Why didn’t Graham, McCain and the Bushes stand up?

File photo

File photo

Lindsey Graham sent out this release yesterday:

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham on the 2016 Presidential Election

November 9, 2016

“Secretary Clinton’s concession speech, like President-elect Donald Trump’s last night, was appropriate in tone and substance.

“She should be congratulated on doing her part to bring about healing of our nation and setting the right tone in terms of working with President-elect Trump.  All Americans should follow her counsel and try to work with our next President.  I intend to do so.  President-elect Trump will need all the help he can get given the many challenges we face as a nation.

 “Secretary Clinton ran a hard fought campaign and I genuinely wish her well.”


“Secretary Clinton ran a hard fought campaign and I genuinely wish her well.” Yeah, uh-huh, OK. So… Why didn’t you help her?

As I said in a response to a comment from Phillip

I’ve long had a lot of respect for Sen. Graham, and for John McCain, as readers of this blog will know. I’ve endorsed them, stuck up for them — a lot.

But I’m kind of ticked at both of them right now.

They’re part of that large group of Republicans Who Knew Better — and failed to lead in this election.

These are guys who have exhibited a lot of courage in the past, but that was not in evidence this year. They both failed to do the one thing that might have helped — stand up and declare that they were voting for Hillary Clinton, which was the only way to stop Trump (who they knew was a nightmare), and urge others to do the same.

I know why they didn’t — they wanted to keep getting elected, and a Republican most likely can’t do that after saying he’ll vote for someone the party despises so much.

But as much as I want both of them in the Senate, stopping Trump was more important. I suppose it’s human nature — human weakness — that they didn’t see it that way.

But if anybody could have done it, it would have been them. Anyone who paid attention could see that they both worked well with her when she was in the Senate. There was mutual respect there. Their willingness to step over the partisan boundary to try to get things done together made me feel better about all three of them.

They really should have stood up and told the truth, instead of playing along with the fantasy on the right that she was just as bad as Trump, if not worse.

At least they had an excuse, though. What’s the excuse of the two President Bushes? Their political careers are over. Both probably DID vote for Hillary. They should have come out and said so. What stopped them? A desire to protect Jeb’s political future? WHAT political future?

I suspect that all of them thought she was going to win anyway, and didn’t need them to step up.

Well, if so, they were wrong

42 thoughts on “Why didn’t Graham, McCain and the Bushes stand up?

  1. Claus

    Graham – Spineless suck up
    McCain – Thought they were going to have pudding for desert.
    Bushes – I- thought the same as McCain, II – was just glad nobody was blaming him

  2. Lynn Teague

    Nationally the ability of the Republican Party to get enough votes to win is apparently contingent on keeping the whole coalition together, from principled small government conservatives to the KKK. So, the good of the party or the good of the nation? Oh well. Too bad, nation.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      The Democrats have won the popular vote in six out of the last seven Presidential elections…

      Remind me why we (still) have an electoral college?

    2. clark surratt

      Haven’t you heard, Lynn? I read it in the N.Y. Times. The Republican Party has imploded and is incapable of anything.

    3. clark surratt

      Haven’t you heard, Lynn? The Republican Party has imploded. It is not capable of controlling anything. I read it in the N.Y. Times.

  3. Mike F.

    The line about intending to work with the administration is cute since he’s got a comfy spot on the Trump Enemies List.

  4. Walter3

    McCain had is race and Graham worked all over the country to help Republican’s hold the House and Senate. Not voting for or supporting their party’s presidential nominee on principle is one thing, but asking them to actively support the nominee of the opposing party is a bridge too far. And you know it.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I “know it,” in the sense that I know that’s important to them.

      But in my book, stopping Trump was FAR more important.

      Of course, I’m a prejudiced witness — I wouldn’t lift a finger to help either party capture or retain Congress.

      But let me ask this: the party they were being loyal to doesn’t exist anymore. What’s replaced it is highly unlikely ever to elect people like them again. They haven’t left the party; the party has left them.

      So what good has their party loyalty done them or anyone else? And in what way was it more important than saving that same party, and infinitely more importantly the country, from Trump…

  5. bud

    I guess you could get upset with McCain the Bushes and Graham in a sort of philosophical way but having them stay out of the way was probably more helpful to Hillary than having them out there actively campaigning. What cost Hillary the election more than anything was her failure to hold the Obama coalition together.

