Lindsey Graham, stand-up guy


Editorial Page Editor
LINDSEY Graham is a stand-up guy.
    I just thought somebody should say that before sensible, thoughtful folk completely forget about all the hollering we’ve recently heard about his advocacy of the defunct immigration bill.
    The ones doing the hollering won’t forget, or so they say. Remember the Angry White Male, who rose up and swept Newt Gingrich and his cohorts into power in Congress in 1994? Well, that guy is alive and well, and he’s really, really ticked off at Lindsey Graham. And John McCain.
    Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment is being broken all over the place, right over Sen. Graham’s skull. Some sample comments from my blog:

  • “Snake in the grass, closet liberal, supercilious, condescending, I-know-better-than-you-little-people Lindsey Graham. Government is the only business I know of in which the people who run it continually attempt to tell the customers why they’re wrong.”
  • “Lindsey Graham has betrayed his conservative promises and has voted with the liberal democrats 18 times (from Jan 1st through Jul 1st).”
  • “‘Buenos Dias! You have reached the office of Senator Lindsey Graham. Press 1 for assistance in Spanish. Otherwise, hang up you racist bigot. Muchas Gracias!”’

    And so forth.
    Speaking of the blog — I set them off again when I posted a link to an article in National Review that said, “I hope the American people, at least, step back from the obsessive play-by-play pre-season election analysis and reflect on Senator McCain’s actions for what I believe they were: One of the purest examples of political courage seen in Washington in a very, very long time…”
    That was written by Sen. Tom Coburn, who opposed Sens. McCain and Graham on the immigration bill, but had the intellectual honesty to admire the extremely rare fortitude they exhibited in their stance.
    But aside from Sen. Jim DeMint going out of his way to be gracious and magnanimous after crushing this initiative by the colleague who usually overshadows him, there is little appreciation for the quality that Sen. Coburn admired. “Lindsey Grahamnesty was not elected to be courageous,” said one of my bloggers. “He was elected to vote on behalf of the people of South Carolina. If he can’t do that, maybe he should go be courageous somewhere else.”
    But courage is too rare and precious a commodity in our politics for anyone to dismiss it. How long has it been since you saw somebody from South Carolina take a tough, leading position on a major national issue, without regard to the consequences?
    Lindsey Graham is a smart guy, about as smart as they come. Whatever the issue, it is a delight to hear him expound upon it. Does anyone really think he didn’t realize in advance how constituents would react? Even if he didn’t realize the magnitude of this tidal wave of opposition, once it broke over him, did he back off? No.
    That’s doing what you believe is right in spite of the cost. Sens. Graham and McCain have repeatedly demonstrated remarkable political courage, on this and other issues — standing up to the Bush administration on torture, reaching out to Democratic moderates to smooth the path for the president’s judicial nominees. Time and time again, they have done what they believed to be right, and explained their actions with intelligence and conviction.
    Those of you who are so livid right now can dismiss that all you want, but you are wrong to do so. You’re also being rather foolish. The “Gang of 14” deal is what led to John Roberts and Samuel Alito joining the Supreme Court. And dream all you want, you just rejected the one best chance you had of seeing any substantive action on illegal immigration.
    I was dismayed to see the two senators step out on immigration in this way at this time.
After all, the only people who considered illegal immigration to be a front-burner issue were the sort of angry fantasists who believe it’s possible to round up 12 million people who don’t want to be found, and deport them.
    I asked John McCain about it: Why this? Why now? He thought it was important to national security. He said “we can’t have 12 million people in the United States of America who we don’t know who they are or where they are and what they’re doing.”
    Sen. Graham agreed. And nothing was going to stop them; they were determined “to stand on principle, and try to solve problems,” as the South Carolinian puts it at such times.
    I was reminded of how rare principled courage was on this issue (and others) when I called around to local Republicans for comment. I got some good ones — not for attribution.
    “There’s no shortage of plain old racism” in this issue, said one of these brave souls. “God forbid you should say it out loud, though. Lindsey said it out loud.”
    “Courageous? I think it was stupid,” said another. “I think it was the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard of.”
    At the same time, that second tower of strength predicted that the people who keep promising they’ll “never vote for Lindsey Graham again” will do just that, because “nobody worth anything will run against him.”
    Possibly. But the 2008 Senate election may answer once and for all whether, in this finger-in-the-wind putative republic of ours, political courage is the one unforgivable sin.

