WTMA commentary broadcast 10/31/08:

When Republican Congressman Tom Davis said last spring “the Republican brand is in the trash can… if we were dog food, they would take us off the shelf,” he couldn’t have been more right. In addition to having to endure eight years of the biggest, big government president in Republican George W. Bush and a Republican running for president who is as much a wealth redistributionist as his opponent, I came across the following campaign literature this week, sent to South Carolina Democrats by the Lindsey Graham campaign: “An independent voice” who “isn’t afraid to speak his mind” it reads, adding that Lindsey “has the courage to stand firm, even when it’s not popular, and reach across party lines to solve tough problems.” Translation? Like his president and his good buddy McCain, Graham can’t wait join up with Ted Kennedy again to shove more amnesty bills, Wall Street bailouts and bigger government down voters throats, whether they like it or not. That’s not courage – its capitulation.

In an article entitled “The Worst Republican Senator” The American Spectator’s Quin Hillyer wrote “South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham is a flop. He pretends to be a conservative, but sells out conservatives and insults them while doing so. He pretends to be effective at reaching across party lines, but the only thing he effectively does is help the other party. He called Ted Kennedy ‘one of the most principled men I’ve ever met.’ In sum, in the words of conservative movement stalwart Richard Viguerie, ‘Lindsey Graham is part of the problem.”

If South Carolina is indeed home to the worst Republican in Graham, we can take solace in the fact that we also have one of the best in Governor Mark Sanford. On the same day Graham was making promises to SC Democrats, Sanford was testifying before Congress, urging them not to waste even more taxpayer dollars on yet another stimulus package. Unlike Bush, McCain and Graham, Sanford opposed the first stimulus package, harshly denounced Wall Street Bailout and is now pleading for the federal government to stop spending taxpayer dollars they don’t have. In other words, Sanford was acting like a Republican.

Graham is worried about nothing but Tuesday. Sanford is worried about tomorrow, and how our kids and grandkids are going to have to foot the bill for today’s reckless spending. Whereas Sanford is despised by many within his own party precisely because he insists on acting like a conservative, Graham’s consistent liberalism has endeared him to elitists in both parties. Sanford remains popular with SC voters, for good reason, and Graham does not, for good reason. When Sanford was in the House, his voting record more closely resembled that of Texas Republican Ron Paul than any other Congressman. Like Paul, Sanford is dedicated to limited government even when his own party is not.

The Republican Party is in awful shape because the most awful Republicans have been in charge of it. Liberals like McCain and Graham must be defeated and disposed of so that conservative Republicans like Sanford, Demint and Paul might once again define the party. Republicans should be fighting against Ted Kennedy, not cosponsoring legislation with him.

My good friends at the Charleston City Paper have officially endorsed Democrats Barack Obama, Linda Ketner, Jim Clyburn and Robert Ford for their respective offices this election. This is no surprise, as the admittedly Left-leaning paper always endorses the more liberal candidate.

And that’s why the City Paper has endorsed Lindsey Graham over Democrat Bob Conley – Republican Graham is a liberal and Democrat Conley is not. Writes the CP: “Lindsey Graham is one senator whose rhetoric doesn’t match his record — and that’s a good thing. Graham has sought compromise in the Senate on some of the most controversial issues, including judicial appointments and, yes, even immigration. Sen. Jim DeMint’s spirited rant against earmarks has been commendable, but it has placed South Carolina at a disadvantage with his refusal to play the Washington game.”

Graham is more than willing to play “the Washington game” – he is the game. Republicans would do well to get rid of the Bush’s, McCain’s and Graham’s and start paying attention to the Ron Paul’s, Jim DeMint’s and Mark Sanford’s. Not because they are better Republicans – but because they actually are Republicans.