    It appears that Trump may actually end up with fewer votes than Mitt Romney so the notion that he found all these new white voters does not seem accurate. Instead Hillary failed to get a good turnout, falling 5 million behind Obama in 2012. Several factors played a roll in reducing her turnout. First, and most important, she failed to connect with Bernie voters. Since I was one I feel somewhat qualified to address this. I’ll never forget the revulsion I felt when Hillary made a play for the old neocon warriors. Then, as Doug has pointed out, the whole debacle with Debbie Wasserman Shultz and the perceived slight to Bernie. Shultz should have gone much sooner.

    Second, the entire focus of Clinton’s campaign was on the temparment issue. That’s very important but she focused so little on economic issues. That allowed Trump to come across as the guy for the people by default. It seems ludicrous and I will never understand why people bought into a billionare who doesn’t pay income taxes is somehow their guy but they did. But apparently folks want someone to be their champion. Brad will point out how people should vote for the good of the country instead of their own self interest but they don’t. The sobering reality is that candidates just need to pander to this self interest. Bill Clinton was very good at that, Hillary, not so much.

    Third, clearly the Republican effort to suppress the vote was effective. In places like North Carolina and Wisconsin and maybe Pennsylvania Republicans succeeded in making it more difficult for young, Latino and especially black voters to cast a vote. That’s probably why Hillary under performed the polls in those states. Polling in Florida was actually quite accurate. Pretty much everyone had that as a toss up so I’m not completely buying the “polling failure” narrative. But North Carolina specifically was also a toss up but Trump ended up winning by 4 points. A pretty big miss. Wisconsin was even worse. All these voter Id and restrictive early voting laws clearly hurt Hillary in some states that ended up being close losses. Democrats are going to have to find a way to work through these barriers.

    Fourth, sadly bigotry in this country still exists. Perhaps not a huge factor but there were probably a handful of white voters who found a champion in the bigoted rhetoric of Donald Trump. These reactionary thinking people replaced a large portion of the few white college educated white Republicans who ultimately defected to Hillary.

    And finally, the Comey effect. The email factor was the last impression in late deciders minds as they went to the polls. This was enough to convince people that Hillary was just as bad as Trump.

    Minor factors were the ACA premiums; the shear nastiness of the campaign that tended to turn off more Democrats than Republicans; the relative success of third party candidates and a heavy turnout from the KKK.

    1. Doug Ross

      ” and a heavy turnout from the KKK.”

      Please quantify the number of active KKK members in the U.S. And then explain which states they had any impact on.

      The KKK is as meaningful in 2016 as the Black Panther party. Just a distraction for the other side to use as an excuse.

      1. bud

        The card carrying members of the KKK played just a tiny roll, and that’s the way I meant that. And if you read my entire post you’d understand my point. The various other alt-right, Breitbart types also played minor roles. Combined these various bigoted organizations were not the most important factor and I dodn’t claim that they were. But it is irresponsible to dismiss them as non-existent in today’s culture. Wake up people these groups are itching to have more power and their guy is Donald Trump.

          1. Lynn Teague

            And now alt-right guru Bannon has been appointed to a policy post supposedly equal to Chief of Staff. The alt-right has won their new power.

    2. Bart

      Overall a good analysis bud but the KKK reference is a bridge too far. The KKK is as relevant to any local or national election as a fly is on an elephant’s butt. They simply do not have any clout at any level other than the need for a reporter or journalist to have something to write about. I lived in an area where the KKK was once a powerful force. But the good people of my county ended their cowardly acts in the early 60s when they tried to intimidate the Lumbee Indians. The tables were turned and the KKK as never held another rally in my hometown since.

      I also read that the black voters were far less enthusiastic about Clinton and were not overly interested in voting for her so they stayed away from the polls in large numbers. One can legitimately ask the question why they turned out in great numbers for Obama but not for Hillary? I cannot answer but I can speculate but won’t get involved in speculation when I don’t have an answer.

      Donald Trump is the figurehead of the underlying anger and dissatisfaction of the so-called silent majority. He was not the object of their affection anymore than Clinton but he wasn’t Clinton and if I am going to engage in speculation based on comments from some very intelligent and educated Trump voters, they were voting against the “establishment politicians” in Washington and Hillary was the poster picture for the political apparatus the Trump supporters dislike so much.

