatives because of his talk about climate-change legislation, his votes for both of Obama's Supreme Court nominees, his criticism of the Bush administration's wiretapping and interrogation programs, and his championing of "Grahamnesty" immigration reforms.
But the gradual repositioning has apparently worked. A survey by Public Policy Polling in December found that the percentage of Republicans saying they would vote for him in a primary has climbed to 51 percent from 37 percent in January 2011.
And Graham isn't letting up. At a hearing on gun control, he unnerved a witness, a U.S. attorney, by beginning his questions with a blunt inquiry: "Do you own a gun?" At a Benghazi hearing, he got the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to admit he was "surprised" about Hillary Clinton's ignorance of the ambassador to Libya's request for more security shortly before he was killed.
And Graham delivered a memorable hectoring of Hagel for the nominee's prior claim that lawmakers are "intimidated" by the Israel lobby. "Name one," Graham challenged. Hagel couldn't.
Graham, who has voted the conservative line 90 percent of the time over his career, argues that his new positions are consistent with his previous ones -- and they are. But the difference is in the emphasis. In order to survive the Republicans' backward primary system, Graham needs to de-emphasize anything that might make him appear to be reasonable.