I’ve been too busy to watch Nikki Haley’s confirmation hearing for the U.N. job today.
But maybe some of y’all have had time to pay attention. If so, please share your thoughts and I’ll try to catch up later via comments…
I’ve been too busy to watch Nikki Haley’s confirmation hearing for the U.N. job today.
But maybe some of y’all have had time to pay attention. If so, please share your thoughts and I’ll try to catch up later via comments…
Some excerpts from Lindsey Graham’s appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday:
All I’m asking [President-elect Trump] is to acknowledge that Russia interfered [in our election] and push back. It could be Iran next time, it could be China. It was Democrats today, it could be Republicans in the next election….
Our lives are built around the idea that we’re free people, that we go to the ballot box, that we have political contests outside of foreign interference. You can’t go on with your life as a democracy when a foreign entity is trying to compromise the election process. So Mr. President-elect, it is very important that you show leadership here….
We should all – Republicans and Democrats – condemn Russia for what they did. To my Republican friends who are gleeful: you’re making a huge mistake. When WikiLeaks released information during the Bush years about the Iraq War that was embarrassing to the administration, that put our troops at risk, most Democrats condemned it, some celebrated it. Most Republicans are condemning what Russia did, and to those who are gleeful about it, you’re a political hack. You’re not a Republican, you’re not a patriot. If this is not about us, then I’ll never know what will be about us. Because when one party is compromised, all of us are compromised….
Donald Trump’s insistence on doubting intel indicating that the Russians tried to tip the election in his favor is a remarkable instance of his flaws coming together over one issue.
Combine his lack of faith in people who obviously know more than he does (a large set) with his inferiority complex (in this case, his touchiness over the suggestion that anything other than his own wonderfulness won the election for him), and you have a guy willing to sacrifice the nation’s intelligence-gathering apparatus for the sake of his own fragile ego. This, of course, takes petty self-absorption to a level previously unseen in U.S. history.
Which is, you know, a pretty good illustration of why it was utterly insane for anyone to consider for a moment voting for him to be president of the United States. But that’s water under the bridge, right? This is the irrational world in which we now live.
I was a bit encouraged when I saw this headline leading The Washington Post this morning: “Trump’s criticism of intelligence on Russia is dividing Hill GOP.” An excerpt:
McCain will hold a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday on “foreign cyber threats” that is expected to center on Russia. Intelligence officials — including Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., Defense Undersecretary for Intelligence Marcel J. Lettre II and U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers — will testify, and some Republicans are hoping they will present evidence that Russia meddled in the elections.
“The point of this hearing is to have the intelligence community reinforce, from their point of view, that the Russians did this,” Graham said. “You seem to have two choices now — some guy living in an embassy, on the run from the law for rape, who has a history of undermining American democracy and releasing classified information to put our troops at risk, or the 17 intelligence agencies sworn to defend us. I’m going with them.”
Graham was referring to Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder accused of helping Russia leak emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee….
Unfortunately, it’s not much of a split, going by this story. So far, it looks a bit like another case of John McCain and our own Lindsey Graham standing on the side of reason and national security, and too many others cowering, unwilling to tell the incoming emperor the obvious: that he has no clothes, and that it’s not a good look for him.
Sure, McConnell has spoken up in the past, and Marco Rubio might get on board with McCain and Graham. And Paul Ryan, bless him, had the presence of mind to call that Assange creep a “sycophant for Russia.”
But only time will tell whether the GOP Congress will live up to its obligation to check and balance the absurdities of our president-elect…
Lindsey Graham has had politely positive things to say about most of Trump’s Cabinet picks so far. But he wants some answers from Rex Tillerson about his buddy-buddy relationship with Putin:
Graham on Tillerson Nomination to Serve as Secretary of State
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on Rex Tillerson, being nominated to serve as Secretary of State.
“Mr. Tillerson is a talented businessman with a great deal of international business experience.
“I look forward to meeting Mr. Tillerson and discussing his world view – especially his views of the US-Russian relationship. Based upon his extensive business dealings with the Putin government and his previous opposition of efforts to impose sanctions on the Russian government, there are many questions which must be answered. I expect the US-Russian relationship to be front and center in his confirmation process.”
