Sunday, April 26, 2015

In Which I (Briefly) Say Something Nice About Lindsey Graham

The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

Is Lindsey Graham one of that rare breed for which I hunt so diligently: the Sane Republican? If this was “Jeopardy,” the response would be, “What is, ‘Things You Never Thought You’d Hear Dusty Say,’ Alex.” Nevertheless, as we wait for the bachelor (not that there’s anything wrong with that) senator from South Carolina to make up his mind about whether he’s going to be the next one out of the Republican Clown Car, I find myself hearing some things from him that make me go, “Wait a minute, Lindsey Graham said THAT?”
For example, Graham apparently does not believe in your God-given right to use your firearm to revolt against the government. This sets him apart from, for example, Graham’s fellow senator, Ted Cruz.
In a fundraising email, Cruz asserts that “The Second Amendment to the Constitution isn’t for just protecting hunting rights, and it’s not only to safeguard your right to target practice. It is a constitutional right to protect your children, your family, your home, our lives, and to serve as the ultimate check against governmental tyranny — for the protection of liberty.”
If you think about this for a second, this basically means the Second Amendment gives you the right not only to shoot robbers and rapists; it also justifies killing cops, soldiers and especially politicians who you feel are “threatening to your liberty.” Or, as prominent Republican fundraiser Ted Nugent put it: “Obama can suck on my machine gun.”
Asked about Cruz’s statement, an expression of what some law professors have dubbed the “insurrectionist” theory of the Second Amendment, Graham disagreed.
“Well, we tried that once in South Carolina. I wouldn’t go down that road again,” he said in an interview with Talking Points Memo. “I think an informed electorate is probably a better check than guns in the streets. I’m not looking for an insurrection.”
No “guns in the streets”? No “if ballots don’t work, bullets will”? What kind of mealy-mouthed, squishy Republicanism is this when threatening a second Civil War is off the table?
Then there are statements Graham made regarding immigration on a trip to New Hampshire a couple of weeks ago, as reported by Yahoo! News senior correspondent Jon Ward.
When engaging with a crowd at a Republican Committee meeting, Graham was confronted by a local politician who asserted that illegal aliens were receiving government benefits. This is an article of faith with the perpetually outraged, xenophobic Teahadist wing of the GOP, if you use the definition of “faith” that means “something someone has an unshakeable belief in despite the evidence.”
Sen. Graham immediately risked being burned at the stake for heresy: “You can say that, but you cannot get food stamps, you can’t get Medicare, you can’t get Social Security if you’re illegal.”
For over half an hour, according to the article, Graham tried to cajole and persuade his audience on immigration reform, asking questions like, “How many of you believe they should get paid over the table, not under the table? How many believe they should pay taxes?” He apparently forgot the basic principle that you can’t use reason to persuade people away from a position that reason never led them to in the first place. But even I have to give him credit for trying.
He’s also a believer in climate change, saying he’d like to “clean up the air and create a lower carbon economy over time.” He’s characterized that position as “commonsensical.” (See “using reason,” above.)
I’m not worried, though. I know that this tentative warmth I’m feeling toward Sen. Graham will only last until the next international crisis, when he goes on TV and starts foaming at the mouth and stomping his little feet about how we need to bomb, bomb, bomb and oh yes, “show leadership,” before whoever the boogeyman of the moment is “opens the gates of hell,” thus releasing a plague of locusts, demons and Sharia lawyers and leading to a thousand years of darkness and despair.
Oh, and Graham apparently still thinks we can intervene successfully in Syria by arming anti-Assad rebels, so long as we only arm the “right ones.” Because that’s worked so well in the past. And at some point, he’ll no doubt threaten to filibuster some unrelated nomination if he can’t open up yet another Benghazi witch hunt.
Lindsey Graham says, with rather odd precision, that he’s “91 percent sure” he’ll raise enough money to announce that he’s running in May. And I’m 100 percent sure that, if he does, he’ll tank after South Carolina, if he even makes it that far. He just doesn’t have the ideological purity primary voters demand.