Noticing the way Graham stands out from the crowd

This is less of a revelation to SC media -- or should be.

This is less of a revelation to SC media — or should be.

Some national writers are taking greater notice of some of the reasons why I’ve always been happy to endorse him.

In a piece headlined “The most interesting presidential candidate you’re not paying any attention to,” Chris Cillizza of The Fix noted that Graham stands out in ways other than the fact that he’s never been married (which has also been getting him some ink).

After noting all the usual horse-race stuff that has Graham well out of the running, Cillizza shares a reason why he should be a contender:

Okay, fine.  But if you stop and actually listen to some of what Graham is saying — particularly on the subject of bipartisanship — you realize that he’s one of the most interesting candidates in the field and one of the few who can genuinely sell himself as a change agent.

Here’s Graham answering a question from “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd about how he would address political polarization in Washington:

I think there’s a market for a better way. When I talked to that young guy there, I said, you’re going to have to work a little longer, pal. If I’m president, I’m going to ask you to work a little bit longer. What do people do between 65 and 67, they work two years longer. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil showed us what to do. I’m making a bet here. I’m making a bet that you can talk about problem-solving in a Republican primary and still get the nomination. I’m making a bet that you can openly embrace working with Democrats and still get the nomination. I’m making a bet that with a war-weary public, you can rally them to go over there and keep the fight over there before it comes here. Now, if I lose those bets it doesn’t mean America is lost, it just means I fell short. To a young person in politics, listen to what I’m doing here and see if it makes sense to you. There is a growing desire by the public at large to stop the B.S. I feel it, I sense it, and I’m running on the idea that if you elect me, I’ll do whatever is necessary to defend the nation. I’m running not as a candidate for a single party but for a great nation.

If you believe the American people when they say they want leaders who are willing to work with one another and take positions because they believe in them not because the policies are popular, it’s hard for me to imagine a better message than that paragraph from Graham above…

Yep. We know that about him. And some of us like that about him, and count ourselves lucky to have him representing us in Washington.

After pausing to recite yet again how slim our senior senator’s chances are, the piece concludes:

To me, though, Graham’s candidacy is a sort of campaign thought experiment: What if politics produced a candidate that had lots and lots of what the public said it wanted but in a somewhat unlikely package (a Southern-drawling lifetime politician) and without the buzz and fanfare that surrounds the so-called “top tier”?

Could a candidate like that possibly hope to break through?

It would be nice to think so.

25 thoughts on “Noticing the way Graham stands out from the crowd

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, Graham isn’t just saying things to appeal to folks in the middle. He’s speaking to the GOP base as well. This moved today:

    Graham Introduces Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) was joined by pro-life and pro-family leaders today in introducing the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the United States Senate.

    Graham said:

    “There are only seven countries that allow wholesale abortions at the 20-week period including China and North Korea. The United States should not be in that club.

    “I don’t believe abortion, five months into pregnancy, makes us a better nation. I look forward to leading this long-overdue effort and pushing for a roll call vote in the Senate.

    “Today is the start of a journey, much like the one we used to pass the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. I have no doubt the legislation will one day be passed by Congress and signed into law.

    “America is at her best when she’s standing up for the least among us and the sooner we pass this legislation into law, the better. We are on the right side of history.”


  2. Doug Ross

    “I’m making a bet that with a war-weary public, you can rally them to go over there and keep the fight over there before it comes here. ”

    I’ll take that bet, Lindsey. How about if I win, you never run for office again? Are you willing to make that bet, Senator? All you have to do is win ONE primary state… just one… even South Carolina.

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Just heard Graham being mentioned favorably again on national media, just a few minutes ago on NPR.

    They were talking about this generation’s crushing student debt, and someone mentioned Graham as one of two Republicans who seem interested in doing anything to make college more affordable. The other was Marco Rubio, who is young enough to have only recently paid off his own law school debt…

    1. Doug Ross

      I don’t mind a solution to student debt going forward but any solution that involves people not paying back the money the borrowed is a non-starter for me. They took the money and spent it. I’ve paid back my loans. My kids have paid back their loans.

      There was a recent op ed in the NY Times by a guy who refused to pay back his loans and counseled others to consider the same option. This was after getting a masters and doctorate from Columbia. He felt that having to take a job he didn’t like to pay back the loans would hurt his ability to be a writer. There is no maximum level of disgust that I could feel for that loser.

      If the loans weren’t so easy to get, the problem would be lessened. If students made sound choices of majors and schools based on their ability to pay and their career potential, the problem would be lessened. If schools stopped throwing money into providing a cool, catered experience, the problem would be lessened.

      1. Mark Stewart

        I kept the last can of store-brand peas that I didn’t eat before paying off my student loans in less than two years. I bought my first TV after paying off those loans as well. Priorities…

        Debt capacity is a great thing; but more important is clearing the obligations as soon as one can – certainly before feeling entitled to other things in life.

      2. bud

        The biggest problem is the ridiculous cost of college, driven largely by greed. Students go to college to try and get ahead but find themselves in a catch-22 position. I’d forgive much of the debt as a means of boosting the economy.

        1. Doug Ross

          Of course you would. Why don’t we forgive all car loans and mortgages, too ? Think of the boost.

          If more student loan debt is “forgiven” isn’t it pretty obvious that lenders will either raise interest rates in the future or stop making loans?