      It is my personal opinion that we need to step back from the edge, take a deep breath, relax and do some serious examination of what happened and how do we move forward to prevent this from happening again. I know going forward I will listen to both sides of an issue and not engage in name calling, overly emotional responses, and identity politics.

      We don’t know how Trump will conduct himself once in office. I was not and still am not an Obama fan but I do like the man and respect him because he is the POTUS and he was elected by the people of this country.

      The anger, vitriol, angst and anguish, name calling, and unhinged reactions need to stop and redirect the energy expended demonstrating, threatening, and creating civil disorder into productive endeavors. Instead of burning, looting, and destroying, use that energy to build, create, and do something positive. Stopping traffic on a busy interstate is not a positive thing and only creates more division and anger.

      Don’t you think we have had enough this over the past 16 years?

      1. bud

        Give folks a few days then resignation will set in. Democrats are grieving. But these outbursts are happening on both sides. I’m currently watching news reports of alt right mis behavior.

  6. Karen Pearson

    I doubt the KKK by itself did much damage, but them, Aryan Nation, Christian Identity, and all the other alt-right organizations add up to a fair number of folks.

    1. Bart

      Why not do some basic math on several popular misconceptions about the impact of Fox News and the Aryan Nation, KKK, Christian Identity, and alt-right organizations. The population of the US is over 315 million people.

      The average number of daily Fox News viewers is approximately 2.4 million, the combined number for ABC, CBS, & NBC averages between 22 & 23 million viewers each day. This does not include MSNBC, CNN, HLN, CNBC, PBS, and other news shows. I think the numbers speak loud enough to give even a reasonable person to consider that if 10% of viewers is watching Fox News, how is it that such a small number can exert so much influence over the 90% in the general population of 315 million?

      Aryan Nation and Christian Identity have an estimated 35k to 60k members not counting the scattered other fringe groups. Now ask yourself how such a small number, .019%, have such a major influence on a national election or even a state or local election? If the other alt-right organizations combined with the Aryan Nation, Christian Identity, KKK, and a loose estimate of alt-right organizations totaled 250k which I think is a large overestimation, it would still come to .08%, less than 1% of the entire population of the US. Again, how is it that such a small percentage has so much influence over 99.92% of the population? But if you want to exclude everyone except whites in the equation, the current white population is approximately 66.8 million and using the same number of Aryan, etc., the percentage increases to .375%, still less than 1% or anywhere close to being of any significance. Even if you take half the white population and consider them to be of voting age, it is still less than 1%.

      Using these discontents and self-aggrandizing hate groups as the convenient scapegoat or someone to blame is no different than others using a similar percentage of Hispanics to blame for the problems in the country and paint all Hispanics with the same brush.

      But I guess we need someone to blame, don’t we? Blame the blacks and Hispanics for the drain on the economy because of their reliance on the government to support their lazy butts and pay for the illegals and their criminal actions once across the border. Blame the older white males for all of the problems and wrongs of racism, chauvinism, white privilege, intolerance, and all of the other grievances committed in the US from the time the Pilgrims landed. Yeah, find your particular demographic to blame, convince yourself if not for these people, things would be a lot better.

      It is easier to blame others than it is to examine our own attitudes and actions influenced by others who feel, think, and believe as we do. Find comfort in surrounding yourself with your “tribe” and sit around and talk about how all of the other “tribes” are responsible for most if not all of your troubles. Blame all of the troubles on one network that draws less than 10% of a daily viewing audience of approximately 25 million viewers but forget that the three major networks draw 90% and the other cable news networks draw a smaller percentage than Fox but they still have their devoted viewers who hang onto every word they say the same as the Fox viewers do.

      As I grow older, the more my eyes are opened to what is going on around me and I increasingly find it amazing how we as a species are able to identify one or maybe two things we don’t agree with and they become the convenient scapegoat for all of our problems.

      I don’t watch Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, or any of the other news networks unless something like a hurricane, earthquake, or other news lede unless it is something that affects all of us. Otherwise, it is local news, plus I glean the internet, read articles from the NYT, WaPo, MSN, Yahoo!, and a few other sources and then decide for myself, not letting someone behind a desk interpret the news for me.

