Graham takes a positive half-step on the flag, needs to do the right thing and take another

After I posted this, challenging Lindsey Graham to step up the way Mitt Romney has on the flag, Kevin Bishop from his office sent me a link to this item on The Hill:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Friday he would welcome discourse over lowering a Confederate flag near his state’s capitol building.
Graham’s remarks followed an emotional vigil that evening in Charleston, S.C., for nine people killed in a mass shooting at a church there earlier this week.
He reversed course following the ceremony, after arguing earlier Friday he would support the symbol remaining at full-mast outside the state capitol building in Columbia, S.C.
“I think it’s a debate that needs to happen,” Graham said of the flag’s future status, according to Fusion.
“We’ll take it up in January,” he added of South Carolina lawmakers. “We’ll see what they want to do.”

Of course, that doesn’t really go anywhere toward a positive result, since we know “what they want to do” on the flag — continue to ignore it.

But it’s a half-step. I look forward to our senior senator moving a little more toward doing the actual right thing.

40 thoughts on “Graham takes a positive half-step on the flag, needs to do the right thing and take another

  1. Peggy

    I don’t think it’s a half step… I think it’s weak. A bold step would be to say he thinks the flag should fly on our state’s capitol ground or not. Then we would know where he stands.

    I personally believe the flag is part of our state’s history and belongs in a museum. The state flag and the US flag should be the only flags flying at our state’s capitol.

  2. bud

    It’s definitely NOT a half step. Now that this debate is underway everyone needs to state unequivacally where they stand. AND NO MORE COMPROMISES.

  3. Mark Stewart

    There will always be compromises, Bud. That’s what we do in life. But we also take stands; and as you say, this is a simple, profoundly important issue where everyone needs to stand up and be accountable for their point of view.

    The first question we must ask ourselves is should the Confederate flag fly at the Statehouse or at any other representative governmental office or site? That’s a binary question. One is either for removal or for the status quo. However, beyond that and how to get to that consensus (either way) is where the sausage will get made. That’s actually beneficial to us all.

    Graham has missed the distinction, however. Those sorts of coy dodges do not satisfy and, more of importantly, only reflect poorly on the spineless pols who try to dance on a pinhead – in everyone’s eyes.

    Everyone, Graham included, needs to answer the question: Should it stay or go? Then, and only then, should we look to the pols to smooth the division created and reconnect us all with face-saving political “solutions”.

    Stay or go, Lindsey. One word or the other. Leadership is first and foremost a responsibility to accountability. Stay or go?

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    It IS a half-step, but only that.

    The standard GOP response whenever anyone has brought up the flag for the past 15 years has been, “That’s a settled issue; we settled it with the ‘compromise’. No point talking about it.”

    The half step is admitting it’s NOT settled, and we SHOULD talk about it.

    But yeah, the full step is to do what Romney did. It would mean a great deal more coming from Graham.

    1. Michael Rodgers

      Gov. Haley, it seems to me from viewing this full video, has also made this half step to accept — and perhaps even to require — a conversation instead of to shut it down. She may end up leading on this issue. Here’s my transcript of what she said about going forward, after she described what happened in the Legislature 15 years ago.
      Gov. Haley said, “While a lot of issues are going to come up, my job as Governor is to bring everybody back together. We’ve got to heal. This is a state that’s broken. And this is a state that’s hurt. And so what you’re seeing is we’re trying to pull that together.”
      Gov. Haley continued, “If they want to have this conversation again, they will. They had it 15 years ago. They came to consensus. That’s where it was. I think they’ll have another conversation, and we’ll bring people together. My job is to make sure the conversation happens and it happens in a way that’s thoughtful and it happens in a way that we stay together as South Carolinians and continue to have good respect for each other.”

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Well, she has come a long way from her first remarks after the shooting, in which she appeared oblivious to the racist motivations.

  5. Karen Pearson

    I respect Mr. Romney for his position. He’s catching a lot of flak for it. It is a brave stand. Senator Lindsay is not showing any such bravery. Apparently he thinks it’s ok to fly a flag that has flown so proudly at KKK gatherings and lynchings. Does he want to be identified with the same flag Roof flew?

  6. SBS

    He may not want to be identified with that flag, Karen. But he has to bow to his masters — those that actually owned (and apparently still do) people like us.

  7. Brad Warthen Post author

    Here’s the thing with Lindsey… Yeah, it’s a political risk for him, especially since the flag lovers hate him so much anyway. It’s not like he’s Strom Thurmond or somebody else who would have weight with them, and be forgiven if he took the full step.

