One thing Graham definitely is NOT is dumb…

salon graham

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.

15 thoughts on “One thing Graham definitely is NOT is dumb…

  1. Burl Burlingame

    Actually, the question McCain wanted answered was ALREADY answered. He had missed it because he had been cc’d on it instead of being the head responder. It had gone to Sen. Levin.

    Now McCain (and his Mini-Me, Graham) are filibustering the nomination because they say Hagel was critical of Bush during the Iraq invasion.

  2. die deutsche Flußgabelung

    Seriously when Graham talks you are thinking “This guy is smarter than I am!?”

    I bet Eve felt the same way about the snake right before she ate the fruit and God cast the couple out of Eden.

    1. die deutsche Flußgabelung

      Graham is the epitome of political opportunism. He likes to play the part of statesman but look at his record and you see just how beholden to nuts in his party he really his. Point in case: the fact he couldn’t even vote to reinstate the Violence Against Women Act, because God forbid that lesbians, Native American women, and female undocumented immigrants be treated like “normal” women under the law. Graham is the most effete politician in this state.

        1. die deutsche Flußgabelung

          Thats exactly my point. So are you arguing we should praise politicians for voting in ways that protect them and not for voting for whats right? If he had ein paar Nüsse he would standup against the raving lunatics on the Right, but alas Lindsay is ein Wallach. I stand by my original description of Graham as effete. Inglis does not have that problem and I respect him for that.

  3. Phillip

    Of all Graham’s faults, lack of intelligence is generally not one of them (although I think his supposed knowledge on foreign affairs is way overblown, and his lack of grounding in world history and his relative provincialism does show up at those moments). But if you follow Salon’s link on that phrase “all about feelings,” THAT piece from 2010 really gets at the core of something fundamental about Graham’s character. There is something inside him that will cause him to reverse field on his own positions if he feels slighted somehow or if things don’t unfold according the script as he has exactly designed it. You increasingly see this in his interviews, a sense not just of indignation but actual personal pique. The clue is when his voice starts to rise and get squeaky. Something’s gone off the rails with this guy, and I think it doesn’t always have to do with actual policy disagreements or tacking to the right for political reasons.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Well, now you’re talking about a procedural rule of the Senate, not the Constitution. If the Senate (by their own rules) can’t get to the point were they cannot consent, then there is no consent.

        Whether or not you should change the Senate’s internal procedural rules is an entirely different topic. What is not arguable is that the filibuster is part of the the current rules.

        Shorter response: Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

  4. bud

    Maybe dumb is not the proper term just stubborn. Until folks like Lindsay Graham can acknowledge that Irael is just another nation, no more or less important than the Congo or Equador then we will continue to be seen as an enemy in the Arab world. It’s time we get behind some kind of UN resolution that gives the Palestinians there own state on the west bank along the lines of the 1967 borders.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    Israel is vastly more important than Congo or Ecuador in terms of world politics. While I do believe we are excessively favorable to Israel, there is no denying its importance.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Thank you, Kathryn. I didn’t want to have to address that again.

      Hey, I lived in Ecuador for longer than I did anywhere else when I was a kid, and I know full well that its importance in world affairs is several degrees of magnitude behind that of Israel, regardless of what you think of Israel.

      I’ve always bemoaned the fact that Latin America gets such short shrift in this country. But I have to face the fact that Israel is a huge factor in critical issues bearing on global security, and Ecuador is not.

      Although I was kind of excited when an op-ed piece in the WSJ recently was devoted entirely to the wicked doings of Ecuador’s current president and apparent caudillo-for-life wannabe, Rafael Correa. When you’re Ecuador, that’s about the only way you get international attention — when your leaders act out.

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