      1. Claus

        Bart, nobody wants to hear about factual information. We’re too busy arguing about how the KKK got Donald J. Trump elected.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        “I don’t watch Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, or any of the other news networks…”

        I’m certainly with you there, Bart. I’ll watch a debate or other major live event, but I’m as likely to do that by streaming from a news webpage as I am to watch actual TV.

        I read. And if I need to see actual video of something — if I feel the need to SEE something I’ve read about — it’s always easily available on YouTube or somewhere. Seriously, if the video is worth watching, it will be on newspaper sites.

        Reminds me of a pet peeve. I do most of my reading at breakfast, which as y’all know is in a public place. So I REALLY hate it when I click on something on a newspaper app, expecting text, and instead a video pops up and starts playing automatically, disturbing the people around me.

        Give me video when I ask for it — when I’m at my desk, with headphones on — not when I don’t.

        One of the more irritating things about modern life is everyone assuming you WANT to watch TV, everywhere you go — in waiting rooms, in elevators, even at gas pumps…

      3. Norm Ivey

        “The average number of daily Fox News viewers is approximately 2.4 million, the combined number for ABC, CBS, & NBC averages between 22 & 23 million viewers each day.”

        No point in comparing the combined viewing numbers of 3 broadcast networks to the viewers of a single cable network. No cable network comes close to any single broadcast network.

        How many racists are not members of any hate group?

        1. Bart


          Will respectfully agree to disagree with you. The point is that combining the viewing numbers of 3 networks that broadcast the news in the same time slot on a daily basis vs. one cable news network is legitimate and since the villain network is Fox, then how can anyone explain how this one network is so influential.

          Racists are across the board nationally and they exist in all walks of life whether it is economic, social, geographical, or political party. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the Democrat party has its fair share of racists as well. I know first hand many Democrats who will vote a straight party ticket and publically support the party but in private, their racism is as heinous and open within their own circle as any avowed openly racist group.

          That is one of the many things my eyes have been opened to over the years. Another is the false impression that the so-called liberal or progressive states and cities have shown me more racist attitudes than I thought possible after being “indoctrinated” by the propaganda that racists are toothless, uneducated, illiterate, louts, hicks, rednecks, or any other of the traditional adjectives to describe one.

          The use of the “N” word in NYC, Long Island, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and many other of our progressive cities is used in private conversations by some of the wealthiest liberals I have ever met during my travels. What is amazing is that once they hear a genuine Southern accent, suddenly the mask comes off and their true nature is revealed because many are under the misguided impression that a Southern accent automatically equates it to being a racist. I won’t portray everyone I met or dealt with that way but I can assure you there are a lot more closet racists than you can imagine and they don’t all live in the South.

          1. Bart

            “Another is the false impression that the so-called liberal or progressive states and cities have shown me more…” Should read, “Another is the false impression that the so-called liberal or progressive states and cities are not racist but have shown me more racist attitudes…”

          2. Norm Ivey

            I’m not really disagreeing with you, Bart. I don’t think Fox is any more influential than the broadcast networks, but to make that comparison serves no purpose. To my mind it’s apples and oranges. Perhaps a more appropriate comparison would be to compare Fox with MSNBC because both appeal to more a narrower segment of the population. I guess it’s the scientist side of me that reacts to that.

            And the question about racists was rhetorical. I agree they are everywhere. And they always will be. It’s up to us who wish not to be vessels of hate to call it out when we see it, even when it appears in our loved ones. Or ourselves.

            1. Bart


              I agree it is apples to oranges but when apples outnumber oranges by the margin viewers of network news (apples) vs. Fox cable news (oranges) and so much of the blame for the rancid and poisonous attitudes are blamed on Fox, I think it fair to call attention to the disparity and unfounded claims that Fox is the main culprit. That is the point I was trying to make.

              Thanks for your reply, always appreciated. Hope you and yours have a great weekend and put the week behind us for a couple of days.

      4. Brad Warthen Post author

        Another thing Bart said I can identify with: “As I grow older, the more my eyes are opened to what is going on around me…”

        Funny how we keep doing that. Some of us, anyway. That’s kind of what I was on about yesterday when I offended Bill (something I seem to do quite a bit) by being patronizing toward those, as I put it, “extremely young women” who were explaining “white privilege” to us.

