WTMA commentary broadcast 6/10/08:
Over the last few days I have been receiving a good bit of campaign material from Senator Lindsey Graham in my mailbox. A few items feature Lindsey sitting in a military helicopter smiling, with captions like “a leader who refuses to back down.” Apparently, Lindsey believes his position on Iraq is something worth bragging about – and he’s got the pictures to prove it. Another mailer had me laughing out loud – it’s a picture of a border fence with Lindsey superimposed on top of it. Says Graham “illegal immigration is an economic, social and national threat.” It appears Lindsey “Grahamnesty” now wants us to think he’s tough on illegal immigration. First he thinks we’re racist, now he thinks we’re stupid. And the last mailer I received just yesterday. It’s a picture of Lindsey standing tall, encouraging South Carolinians to “vote for our conservative values” on June 10th. Good call Lindsey. I’d love to vote for a conservative – which is exactly why I won’t be voting for you.
Lindsey Graham represents the worst aspects of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. In the May edition of The American Spectator, Quin Hillyer summed up Graham beautifully; “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 inhabits the Senate seat of Strom Thurmond, legendary for great attention to his South Carolina constituents, but Graham spends most of his time trailing behind John McCain like a valet as McCain criss-crosses the country in pursuit of the presidency. 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.”
Hillyer couldn’t be more right. Living in the heavily military state of South Carolina, I have always found it particularly disgusting how politicians like Graham insist on using our soldiers’ sacrifice as a cheap campaign tool. Instead of constantly questioning the wisdom of continuing to put our troops in harm’s way, men like Graham instead question the patriotism of those who do have concerns, even implying often that the entire military agrees with him politically. Or as Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart recipient Senator Jim Webb practically yelled at Graham on Meet The Press last summer “the one thing I really take objection to politicians who try to put their political views into the mouths of soldiers.” In response, Graham meekly mentioned his many trips to Iraq. Said Webb “You haven’t been to Iraq, Lindsey… You go see the dog and pony shows, that’s what congressmen do.”
Webb’s right. I got the picture in my mailbox, of Lindsey posing for the cameras in his fatigues, trying to look tough. It doesn’t suit him well.
As evidenced by the passage of serious anti-illegal immigration legislation in Columbia last week, it is clear that most South Carolinians are desperate for something to be done about our broken borders. Our state leaders, to their credit, have stepped up to the plate.
The same cannot be said of Graham, who not only as a U.S. Senator has contributed to the gross incompetence in Washington on the issue, but was willing to sell out his country and his state to corporate and political interests by promoting amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. Adding insult to injury, when Graham said in a speech before the National Council of La Raza that opponents of illegal immigration were “bigots,” he was describing the overwhelming majority of South Carolinians who put him in office.
I was present at the Republican presidential primary debates in Myrtle Beach last January, which were held not long after amnesty bill went down in defeat on Capitol Hill. The heavily Republican audience was abuzz with anti-Graham sentiment, and to my far left sat Lindsey, who hardly broke his gaze from the stage, seemingly avoiding eye contact with anyone. His recent campaign mailers portray Graham as strong and confident, but that night he unquestionably looked like a whipped dog.
And Lindsey still knows he’s in the doghouse. Richard Todd has invited every candidate running in today’s election to make their case here on The Morning Buzz, and Graham has yet to return Richard’s phone calls. I’m not surprised. Being on The Morning Buzz means answering listeners’ questions, and I’m quite sure Lindsey simply doesn’t want to hear what many of you folks might say to him.
Is this any kind of a leader? Is a Senator afraid to face his own constituents even worthy of his office? And is a politician who constantly votes against the interests of his own state and his own country any kind of a statesman?
In all likelihood, Lindsey Graham will probably secure his spot as Republican Senatorial nominee in today’s election. This doesn’t change the glaring, infuriating and demonstrable fact that he damn sure doesn’t deserve it.