First, the good news: As the one most thoughtful and principled Republican in the United States Senate — a guy who will fairly consider Democratic court nominees, just as he demands the same intellectual honesty from Democrats with Republican nominees — Lindsey Graham today became the only GOP senator to vote Elena Kagan out of committee.
Sure, some of the Republicans who voted against her and Democrats were voting for were voting their convictions, too, but the only person you KNOW was doing so was Lindsey Graham, because there was nothing in it for him politically. Except for the respect of us UnPartisans, and we’re not that powerful a lobby.
So, for the sin of being thoughtful and intellectually honest and really meaning it when he says elections have consequences and presidents’ choices, if qualified, should be given respect by the opposition, back home the yahoos are lining up to run against Lindsey Graham in the 2014 primary.
Really. Because this is South Carolina, where we don’t wait around for crazy; we grab it by the throat and ride it to death.
And of course the national media, from the MSM to Jon Stewart, have come to expect crazy from us, and have even started trying to anticipate it.
Which is why today, on the very day of the Kagan vote, we already have The Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza speculating about which Republicans will line up to run against Lindsay.
Frankly, I think it’s an overreaction. I suspect that when all is said and done and four years have passed Lindsey will — if he still wants the seat — face only marginal opposition from within his own party. But given what the nation has seen from the GOP within SC in recent months, who can blame Cilizza for compiling this list?
* Katon Dawson: The former chairman of the state Republican party would have the financial network and connections in the state to make a serious run at Graham. And, he may be looking for a next act after losing out on the Republican National Committee chairmanship in 2009.
* Jeff Duncan: Duncan, a state representative, is the odds-on favorite to replace Rep. Gresham Barrett in the 3rd district this fall. (Graham held that same Upstate seat before being elected to the Senate in 2002.) That would provide a real geographic base from which to run in four years time.
* Mark Sanford: Yes, that Mark Sanford. The soon-to-be-former governor has made clear to political insiders that he is interested in a return to politics and targeting Graham in 2014 might give Sanford enough time to rehab his badly damaged image.
* Trey Gowdy: Gowdy is a heavy favorite to come to Congress this fall after he crushed Rep. Bob Inglis (R) in a primary in the strongly Republican 4th district. He gets rave reviews from smart political people in the state but it remains unclear whether the Senate is an office he covets.
* Mick Mulvaney: Mulvaney, a state senator, is currently running against Rep. John Spratt (D) in the 5th district. Win — or even lose — and he’s likely to be in the Graham primary mix.
* Tom Davis: Davis is a state Senator from Beaufort (in the Lowcountry). He’s also a close ally of GOP gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley. If Haley is elected governor this fall, her allies will be in the catbird’s seat for offices down the line.
“Yes, THAT Mark Sanford.” Just sends chills down the spine, doesn’t it? It that man’s political career is not over, then there is no justice in the political world. And between the kind of insanity that has some Republicans who would actually vote for him again (and you know there are a lot of them), and enough people on the Democratic side who would and did vote for Alvin Greene, it would pretty much end my faith in democracy as a positive force in South Carolina.
But you know what’s really awful about this? With Lindsey Graham, South Carolina has the best representation in the U.S. Senate that it’s had in my lifetime. Representation that, for once, we can truly be proud of. And the very idea that anyone would want to take that away from us is appalling.
But that they would be motivated to do so by his acting like a rational human being is what really provokes despair.
Here’s hoping that when all is said and done, this kind of doomsday thinking about SC is wrong. But recent history is not reassuring.
Let’s just say it over and over:
This is nothing but wild speculation from an outsider… This is nothing but wild speculation from an outsider…This is nothing but wild speculation from an outsider…This is nothing but wild speculation from an outsider…This is nothing but…