        I think it fails to occur to a lot of well-meaning young people that we knew what they’re trying to tell us LONG ago, and that we still know it, and that we now actually know other things that take us further down the road and modify that original knowledge, and that we might actually get a little impatient with people who are still congratulating themselves for the original insight. They can’t see that, because they haven’t gotten that far…

        1. Bart

          I find that with my two adult children with Masters Degrees are still discovering what my wife and I have known for decades but being loving and caring parents, we let them correct us, smile, and move on. It is gratifying they are not stagnating like so many do and they continue to grow on all levels. Sometimes they surprise, amaze, and astonish us when they explain how they view events and they do not agree with how we view them. We listen and have changed our minds and attitudes about some issues of the day. We are not afraid to admit when we are wrong and no topic is off the table if either one or both want to talk about anything and everything. That is a problem in all too many homes, no real communication between children and parents. Not the BFF kind of communication and conversation but the important things in life and the other thing is that we never belittled or ignored either one when they had something they believed was important to discuss or express an opinion. They knew and still know how much we respect them but they also understand that when they were still at home, we were their parents first and foremost and that truth remains today.

          But the basic tenets of morality, truth, honesty, courtesy, consideration, and caring for others was instilled in both and they use what they have been taught in everyday life. They are our legacy and we are blessed to be their parents.

      5. bud

        Bart I’m not using the alt right folks as scapegoats. Dang I thought I was crystal clear that THE biggest reason Hillary lost was her alienating Bernie voters. All else is small. But the alt right groups want a larger role and they see Trump as a vehicle. I would be remiss if I didn’t at least suggest they played a small role in Trumps victory.

  7. Bryan Caskey

    Off topic, but what the heck:

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place: and in the sky
    The larks still bravely singing fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the dead: Short days ago,
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved: and now we lie
    In Flanders fields!

    Take up our quarrel with the foe
    To you, from failing hands, we throw
    The torch: be yours to hold it high
    If ye break faith with us who die,
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields

  8. Harry Harris

    Plenty of blame to go around, but most of it flows to Democrats. As a younger DNC staffer shouted it to Donna Brazille, (paraphrased) “you old hacks messed up, helped elect Trump, and my generation will feel its effects, not yours.” I think he said she would die on Social Security and a pension, and he would suffer the effects of environmental degradation.

  9. Herb

    Being an evangelical and living in a country now that is not sympathetic to evangelicals, but still concurs with some of their views on certain social issues (and thus I meet up with pockets of Trump sympathizers where I don’t expect it), it occurs to me that a major factor in this election that non-evangelicals (on this blog?) probably don’t understand: the recognition received for gay-rights and the continued support for abortion rights during the Obama administration–which very much galvanized opposition to the Democratic party among evangelical voters. I don’t agree with their vote–for one thing social issues rise up from the general populace, not from one particular party, and my fellow evangelicals don’t seem to understand that–Trump will not help them one bit, unless of course he nominates a SC judge in order to placate them. Add to that this frenzied nonsense about trans-gender, etc., and a failure to be nuanced in thinking, (Oh that Franklin Graham would at least read evangelical historians like Nathan Hatch and Mark Noll) and we have the basis for a very strong, but largely ill-informed (sorry, not meant to be condescending), reactionary movement. This will change as a younger generation of evangelicals and the children of evangelicals rise up through the ranks (but for educational reasons?–probably not), but for the time being, I see it everywhere at home–not just in the churches, but in the barber shop and all over the place. Of course ‘home’ for me in the U.S. is SC, about as ‘evangelical’ as it gets. As an alumnus of an evangelical college, i was dismayed to watch it practically ‘endorse’ a Republican candidate this time around (the first time it has ever done this, though thankfully not Trump, but still telling of the thinking of the leadership). Some might argue that this Southern stuff, and not a factor in the Rust Belt, but look at the rural areas of the Rust Belt–they are still–I will bet, though not on any basis of sociological research–pretty strongly evangelical. I’ve seen it in Wisconsin, Ohio, and PA–Illinois and Indiana as well.
    So all the wordiness aside, I think social issues played a huge role here. The changes of the last 8 years were too much for this group to take, and they revolted and went to the ballot box.


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