            1. bud

              Agreed. We benefit as a society with a well educated population. It’s also true that under circumstances where the big banks duped people into bad loans the government should help out the home buyers rather than shovel ever more corporate welfare to the diabolical banks.

            2. Doug Ross

              You don’t need to spend $30-$40K per year to get an education. You don’t need to live in a single private room while attending college. You don’t need a food court or world class gym facility to get an education. And you certainly don’t need to take out loans to finance that “education”.

              If you are too stupid to understand the concept of borrowing money and paying interest, you don’t deserve to be in college or own a home.

              1. Kathryn Fenner

                Well, sure. I am appalled that USC has just torn up the sod on the Horseshoe to replace it–right after I had been admiring how green and lush it was. The students don’t know any better, b/c their parents don’t know better, and no one else has taught them. They look at the Horseshoe and go oooohh, not realizing they probably have no reason day to day to be there. They love Strom Thurmond Wellness, etc.
                None of this is a good reason to saddle them with debt for the rest of their lives. There are a lot of good social reasons not to do so.

    2. Mark Stewart

      “Affordable” college is like “affordable” housing. Doesn’t work. Can’t work. Shouldn’t work.

      What is ill-considered is allowing students to be preyed upon by so-called institutions of higher learning, otherwise known earlier as trade and stenography schools, including providing government sponsored debt to cover not only tuition and books, but also living expenses and whatnot. And then Congress has seen in its wisdom to make that debt non-dischargeable, no matter how disreputable the school that supposedly provided some sort of meaningful (or meaningless) education.

      As an aside, the last thing we need to do is make law school more affordable. Well, the last thing AFTER we do something about the trade school crisis.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        The issue is that there are too many seats in law school relative to the high-paying jobs available. Making law school affordable for the few who are most meritorious, combined with a requirement of service to the underserved, as in medical schools, could alleviate the dearth of lawyers serving those who cannot pay the amounts it takes to pay salaries that pay the debt service on loans.

      2. Kathryn Fenner

        Then how come lots of countries in Europe have free university education, including, in many instances, to foreigners. If I had known, I’d have gone to Germany!

      3. Kathryn Fenner

        I believe the feds (us taxpayers) are giving relief to the former dupes of the Corinthian “colleges”….

  4. Phillip

    I read Cillizza’s article, and that paragraph in answer to Chuck Todd is a nice-sounding quote. The problem with Graham is that most of that “finding middle ground” stuff gets completely lost to the national public at large because 95% of the time when he’s been on TV in recent years, it’s been about foreign policy and US military role in the world (covered by national media, that is).

    One could say that’s the fault of the national media for not bringing these other aspects of LG to the fore, but—goodness—-re-read his announcement speech. It sounds like he’s running for Commander-in-Chief and only secondarily for President in the sense of domestic issues.

    And since Lindsey is known in this way to the nation as super-hawk, he has the problem that A) most of the country does not quite have the appetite for an interventionist foreign policy to the extent he would like, but more importantly B) on this he’s not really saying anything different from any other GOP contender save Rand Paul, just variations on “I’ll kill more terrorists” or “bad guys will be more scared of me than any other candidate out there.” He’s not going to come across to even the GOP primary-voting public as a “most interesting Presidential candidate” that way, and certainly not one who stands out from the crowd.

  5. Bill

    Graham is a hypocrite and a phony,and I hate his politics.A gay man who keeps saying he isn’t gay might play in SC,but his act is over on a national stage.He makes John Edwards look like Lenny Welch singing,’Are You Sincere’.

  6. Harry Harris

    Graham was a pretty good trade for Strom Thurmond. That’s about as far as I go in praise. He panders to the religious right on everything from abortion to sex education. He mirrors the bellicose neocons on foreign policy, especially on scary rhetoric. He used to promote immigration policies that businesses favored before he didn’t, and now seems to support again.
    On Social Security reform, he seems to support changes that make it workable for middle class white collar workers while cutting the legs from low-wage and physically demanding laborers. Got news for him – the retirement age is already past 66 and heading for 67 under the earlier “fix.” No big deal for him or me, but a killer for a roofer, many factory workers, hospital orderlies, construction workers, and others with precious little in retirement savings. Delaying Medicare 2 years pushes the youngest (and cheapest) medicare population into the private healthcare pool (or into being uninsured) making them the costliest in that pool. It also puts two years of costly insurance premiums on their plate (likely about $20K) without Obamacare subsidies – and that’s another bone to pick. If he’s a bipartisan guy, why did he vote lock-step with his party on the health care stonewall.

    1. Doug Ross

      In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. When it comes to bipartisanship, Brad admires Lindsey’s vision even though he only has one eye and suffers from cataracts and glaucoma.

      1. Brad Warthen

        That’s what I thought, which was why we endorsed Alex. But I decided later we’d been wrong. I would have enjoyed Alex, but I think Lindsey has been a better senator than he would have been.

  7. bud

    I’ve picked on Lindsey plenty over the years. And for good reason, his foreign policy worldview terrifies me. But the name calling because he’s still a single man goes way over the line. His approach to judicial appointments is refreshing. Doubt that will play well with the base.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      I believe the unmarried are a larger segment of voters than the married….maybe not the never-married, though….


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