25 thoughts on “Lindsey Graham, stand-up guy

  1. Nick

    Why applaud or defend someone who blatantly ignored the long-term welfare of this country to pass a piece of legislation that was hastily prepared and clearly a bribe to illegals? I am offended that one would suggest racisism is more at the heart of the defeat of that worthless legislation than good sense is. It was a bad bill which would not have served our country’s best interest.
    In fact, I view it as a bill of cowardice and am most disappointed in the Republican Party for having such a prominent role in it. You can bet that the dynamics of such a blatant disregard of good sense to get an issue off the table for the sake of just getting “something” passed will have consequences in the next election.
    It is not too late for a new tact, but unless one is taken, the heat will be on in the next election.
    Racism may be lurking in the background for some but rest assured it is not for all; and certainly not for me.

  2. walter

    Courage is not the word for Lindsey Graham – Loyalty is more appropriate. Loyalty to John McCain and to special interest money. Do you think the ever loyal McCain disciple Lindsey would oppose McCain on immigration? And do you think Lindsey Graham would have been as arrogant to the voters of SC if he didn’t have $3.5 million in campaign cash, largely from Washington special interests? Loyalty rather than courageous.

  3. les

    Let me count the ways I disagree with you…First, Gramnesty continually hitches himself to McCain (I believe because he thought McCain would one day be president) and supports ideas that are not in keeping with most conservatives. Well, McCain is going down in flames…because, he too is not with us. Next, calling racists those who simply believe in the rule of law is beyond forgiveness. Gramnesty has continually shown his arrogance by repeatedly telling us that he “knows better” than we do. Immigration is just the last straw. Gramnesty is a lawyer and a military judge…he should know better than to call us racists who merely want the laws of this country enforced. By the way, you do not stop illegal immigration at the border, you stop it at the work place. If our legislators were serious about looking out for us, they would strengthen the laws and fund enforcement at the work place. If the jobs dry up, the illegals will leave. Those that stay should be put in prison. That would stop it. Once we strenghen and enforce current law we then could set up a system to allow for temporary workers as needed. At any rate, I will vote for a democrat before I would vote for Gramnesty again. And, only Gramnesty could cause me to do that. I consider him no better than a cheating spouse. We sent him to represent us…not tell us he knows better and we need to adjust. I am adjusting…and, voting (and, working as hard as I can to see him defeated) for someone, anyone, else.

  4. Marshall Lawson

    Leave it to Brad Warthen to pretend that the conquering of the United States by an invasion of illegal aliens is not a “front burner issue.” Of course this delusional, completely ideological comment, shows just how out-of-touch Mr. Warthen and the bulk of the U.S. media are with reality.
    By the way, Mr, Warthen, I don’t know anyone who advocates deporting 12 million illegal aliens. The American people rightly demand, instead, that our government enforce existing immigration laws and secure the Mexican border. Most of the 12 million illegal aliens would self- deport if corporations hiring them actualy feared prosecution for breaking the law and state and federal welfare paymenents to illegal aliens were teminated. Why is this such a difficult concept for you open borders “fantasists” to comprehend?
    But of course, like Lindsey Graham, you don’t care about reality or the truth; you’re too busy shilling for the cheap labor lobby, La Raza (The Race), and corrupt career politicians who elevate greed and personal political calculation above the will and welfare of the American people and the rule of law.
    Neither you nor Lindsey Graham are “stand up guys” if that phrase has any objective meaning.

