Graham hits the wrong note

I was surprised, and disappointed, by this release this morning:

Statement from Senator Lindsey Graham on President Obama’s Health Care Address to the Nation

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made this statement tonight after the presidential address.

“I was incredibly disappointed in the tone of his speech. At times I found his tone to be overly combative and believe he behaved in a manner beneath the dignity of the office. I fear his speech tonight has made it more difficult — not less — to find common ground.

“He appeared to be angry at his critics and disappointed the American people were not buying the proposals he has been selling. The president’s confrontational demeanor increased the emotional and political divide. I hope the President will learn that true bipartisanship begins with mutual respect. Criticism of a public official is to be expected and not all criticism is demagoguery.

“When it comes to the public option, the President is either being disingenuous or misinformed. The public option, contrary to the president’s claims, will eventually lead to a government takeover of our health care system.

“One could easily be led to believe tonight’s speech is the beginning of a ‘go it alone’ strategy. If the Obama Administration and congressional Democrats go down this path and push a bill on the American people they do not want, it could be the beginning of the end of the Obama presidency.”

On a Member of Congress Accusing the President of Telling a ‘Lie’:

“The president’s combative tone did not justify a Member of Congress shouting out ’you lie.’ Our nation’s president deserves to be treated with respect It was inappropriate remark and I am glad an apology has been made.”


I’m proud of Sen. Graham, and of John McCain, for so clearly and unequivocally calling Joe Wilson down for his insupportable behavior. But given that Joe DID what he did, and any commentary on the president’s speech is unfortunately bound to be considered within that context, Lindsey’s release this morning just seems way off-base.

You’re “incredibly disappointed” by the president’s tone? The president was “overly combative?” He behaved in “a manner beneath the dignity of the office?” The president’s demeanor “increased the emotional and political divide?” He’s the one who needs to learn a lesson about “mutual respect?”

Say what?

This was definitely not the morning to release a statement like that.

Such is my respect for Sen. Graham that whenever I find myself disagreeing with him (or Joe Lieberman, or John McCain, or Joe Riley), I stop and think again: Could I be wrong on this? So I analyze my own reaction. I think, Maybe the president was too combative. Maybe I didn’t notice it because I’m so completely fed up with the lies and obstructionism that are threatening to kill our hopes for a decent health care system in this country yet again. Maybe that’s what makes me think the president was, if anything, overly deferential to those who don’t give a damn about our health care, but want to see this issue be Obama’s “Waterloo,” because partisan advantage is more important to them than the good of the nation…

So I run those thoughts through my head, and then I think, Nah, this time Lindsey’s just wrong. That can happen, you know

8 thoughts on “Graham hits the wrong note

  1. Lee Muller

    Obama was combative.

    He repeated used phrases like, “I won’t tolerate…”

    He continually attacked the insurance companies, claiming they were making excessive profits.

    Instead actually offering specific compromises, he talked about how he was not going to yield to the GOP and moderate Democrats, that he would do it without them.

  2. doug_ross

    Lieberman has also said that the Democrats are taking the wrong approach to healthcare reform. He advocates an incremental approach. That would be the wise and prudent thing to do.

  3. Burl Burlingame

    I thought Joe Wilson’s outburst was just hysterical rage at first, but then I noticed that Karl Rove’s immediate reaction was a delighted giggle.
    No, now I think it was a planned and deliberate stunt to get people talking about the stunt rather than the content of the speech. The “apology” was likely written in advance.
    Does anyone really think the Rove boys are incapable of such a stunt?

  4. Santee

    Yes, this time Lindsey Graham is just plain wrong. It did appear that Wilson’s outburst was calculated, which makes it all the more offensive. In contrast, the President was not overly combative, especially given the absurd claims that he must dispel in order to get a reasonable health care program passed. John McCain, among others, seemed to feel that the President was making a serious effort to acknowledge and incorporate their positive contributions to the dialogue on health care.

    Since South Carolina, in particular, has been treated to a remarkable and prolonged display of serious failures of judgment and maturity by its Republican officials, it might be a good time for rethinking strategies and going for something a bit more adult and responsible. Lindsey Graham might want to think about a contribution along those lines, instead of adding to the problem.

  5. kbfenner

    Burl, You are a genius! Joe isn’t hysterical by nature. Quite the opposite.

    Come on, the rest of you–it’s high time Obama took the gloves off and fought the good fight. The right has been playing dirty pool while Obama has been playing by the Miss Manners rule book. He spoke well.

    Lindsay was off base, big time!

  6. martin

    I hope you get to see the clip from today’s Hardball at about :33 time.
    Lindsey is about to applaud to an Obama comment, stops and rubs his hands together instead when he sees the other Republicans are sneering.

    Lindsey has a hard path. He is basically an old fashioned moderate southern Democrat, but the South doesn’t elect that kind much anymore.
    To stay in office, he has to appeal to the lunatic right wing fringe. His schizophrenic position was on display at the Sotomayor hearings. It made the right mad when he voted for her, but I’m sure the pure, unadulterated sexism in his “temperment” questions made him no friends on the left.
    To me, it makes him look bad; too weak and scared of being sent home, he can’t just say what he really believes and let the chips fall where they may.

  7. Lee Muller

    Since most of the HR 3200 proposals don’t take effect until 2012, why the rush to pass something without discussion?

    Just like the rush to appropriate the $1.7 Trillion in deficit spending for “stimulus”: 90% will not be spent until 2010, most of it in the six months before the elections.


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