Graham outgrowing his roots

By Reggie Ecarma • October 28, 2009
Published by the Greenville News

Fresh from a 67 percent GOP primary victory and the first state candidate to win more than 1 million votes in a general election, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham sounded confident, if not cocky, at the Greenville County Republican Convention this past April. He said that he wants to grow a center-right party, which reflects the country, to win elections. And if some Republicans didn’t support his efforts, they could leave.

He recently echoed this sentiment at the Furman University town meeting, saying if they didn’t like his efforts to build a big-tent party they could leave, according to The Greenville News.

Question: If Graham is growing a big-tent center-right party, why is he telling a vocal and engaged group of Republicans and Libertarians to leave? Doesn’t center-right include centrists and rightists, and a “big-tent” imply a shelter large enough for all?

With all his heroics, Achilles has a weakness. Graham’s great victory last year revealed that his heel is his hometown region, the Upstate. As the biggest part of the Upstate, Greenville County voted against Graham in the primary. The 200-vote margin by Buddy Witherspoon should be a warning to Graham, perhaps humbling.

Instead of being grateful to have the privilege of serving his home folks, Graham is becoming arrogant like Lonesome Rhodes of “A Face in the Crowd” fame. As an arrogant centrist, he is outgrowing his humble conservative Seneca roots.

Both The Greenville News article, “Graham vows to challenge ‘radical’ views,’” and the editorial, “Sen. Graham holds his own,” miss the critical “constitutional” point: Graham says that he is conservative. Fair enough, but on big constitutional issues, he is center left. Consider these landmark issues:

1. Constitutional option on judicial nominees of 2005: the leftists and the centrists, including Graham, opposed it; constitutional conservatives supported it.

2. Illegal immigration of 2006-07: the center-right and center-left and far-left supported the Kennedy-McCain–Graham bill; constitutional conservatives like U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint opposed it.

3. Climate change 2009: Graham is working with far-left U.S. Sen. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat; constitutional conservatives oppose any new regulation on carbon emission whether by legislation or by the EPA.


4. Sonia Sotomayor’s 2009 vote for the U.S. Supreme Court: Graham and other centrists and leftists voted for the nomination, conservatives like U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions opposed.

To be fair, Graham is a reliable pro-life vote. He is strong on military issues and voted against President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill. Also, as reported by The Greenville News , Graham has an 82 percent conservative rating.

But such common-ground decisions have moved Graham from right to center left.

With the immigration and constitutional option issues, he took the center-left ground, along with his partner and Senate mentor, John McCain.

But in the Sotomayor vote, even centrist and maverick McCain voted in opposition, while Graham voted for Obama’s judicial “empathy” nominee.

Colluding with liberals is a prominent project for Graham. Furman political science professor Danielle Vinson said Graham “needs to get past those headline-grabbing moves.”

As reported, Clemson University political science professor, David Woodard, a one-time Graham confidant, said Graham makes “a point of his foray across the aisle to work with Democrats.”

Obama said: “The easiest way to get 15 minutes of fame is to be rude to somebody.” Conversely, for a Senate Republican, the easiest way to get 50 months of national fame is to continually work with liberal Democrats.

Ironically, Graham feels a responsibility “not to let the president have it both ways here.”

Perhaps, the libertarians and constitutional conservatives feel the responsibility not to allow Graham to have it both ways either — calling himself a conservative at home and then taking opportunities to grab national headlines by forging liberal leaning bills.

Apparently, Graham is more a pragmatic political opportunist than a principled, constitutional conservative.

By 2014, Graham will be feigning right to re-establish his conservative credentials, but by then, his Achilles heel may be overly exposed by YouTube, Facebook and Google.


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