Folks, this is really embarrassing. Throughout our history, U.S. senators have not exactly been known for modesty. Fritz Hollings, for instance, was no shrinking violet. Being one of only 100 in the country, with some pretty weighty constitutional responsibility, can go to one’s head. Add in the tradition going back to ancient Rome, and you have a formula for bombast.
But I have never heard or read of any one senator taking upon himself such a megalomaniacal presumption as what Jim DeMint has taken upon himself with this latest move:
U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., in an extraordinary move, has warned the other 99 U.S. senators that for the rest of the legislative session this year, all bills and nominations slated for unanimous passage must go through his office for review…
Normally, senatorial ego is limited by the understanding that there are 99 others just like you, which is the wellspring of senatorial courtesy. The notion that the world does not revolve around YOU is something that we start teaching our children as we’re trying to get them beyond the Terrible Twos. Most of us pick up on it by the time we reach the age of majority, at least to some extent.
But if Jim DeMint had ever been familiar with this concept, he has forgotten it.
Contrast this obnoxious cry of ego, if you will, to the quiet way that Lindsay Graham has worked behind the scenes to have a salutary effect on foreign policy since the election of Barack Obama. Despite the imperative of satisfying his left wing, I keep seeing Obama do things in Afghanistan and elsewhere that show a marked pragmatism, a reassuring wisdom. And apparently, Sen. Graham is one of the main reasons why:
A new book by The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward describes U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham as playing a central role in the formation and execution of President Barack Obama’s war policy in Afghanistan through his close ties to Vice President Joe Biden, Gen. David Petraeus and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
The book by the former Watergate reporter, Obama’s Wars, contains vivid and previously undisclosed portrayals of Graham’s closed-door conversations and confrontations with Obama, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other key figures.
Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. troops in Iraq who now holds the same post in Afghanistan, describes Graham as “a brilliant and skillful chess player” whom the general admires for his ability to navigate the power channels of Washington.
Talk about your polar opposites — the ball hog vs. the guy who just wants to make sure his team wins. And his team (and this might come as a shock to Jim Demint) is the United States of America, NOT the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, which Sen. DeMint seems to think is his country.
Consider the case of Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, the new Republican kingpin and enforcer on Capitol Hill. DeMint claims he was misquoted by Bloomberg Businessweek last week as saying that his goal for the next Senate is “complete gridlock.” But you’d never know it from the way he’s behaving during the Senate’s do-nothing, pre-election legislative session. DeMint makes no apologies for saying that there’s no place for bipartisan compromise or consensus or some “watered-down Republican philosophy,” as he put it. For DeMint, this is war. The only acceptable outcome is total victory, and any Republican who dares to disagree will be treated as a traitor during the next election cycle.
I’ve never been more proud of Lindsey Graham, or more embarrassed by Jim DeMint. This moment has been coming, but I never suspected it would go this far.