    But he should do it anyway. Here’s why:

    — He just got re-elected. He doesn’t face re-election for five years. The fringe already did their worst last year, and couldn’t touch him. He’s got the juice to do this.
    — No other statewide GOP leader has taken a stand. He’s the most likely of them to do so. He needs to do it.
    — Yeah, he’s running for president. And you know what? Other GOP candidates are getting out ahead of him on this. The obligation he has, as the only candidate from South Carolina (and therefore the only one with standing in this debate, because it is indeed OUR thing, our problem, our decision to make), is enormous. He’s out there representing South Carolina on the national stage like no other Republican. He has the power to show we are better than that flag.
    — It’s the right thing to do, and he’s smart enough to know it. Others may honestly believe the absurd arguments used to rationalize that flag’s presence, but Lindsey Graham knows better.

  8. Michael Rodgers

    And the full step should be taking down the flag, pole, fence, and lighting and giving Glenn McConnell his nylon flag as a retirement gift to thank him for his service to the state (the other flags went to the museum in 2000).

  9. Karen Pearson

    Sen. Graham needs to remember that as a presidential candidate other state’s voters will be judging him, voters who aren’t rural South Carolinians, and whose confederate flags (if they ever flew one) came down awhile back. How’s that for a good political reason?

  10. DougT

    Tim Scott dodged the question this morning on Face the Nation. I shouted language at the TV I shouldn’t be using on a Sunday morning.

  11. Doug Ross

    It wasn’t a half step by any stretch. It was a delay tactic..he knows if this doesn’t happen soon, it won’t happen.

    He’s never let me down in his ability to put politics over taking action. He’s a phony. Always has been, always will be.

    Has anyone from the media contacted Hugh Leatherman yet? ?

  12. Doug Ross

    Here’s what we need in the next week. ..Front page of The State newspaper with a photo of every member of the state legislature divided on the page by those who are for keeping the flag up versus those who aren’t. Call every one and ask them for a yes or no. Anyone who won’t say gets labeled as Chicken.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        That is the coolest widget, and I think we can learn a lot about our officials from it. I mean, surely they saw this coming and might have queued up a response?
        Unless they need a weatherman to tell them which way the wind is blowing….

  13. bud

    Well Brad, you got your way. We’re talking about a symbol rather than any real issue. We could be talking about gun violence. Poverty. Tangible racial injustice. Or the death penalty as an offshoot of the tragedy at the AME church. Perhaps its unavoidable. But let’s not praise Lindsey Graham for behaving like a pandering politician.

    1. Scout

      But symbols do matter. 9 people are really dead. Because they were in a symbolic location. Because a symbol emboldened and legitimized (in his eyes) their murderer. Symbols are powerful.

      Talking about a symbol is worthwhile.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Exactly. In fact, it is reported that the shooter said he almost didn’t go through with it, b/c in the event, in real life, they were so nice to him.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Bud, the symbol IS about as real as an issue can get. And it’s one we can do something about, if we can only overcome the adamant resistance to doing the right thing.

      White Republicans are deliberately flying that flag in the face of protests because they CAN. It’s about forcing one’s will upon the minority. You, of all people, should be more outraged about that than anyone.

      Your attitude is quite puzzling.

      1. Mark Stewart

        This is South Carolina; people are masters of holding dichotomous belief’s without the least bit of cognitive dissonance affecting them.

        Or so it is believed – until the day it is not.

    3. Karen Pearson

      Bud, taking down that flag is a very important first step. It says that this state will no longer pander to the racist subset of the conservative community. Until we say that by removing that symbol all the words in the world will sound like no more than “yadda, yadda, yadda” in and/or from this state.

  14. Kathryn Fenner

    I just feel so bad for Senator Pinckney’s family on this Father’s Day. I think he was the only victim who was the father of minor children.

  15. Karen Pearson

    The flag has nothing to do with these murders? Roof didn’t think so given it’s prominence in many of his pictures.

  16. Phillip

    Besides rallying, calling/writing Haley & legislators to encourage them to show moral leadership, we should also make sure to heap praise (again, via calls, emails, social media) on the few who have changed their tune on this, like Rep. Brannon. They are no doubt getting some very nasty pushback from some constituents, so they need to know that their political courage is not taken for granted, no matter how obvious the “right thing to do” may seem to many of us.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You’re absolutely right! We need to encourage him, and a whole lot more like him.

      His email address is At least, that’s what Project Vote Smart has. If you try to get him through the State House web site, instead of an email address you get one of those stupid message forms that institutions erect as a way of saying, “We don’t want you bothering this guy.”

      I think I’ll put up a separate post on this…

      1. Bob Amundson

        Thanks for the email address. Just sent this message: “Courageous Leadership. Thank you.”

        It’s nice to see courage rather than pandering to ensure re-election.


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