  5. Brad Warthen

    Hi, Marshall. Everybody, meet Marshall. A lot of y’all are passionate about this issue, but you need to take your hats off to Marshall Lawson, because he’s been out there on this issue for YEARS. He was sending me angry e-mails about it, furious that we weren’t writing about the issue, back when hardly anybody but him even thought of it as much of an issue at all.
    In other words, he was ticked off about illegals when being ticked off about illegals wasn’t cool.
    Anyway, I’m glad to see him on the blog rather than just e-mail, so everybody can join in the discussion.
    I also want to praise him for using his real, full name. At least, it’s the name he’s been using to write to me for years. I’m a little disappointed he didn’t tell us anything else about himself in his profile (click on his name above), but he’s way ahead of Walter and Nick in putting his name behind his thoughts.
    Take a cue from Marshall Lawson, be a stand-up guy (or gal), and tell us who you are. Why should we care what you think, if we don’t know who you are.
    Oh, and for you anonymous and semi-anonymous folks who don’t think Lindsey Graham and John McCain are being stand-up guys on this issue, at least they’ve got the guts to put their real names, faces, futures, and reputations behind what they say.
    How about you? Are you ready to stand up?
    Well, at least we’re talking

  6. Herb

    Well, I liked your column this morning, Brad, and I think that I agree with you. Certainly it is refreshing to have a politician in Washington who votes his conscience, and who faces the issues, and reaches out across the aisle when he can. May God give us more representatives like Lindsey Graham. I am proud that SC sent him to the US Senate.
    Besides, we are too lazy to do the work to harvest our own vegetables–so without these Latin American workers, crops will rot in the fields. Whatever we do (and I agree that we cannot just have a porous border), we have got to realize that our economy is dependent on their willingness to do jobs that most of don’t want to do.

  7. DougRoss

    “After all, the only people
    who considered illegal
    immigration to be a front-burner issue were the sort
    of angry fantasists who believe it’s possible to round up 12 million people who don’t want to be found, and deport them.”
    I wonder if as an editor you would allow this type of hyperbole from anyone else? This became a front burner issue for many people, myself included, when Lindsey Graham decided that 12 million illegal immigrants should have an easy path to citizenship. Instead of calling for enforcement of laws as you would expect a lawyer to do, he called for a massive government program complete with no burden of paying back taxes as a “solution” to the problem. Lindsey moved the issue from the back burner to directly in the faces of his constituents. It’s not a RACIAL issue, it is a LEGAL issue.

  8. DougRoss

    Herb says we are too lazy to harvest our own vegetables. Maybe Herb should do a little research to see if the people paying the illegal immigrants are paying minimum wage, collecting taxes, paying workman’s compensation insurance, paying social security taxes, paying medicare taxes, etc. If the employers are not doing all of the above, then what you are advocating is the support of a lower class segment of society. Amazing. I believe Herb has many times in the past argued that good Christians must follow the rules of the government. Does that not apply to people who employ illegals? Hmmm…

  9. Brad Warthen

    Yes, it’s a legal issue, but so is speeding. People don’t seem to get nearly as worked up about that.
    There is an emotional element in this debate, on the part of the folks who keep demanding that SOMETHING BE DONE, that is missing on the discussion of other issues. The tone of expression used by many of the folks who really get worked up has a very familiar ring. That’s why a lot of people who are listening to it suspect that, as I heard one observer put it, “brown is the new black.” The anger, the resentment, sounds very similar.
    I’m quite sure that most people aren’t being consciously racist. Almost no one in America is CONSCIOUSLY racist these days, of course. I even believe that many people caught up in this fever aren’t racist at all, and are truly bewildered to have that mentioned.
    But those of us who don’t get a fire in the belly when we see poor Mexicans on our streets, those of us who say “OK” when the few centrists left in Washington say, “Let’s address the issue realistically,” and the angry people get even angrier… how are those of us who don’t feel as they do suppose to explain all that passion?
    Yeah, I get it. It’s illegal. It’s technically illegal for the Mexicans who need jobs to come take the jobs that our economy offers them — which sounds to me like the government is trying to make rules that defy market forces. That makes it even more odd that many of the same people who are always saying government should get out of the way of markets are the very ones that want Uncle Sam to come down hard against the market in this case.
    And you know what? I think it’s awful the way their labor is exploited. I think something should be done about that. I think they should be adequately paid, and get benefits, and pay taxes, and not get exploited. That’s what the bill y’all just rejected might have done.
    But no, it always comes back to NOT WANTING THEM HERE. (Not Marshall’s talk about the “invasion.”) Why is that?

