Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Elephant Dung #7: Lindsey Graham lashes out at capitulating Republicans

Tracking the GOP Civil War

By Michael J.W. Stickings

(For an explanation of this ongoing series, see here. For previous entries, see here.)

Sen. Lindsey Graham, once the Robin to John McCain's Batman, is hardly much of a Republican spokesman these days, but he nonetheless carries some credibility with the media as a bit of a maverick willing to speak out against his party. Which he did yesterday:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) lashed out at fellow Republicans Tuesday for a "capitulation... of dramatic proportions" to Democrats and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in the lame-duck Congress.

Graham said Republicans have no one to blame but themselves for allowing ratification of the New START Treaty and other legislation in the period before new lawmakers are sworn in in January.

"When it's all going to be said and done, Harry Reid has eaten our lunch," Graham said on Fox News radio. "This has been a capitulation in two weeks of dramatic proportions of policies that wouldn't have passed in the new Congress."

Capitulation? Really? Yes, there have been a couple of high-profile Democratic victories, but DADT repeal, for example, is widely popular, including in the military. The new START may soon be ratified, but, as Fred Kaplan notes, "the treaty's text contains nothing objectionable in substance." So is Graham opposed to the health-care bill for 9/11 First Responders? If so, is he saying that providing much-needed benefits to these courageous men and women amounts to political capitulation?

So what else? The tax deal? Yes, that's seen as capitulation by the far right. The DREAM Act? Well, the GOP stood firm against that. The omnibus spending bill? Republicans killed that. What else is there? The food safety bill?

What's going on here? Obviously, Graham, trying to secure himself against attacks and challenges from the Tea Party right back home in South Carolina, is positioning himself as an extremist partisan opposed to any and all compromise with Obama and the Democrats -- much like Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. (So much for all that bipartisan work Graham did on a comprehensive climate/energy bill. Remember that?)

So maybe it isn't all that significant, in terms of the coming GOP Civil War, that Graham is lashing out at his fellow Republicans for personal political reasons. If a tree falls in the forest and all that.

But it's amusing nonetheless.

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Even more amusing, in a not-so-very funny sort of way, Graham demanded that Democrats apologize to fellow Republican Jon Kyl for moving ahead on START ratification:

I stand here very disappointed in the fact that our lead negotiator on the Republican side... basically is going to have his work product ignored and the treaty jammed through in the lame duck. How as Republicans we justify that I do not know. To Senator Kyl, I want to apologize to you for the way you've been treated by your colleagues.

Oh please. Such immature posturing. Greg Sargent:

Seriously? Senators who have agreed to ratify New START before the end of the lame-duck session are doing this because they've been asked to by the President of the United States, the military leadership, all the living secretaries of state under Republican presidents, and a whole range of national security experts across the political spectrum. They are doing this after more than a dozen public hearings and countless private briefings from military leaders and White House officials who did everything they could do address their concerns. They are doing this because they are persuaded that it is in the national security interests of the United States and is necessary to maintain global stability.

Yet Senators who are voting to ratify New START because they believe it's the right thing to do should feel apologetic to Kyl for defying his wishes, even though the evidence is overwhelming that Kyl's objections have been thoroughly addressed? Yeah, right: It's an absolute outrage that these Senators are prioritizing their own sense of what's right for the country and the world, over the influence, standing and fragile ego of a single fellow Senator.

Unreal.

Alas, all-too-real. It's the Republican Party, after all.

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