Remember all those assurances that, thanks to our system of checks and balances, Trump wouldn’t be able to harm the country all that much?
Well, as much confidence as I place in Hamilton, Madison et al., I’ve thought that was too phlegmatic by half — a modern president can do a great deal of harm, even unto the destruction of the planet, before Congress can get its thumb out of its, um, ear.
And, over the weekend, some observers — including The Washington Post‘s duty conservative, Jennifer Rubin — were beginning to wonder whether the GOP Congress would ever develop the guts or inclination even to try to contain him.
As it happens, there were encouraging signs yesterday and this morning.
First, my two fave senators, Graham and McCain, stood up to both Trump and Putin:
Two Senate Republicans joined demands for a bipartisan probe into Russia’s suspected election interference allegedly designed to bolster Donald Trump as questions continue to mount about the president-elect’s expected decision to nominate a secretary of state candidate with close ties to Russia.
Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) — the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee — joined calls by incoming Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Armed Services ranking Democrat Jack Reed (R.I.) for a thorough, bipartisan investigation of Russian influence in the U.S. elections. Their statement came two days after The Washington Post reported the CIA’s private conclusion that Russia’s activities were intended to tip the scales to help Trump.
“Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American,” the four senators said in a statement on Sunday morning. “Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyberattacks.”…
Of course, the headline on that story noted that the GOP leadership remained “mum” on that point.
I’m happy to note that Sen. McConnell has now been heard from:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday strongly condemned any foreign interference with U.S. elections and announced that the Senate intelligence panel will investigate Russia’s suspected election interference.
“The Russian are not our friends,” McConnell told reporters at a scheduled year-end news conference….
This is encouraging. It doesn’t make me think things are hunky-dory, but it’s encouraging…
I thought this was an odd response from Lindsey Graham to the news that Trump was dropping the idea of prosecuting Hillary Clinton:
On Reports President-elect Trump Will Not Pursue Clinton Investigation:
“Well so much for ‘Locking Her Up’ I guess. The bottom line is that I think the Clinton Foundation, the whole mess, should be looked at with an independent view, not a political agenda. I never believed Obama’s Justice Department would seriously look at what she may have done. I can understand wanting to put the election behind us and heal the nation, but I do hope all the things President-elect Trump said about how crooked she was – well, we just don’t let it go without some serious effort to see if the law was truly violated. I think that would be a mistake.”
I find it odd for several reasons, including:
All of that adds up to it being weird for him to go “Are you sure you want to do that?” when Trump, of all people, is willing to let it go — possibly at the price of loss of favor among a lot of the folks who voted for him.
Oh, and as long as I’ve got you, I should share the other topic he addressed — Jeff Sessions. Here’s a quote, and it’s all on the video below, two-and-a-half minutes in:
On the Nomination of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General:
“I’ve known Jeff for twenty years. I think he’s a principled conservative. I’ll have some questions for him before the Judiciary Committee. These attacks on his personal character, about him being some kind of closet racist or what he may have said thirty or forty years ago is complete garbage. Jeff Sessions is one of the finest people I have ever known. I don’t think there is a hateful bone in his body. We have some policy differences so I’ll be glad to challenge Jeff where we disagree, but support him in terms of him being a good, decent man. And to my Democratic colleagues, you better watch what you do here.”
Since I haven’t had time to write a real post today, I’ll share this from Lindsey Graham. It might prompt some discussion:
Graham Statements on Possible Trump Cabinet Appointments and Supreme Court
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made these statements today about former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Ø On Rudy Giuliani or John Bolton as Possible Nominees for Secretary of State:
“The overwhelming majority of Republican senators have the utmost respect for Rudy Giuliani. He led the nation and New York through 9/11. He’s a citizen of the world who is eminently qualified to serve as Secretary of State.
“As for John Bolton, he was United Nations Ambassador under President Bush. He is a reformer who would turn the State Department upside down and make it work better. He understands who our friends and enemies are. We see the world in very similar ways.
“I believe an overwhelming majority of Republican senators would support either candidate and some Democrats would too. You will never convince me that Giuliani and Bolton are not qualified to serve at this level.”