  10. Dave

    I wonder if we’re prepared to pay higher food prices if food producers are required to begin paying their workers all the things Doug talks about. Don’t get me wrong, I think Lindsey Grahamnesty is a traitor and illegal immigration should be stopped, but have we really thought about what that will do to food prices? Dave

  11. DougRoss

    So why can’t Congress deal with the issues related to border security and employers exploiting illegal immigrants without having to tie it to an amnesty program? If it’s important, do it. It’s fairly obvious that the component of the bill that Americans rejected was only that piece related to giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. We could do all the rest without that piece and America would be better off. Unfortunately, that would mean Lindsey would have to admit his views were wrong. So we’ll get some pouting and some name calling while they do nothing else to address the issue.
    If you can’t see the difference in impact on the economy and society between an illegal immigrant and a guy speeding on the highway, I can’t help you.
    Dave, studies have shown that if illegal immigrants were paid as they should be, the effect would be a few percentage points of increase in the cost of produce. As for housing costs in the Southeast, I’m guessing we’d see a bigger jump — and that’s not a bad thing as cheap labor here has resulted in lower home prices which has led to the type of sprawl that is choking Richland and Lexington Counties.

  12. Rob

    Lindsey is going to be a stand up guy allright in 08. He is gonna stand up and take a beating, hopefully in the primary, by anybody but Lindsey. He violated the trust put in him by those who voted for him to represent South Carolina. He has big business endorsing him for the cheap labor, even putting ads in the paper endorsing him. Well, us bigots as he called us, will vote and vote him out in 08! He is a traitor to those who voted for him! Congress is the biggest enemy the US citizens have working against us! Time for a change!

  13. Herb

    I was going to answer Doug’s comments, but Brad did it pretty well. Actually, I was commenting on Graham in general, trying to put out a vote for political consensus, and against the polarization that keeps us from getting any kind of legislation done at either the state or national level.
    Yeah, you’re right. Christians should keep the law, but the fact is that labor is needed, and nobody here is going to do it. So we have to adjust somewhere. Besides, my parents used to be involved in relief and religious work among immigrants, legal and illegal. I tagged along, in and out of hovels and shacks that families came to live looking for a better life. If I were in their shoes, I’d go looking for a better life, too, which is why I can’t quite condemn everybody like you guys do. I just can’t. Sorry. I suppose I’m a sucker. I’d rather be a sucker than a stone-thrower, somehow, someway.

  14. Mark Whittington

    No Brad, it’s not racism-it’s the economy and well being of the nation at stake here. Every single black person that I’ve talked to is against this illegal mass migration as is just about every working class white person. The only people who are for it are Chamber of Commerce types and professional liberals (i.e., people in the top 20% who own average wealth and above and who disproportionately benefit from the cheap labor). If you think there is opposition among white folks to this invasion, then check out the opposition in the black community which runs at something like 90% against it. Amazingly, Democratic Party rhetoric is totally at odds with the true sentiments of most democratic voters.
    It just blows me away how you have the audacity to use the exploitation of Mexican workers as a talking point when you’ve demonstrated zero concern over the years for native workers-white or black. Several times, I recall inviting you to speak to native workers over the years, yet you’ve never said a word. The Editorial Page consistently reflects pro Chamber of Commerce, anti worker biases, and well, you’re the Editor. I think you are far underestimating the palpable angst from the former middle class workers. The only good thing from all of this is that ordinary people are getting involved and they realize the need to clean house. I think a big time house cleaning is just down the road, and it’s going to come from the common people. That’s just what this country needs.

  15. Wally Altman

    Brad, I enjoyed this column and I am right there with you on Lindsey. He’s the only reason I haven’t sworn off voting for Republicans forever after six years of President Bush.
    Doug, try going to and see if that works for you.
    The new format is a pain to read, by the way. And if you’re going to pre-moderate comments, what’s the point of requiring sign ins?

  16. Brad Warthen

    Wally, when you’re right, you’re right. What’s the point?
    I’ve fixed the formatting, and ditched the authentication. For now, I’m sticking with the approval thing.

