Say what you want about the increasingly ubiquitous Lindsey Graham, Salon was way off the mark today when its header featured an unflattering photo of our senior senator next to the teaser hed, “Hagel’s dumbest enemies.”
Of course, as is often the case with such hyperbolic come-ons, the actual headline that the teaser linked to took it down a notch: “The increasingly ridiculous Hagel opposition.” The subhed, situated atop huge mugs of Graham and John McCain, begins, “Republicans block a vote for no reason…”
The very first paragraph of the body copy then refutes that (boldface added):
Sen. Graham and his best friend John McCain have been blocking the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Defense secretary, because they want to know whether President Obama called the president of Libya the night of the Benghazi attack. While that’s not a very good reason to filibuster a Cabinet nominee, it is at least “a reason.” The White House has complied, giving Graham and McCain what they want. Graham’s response: Now he is just going to pointlessly delay the Hagel vote, because it will make him feel good. As always, with Lindsey Graham, being a senator is all about feelings.
Disagree with Graham — and McCain — all you want, but making him the poster boy of the “dumbest” is, well, pretty stupid.
I find a lot of the indignation on the left about delaying the Hagel nomination a few days a little on the disingenuous, even absurd, side. My least favorite manifestation of this is when I hear a Democrat express absolute mystification that these Republicans could possibly be objecting to Hagel, since he’s a Republican. There is no mystery as to why this is a Republican Democrats love. and Republicans have problems with him for the same reasons.
There are actual substantive reasons to question this nomination. We could start with his having been completely wrong on the Iraq surge. Which is kinda relevant in a candidate for SecDef. But then, of course, we’d have a whole other argument that we’ve had too many times before…
So never mind all that. I don’t call the president “dumb” for wanting a guy who looked at Iraq the way he did. I have more respect for the president than that.
But there’s a bigger reason I wouldn’t call Barack Obama dumb: I’ve heard him speak. And the same goes for Lindsey Graham.
I was speaking to a class at Lexington High School yesterday, and I let slip a comment that always makes me sound arrogant when I say it, but it’s true: It’s pretty unusual for me to interview a political officeholder in South Carolina who makes me think to myself, “This guy’s smarter than I am.” But I’ve had that thought more than once when talking with Lindsey Graham.
And I may have a host of faults — correction, I do have a host of faults — but being dumb isn’t one of them.