Ø On Senator Rand Paul’s Threat to Filibuster Giuliani or Bolton:
“You could put the number of Republicans who will follow Rand Paul’s advice on national security in a very small car. Rand is my friend but he’s a libertarian and an outlier in the party on these issues. The fact that Senator Paul opposes Bolton and Giuliani will not keep them from serving.”
Ø On South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as Possible Secretary of State:
“She’s done a good job as Governor of South Carolina. She’s talented, capable and would do a good job in any assignment given to her. I think Nikki is a traditional Republican when it comes to foreign policy – more like Ronald Reagan than Rand Paul. I like her a lot. I would certainly support her.”
Ø On Ted Cruz for the Supreme Court:
“We are replacing Justice Scalia, who was probably the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court. Ted Cruz is a constitutional conservative in the mold of Justice Scalia. If you are looking for a Scalia-type figure, Ted Cruz fits the bill. We have had our differences, but even his worst critics cannot say Ted Cruz is not one of the smartest, most gifted lawyers in the country. If you are looking for someone like Justice Scalia to serve on the Supreme Court, take a look at Ted Cruz.”
And what’s wrong with that? We might even applaud it, were Trump a normal POTUS-elect. Of course one chats with foreign leaders after winning the election, and of course one expresses hope for good international relations, even “resets.” Kumbaya, and all that.
But since we had ample evidence during the election that Trump is putty in Putin’s hands, and since Putin’s international goals include expanding his territory toward more Evil-Empirelike boundaries and propping up Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it’s quite natural to be creeped out by such an otherwise vanilla headline, because it tells you that it’s already begun.
Fortunately, people who know better than Trump are serving notice they won’t stand idly by while this bromance develops.
First there was this:
Sen. John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent his first shot across the bow of President-elect Donald Trump’s national security plans Tuesday, saying that any attempt to “reset” relations with Russia is unacceptable.
“With the U.S. presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States,” McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement released by his office.
“We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America’s allies and attempted to undermine America’s elections,” he said….
Then, McCain’s pal Lindsey Graham weighed in:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said he wants Senate hearings to investigate whether Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered in the U.S. election, casting doubts on President-elect Donald Trump’s desire to improve relations with Russia.
“Assuming for a moment that we do believe that the Russian government was controlling outside organizations that hacked into our election, they should be punished,” Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill. “Putin should be punished.”…
They are hardly alone, as the House demonstrated yesterday:
On Tuesday, the House passed a bill imposing mandatory sanctions on anyone that financially, economically, or technologically supports Syria’s government in the civil war there – a category that chiefly includes Russia and Iran. Trump’s supporters didn’t stand in the way, and the measure was passed unanimously.
“Regardless of perspectives on Syria, there’s some unanimity of opinion in sending a message on this kind of conduct,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said prior to the vote….
Here’s the part where we find out whether we should have believed all those reassurances we heard from Republicans about how our checks and balances would rein in the inevitable foolishness of a Trump administration…
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…
We’ve seen some impressive moves lately by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan in recent months: First, he wouldn’t, then he reluctantly did, now he’s steadily creeping, step by step, day by day, back toward “wouldn’t.”
A decision Monday by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to not campaign with or defend Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump through the November election sparked a public feud with his party’s standard-bearer within a matter of hours, suggesting that a widening split within the GOP could reverberate long after the presidential race is decided.
Ryan’s move — and a blunt assessment of the race that he and other congressional leaders delivered during a conference call with House GOP lawmakers Monday morning — underscored the perilous choice Republican officials now face in the wake of Friday’s release of a 2005 videotape in which Trump made lewd comments about women:
They can remain in line with their nominee, which would please their base but could alienate swing voters critical to maintaining their hold on Congress. Or they could renounce Trump and offend Republicans eager for a direct confrontation with Hillary Clinton and her husband.
For his part, the speaker — who canceled an appearance with Trump after the videotape surfaced Friday — did neither. He won’t publicly campaign with Trump, but he also did not rescind his endorsement of his party’s controversial nominee or back away from his pledge to vote for him….
That’s today, three days after he refused to appear at one rally with Trump. What will he do tomorrow?
Meanwhile, since I didn’t take note of my man John McCain’s abandonment of the Trump cause over the weekend, let me to do so now:
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement today withdrawing his support of Donald Trump:
“In addition to my well known differences with Donald Trump on public policy issues, I have raised questions about his character after his comments on Prisoners of War, the Khan Gold Star family, Judge Curiel and earlier inappropriate comments about women. Just this week, he made outrageous statements about the innocent men in the Central Park Five case.