  17. JoeinRidgeway

    “I think they should be adequately paid, and get benefits, and pay taxes, and not get exploited. That’s what the bill y’all just rejected might have done.”
    “Might” have done. Right.
    Did you read the actual bill? Do you know what was in it?
    Such as:
    -immediate amnesty following a 24-hour background check, whether that check was finished or not.
    -amnesty for gang members (who swear off their membership in writing, ha ha).
    -amnesty for those who were (or are to be) deported for committing multiple crimes.
    -shrinkage of the border fence by 600 miles
    -no paying of back taxes by illegals
    -eligibility for earned income tax credit for illegals
    -tuition assitance for illegals
    -legal taxpayers paying for illegals’ legal fees
    And so on…
    Sen. Courageous had so much courage that he and his allies shut down debate of those against this bill during the cloture vote. Tried to shut them up.
    He was also “courageous” enough to call those who didn’t support this bill “bigots”, compared us to “nazis”, and along with Trent Lott, ran down talk radio for daring to actually inform the American people what was in this garbage of a bill.
    Sen. Graham never made – or tried to make – the case for this bill. Never.
    I’m sorry, but this was NOT a case of a politician being “courageous.” It was a case of some politicians trying to buy 12 million votes.
    Can we round up and deport 12 million people? Of course not. But can someone come up with a better bill, one that puts border security first and doesn’t give away the farm in an effort to curry favor? It would be impossible not to.

  18. Judy

    This was a great column. I do believe that Lindsey is a stand up guy and a profile in courage. He is trying to o what is right. I agree with him that there is a whiff of bigotry and racism in the debate over immigration. I also applaud him having the courage to say so. He wasn’t addressing the large majority of people who were more concerned with security or the economy.
    I am proud to have Lindsey as one of one-hundred senators. He speaks his mind and votes his conscience. I don’t always agree with how he votes, but I seek to understand it rather than simply get upset about it. I still criticize what I don’t agree with, but I never attack his character over disagreements.
    When he votes the way you want and special interests support that position has he also sold out? You can’t have it both ways. Either a vote with a special interest period is a sell-out or it isn’t.

  19. bill

    If I hear the term “Gramnesty” again,I think I’m going to scream.There are many reasons why I don’t feel Graham is a “stand-up” guy,but the amnesty bill isn’t one of them.I was in favor of the bill.I live off 378,in West Columbia and frequent the tiendas and restaurants frequently.I’ve made casual friendships with several Mexicans,and their helping me with my virtually nonexistent Spanish.The “we don’t want them here” attitude is palpable for these people.I can feel it when I’m seen with Mexicans.Maybe the bill was flawed,but I don’t think any bill would satisfy people who have racist attitudes.I actually heard a black cashier at a grocery store tell two Mexican men who were buying food for their restaurant to “go back where you came from”.Sound familiar?
    Brad,glad you got rid of Typekey.I read an article by a blogger who said it caused more problems than it’s worth.I think you could improve your blog by not publishing email addresses.

  20. Rob

    I just got back from a four day visit to Catalina Island off the Southern California coast. I had heard it was beautiful.. it was. However, what I hadn’t heard is that it has turned into Mexico. 70% of the population is now Mexican with most being illegal. It was like walking across the border into Tijuana. It was not an enjoyable trip. The stores and restaurants were all run by Mexicans who spoke poor English, didn’t care about being friendly to tourists, and didn’t know anything about the island on which they worked. The rest of the country will be just like this soon thanks to the “courage” of Brad Warthan’s hero Lindsey Gramnesty, McCain, Kennedy, Kyl, Bush and the rest of their ilk who are intent on changing the face of this country. Shame, shame on them!

  21. Frank

    Today I took my two little girls to the public pool here in our town in Texas. The people at the pool were mostly Mexican and not speaking English. When one of them plowed my little one over in the pool I went off on him and he told me (in English) “this is a Latino pool, and will soon be a Latino country”.
    Make no mistake about it. We are under attack.
    You fools better wake up.

  22. Benhazin

    As a 60 y.o. African-American I am in complete accord with those who opposed this amnesty bill. Regardless of the differences Americans of various ethnicities may have , this is still our country and we say who comes and who goes. All senators supporting this bill should go in the next election. As for the illegal Mexicans, they will have to go also. Consider this one logistical fact. 35 million-plus people visit Las Vegas round trip every year. 12 million illegals should be moved out in 3 years of less. Especially after 90 days in the county penal farm as motivation.


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