You’ve probably heard about this by now:
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Sen. Lindsey Graham on Friday endorsed Jeb Bush for president, a major get for the former Florida governor who has struggled to gain traction in the contest.
In a press conference here, where the two stood side-by-side, Graham praised Bush, calling him a thoughtful and pragmatic figure who, unlike many of his rivals, had the experience to be president. At one point, Graham offered harsh criticism of Sen. Marco Rubio, saying that he wasn’t ready for the White House.
“I think Marco Rubio will be president of the United States someday,” Graham said. “I like him. But I wasn’t ready to be president at 44.”
Bush, Graham said, “is ready to be a commander-in-chief on Day One.”…
Umm… that doesn’t sound all that “harsh” to me. It’s not even inconsistent with the big pat on the head he gave Rubio last year, calling him a “son of Ronald Reagan.” That spurred speculation that he might back Rubio. But sons are not necessarily always ready to fill the roles of their fathers.
This makes sense for Graham. The only choices for him were Bush, Rubio, Christie and maybe Kasich. And of them all, Bush comes closest to the kind of traditional conservatism that would appeal to Graham and to South Carolina Republicans — or would have, before they lost their collective mind when Donald Trump started running.
It’s like Graham is saying to fellow Republicans — this is the guy I prefer, and he’s the one y’all would prefer if you weren’t under the influence of red kryptonite, or whatever’s gotten into you.
As for the first objection most people will have — But Bush can’t win! He’s out of it! He’s missed his chance! — that wouldn’t bother Graham. As he said at his availability in Columbia last week, there are two ways to approach choosing someone to endorse, or vote for — getting onto the bandwagon of someone with momentum, or choosing the person you honestly think would do the best job if he did get elected.
And I was thinking during the debate last night, as Bush failed yet again to get the sort of traction that would help him gain lost ground, he was the one guy on the stage who didn’t say anything really strongly objectionable. He plays the quiet, Father Knows Best role in the crowd — maybe not the most fun guy, but somebody you could trust to run the government while you’re busy living your life. The sober, stolid type who may be boring but isn’t alarming.
Which is saying something these days.