“As I said yesterday, there are no excuses for Donald Trump’s offensive and demeaning comments in the just released video; no woman should ever be victimized by this kind of inappropriate behavior. He alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences.
“I have wanted to support the candidate our party nominated. He was not my choice, but as a past nominee, I thought it was important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set. I thought I owed his supporters that deference.
“But Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy. Cindy, with her strong background in human rights and respect for women fully agrees with me on this.
“Cindy and I will not vote for Donald Trump. I have never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate and we will not vote for Hillary Clinton. We will write in the name of some good conservative Republican who is qualified to be President.”
Not that a write-in accomplishes anything in terms of stopping Trump, but at least he’s not backing the guy anymore.
Oh, and in case you missed it, there was this Tweet from our own Lindsey Graham:
Name one sports team, university, publicly-held company, etc. that would accept a person like this as their standard bearer?
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 8, 2016
Not that there is a general stampede away from Trump on the part of Republicans in general. Far from it. But their arguments in defense of him are started to get a bit… strained.
Here’s Jeff Sessions’ attempt:
So, there’s that…
While the rest of us are busy listening to a tacky, self-absorbed huckster conjugating the verb “to f___,” there are real things going on out in the real world.
Leave it to our own Lindsey Graham to notice:
Here’s a news story on the subject.
Speaking of intemperate speech…
This is in The Washington Post today:
After long and arduous negotiations, Israel and the Obama administration have agreed on a landmark military aid package that would increase U.S. aid to Israel over the next 10 years. But the White House is reluctant to sign the deal because officials are upset one leading lawmaker won’t go along: Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).
The new agreement, which officials say would raise Israel’s annual package of military aid from $3.1 billion to $3.3 billion starting in 2018, is a complicated deal that both the White House and the Israeli government badly want to announce before President Obama leaves office, and preferably much sooner. A senior administration official described the deal as “the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history.” It’s Obama’s parting attempt to establish a legacy of strong U.S. support for Israel’s security. The negotiations on the memorandum of understanding (MOU), as it is known, have been finished for several weeks.
But before announcing it, the White House wants to make sure that Congress won’t undermine the deal by going its own way on aid to Israel. Graham, the chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees the foreign affairs budget, has already marked up a bill that would give Israel $3.4 billion next year, more than the number the White House negotiated.
The administration hasn’t complained to Graham directly; it told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about its problem, and he talked to Graham about it in a phone call last month. But in Graham’s view, Congress has no obligation to agree to the deal, given that it was not included in the negotiations….
I can understand Lindsey Graham being irritated at the Obama administration for enlisting Bibi to lobby him. He is right to say, “If they don’t like what I’m doing, they can veto the bill.” I can also see his objection to the administration trying to steer the appropriations process, a legislative prerogative.
But I don’t appreciate him saying this to the prime minister of Israel: “Tell the administration to go F themselves.”
That’s uncalled-for, and I expect better from him.
OK, vacation’s over and I’m back in the saddle, and we are in mid-outrage over the latest deeply offensive nonsense from Donald Trump. And, as is so often the case, the most pointed criticism is coming from leading members of the party that nominated him week before last for POTUS:
Already, the party’s leaders in the House and the Senate have distanced themselves from Trump’s remarks, and other Republican figures are attacking their nominee forcefully.
Sen. John McCain issue a very personal statement Mondaay blasting Trump’s comments about the Khans and paying homage to their son Humayun’s sacrifice. McCain noted that his son also served in the Iraq War and the McCains have been serving in the US military for hundreds of years.
“It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party,” McCain said. “While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.
“Lastly, I’d like to say to Mr. and Mrs. Khan: thank you for immigrating to America. We’re a better country because of you. And you are certainly right; your son was the best of America, and the memory of his sacrifice will make us a better nation — and he will never be forgotten.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said in a statement: “This is going to a place where we’ve never gone before, to push back against the families of the fallen. There used to be some things that were sacred in American politics — that you don’t do — like criticizing the parents of a fallen soldier even if they criticize you.”
“If you’re going to be leader of the free world, you have to be able to accept criticism. Mr. Trump can’t,” Graham said. “The problem is, ‘unacceptable’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.”…
As I noted last week (you’ll recall that I did spend most of my evenings blogging despite being on holiday, because I’m just that kinda guy), a lot of the Democratic Convention consisted of fare and themes we normally get from the Republicans — upbeat “Morning in America” patriotism, appeals to fundamental, traditional American values and the like.
Which has to be eating at Sens. McCain and Graham almost as much as anything else. Their values used to be what their party was all about. In recent years, that’s been changing, as ideological loonies have been squeezing them out. It was happening already in 2008, which is why I wrote this column, “Give me that old-time conservatism.” In 2012, the “base” (can an insurgency be called “the base?” Oh, yeah, I guess it can) reluctantly settled for the sane Mitt Romney after spending much of the primary season flitting from one extreme to another.
And this year, of course, it went screaming off the rails, which is why people such as McCain, Graham, Romney, John Kasich and the Bushes did not attend their party’s convention.
I got a bit irked at a Tweet from Lindsey Graham last night:
All the possible Trump VP choices mentioned – Gingrich, Christie, Pence – are talented, smart & would be good choices for different reasons.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 14, 2016
Which is irrelevant, since the top of the ticket is utterly unthinkable, as the senator knows… https://t.co/JltO5Gpqgs
— Brad Warthen (@BradWarthen) July 14, 2016
I should have said, “as the senator well knows.” Lindsey Graham, more than any other Republican with the possible exception of Ben Sasse or Mitt Romney, has eloquently articulated the reasons why Trump is unthinkable.
So why this ridiculous reaching for straws to make him feel better about the ticket? The most wonderful running mate in the history of the world wouldn’t change the fact that if elected, he or she would hold an office worth no more than a bucket of warm spit, while He Who Should Not be Named would be President of the United States.
Such an effort to find good things to say about the ticket on the part of Republicans who know better is unseemly in the extreme.
The identity of the running mate is a distraction, a digression, and no one who knows what a threat Donald Trump is to the nation should indulge in it for an instant.
Like I care.
OK, I’ll say one thing about him: I have a low opinion of anyone who would abandon the people of Indiana to help Donald Trump get elected. That cancels pretty much anything positive he might conceivably bring with him…
This just in from Lindsey Graham:
Graham Named ‘Fiscal Hero’ For Work To Address National Debt
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) was named a ‘Fiscal Hero’ by the Campaign to Fix the Debt for his work during the 114th Congress to improve the nation’s fiscal future and address the core drivers of the national debt.
“Senator Graham has worked through a variety of channels to draw attention and find solutions to the nation’s fiscal challenges,” said Maya MacGuineas, Head of the Campaign to Fix the Debt. “While many lawmakers have chosen to bury their heads when it comes to these issues, Senator Graham has shown courage and leadership and has been willing to stand up for what is right for the country – even when it’s not easy to do so.”
“The longer we wait, the more severe and difficult the choices will be to fix the debt,” MacGuineas continued. “Yet very few Members of Congress take this problem seriously. Those who do, like Senator Graham, deserve our thanks and praise.”
Honorees included 26 members of the House and 21 Senators from both parties, covering a range of political views.
To be named a Fiscal Hero, lawmakers distinguished themselves by casting fiscally responsible votes; pushing their party leaders to make addressing the debt a priority; leading bipartisan policy efforts; and engaging and educating constituents.
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is a nonpartisan movement to put America on a better fiscal and economic path. More information on the group can be found on its website:http://www.fixthedebt.org/
Here’s the steering committee of Fix the Debt. Starting with Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson themselves, the list includes such luminaries as Ed Rendell, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Domenici and Sam Nunn. I see a list like that and I think, I may not automatically agree with everything these guys come up with, but I’m certainly going to give it a respectful listen.
But these are just the kinds of folks that the great populist mass is rising up against these days, isn’t it?
So Lindsey Graham should be proud to have the praise of such a group, but it’s not going to do much to heal the divisions between him and the restive members of his base…
Today I happened to stumble upon this piece from The Fix that I read when it was first published 12 days ago, and I can’t believe I didn’t bring it to y’all’s attention then.
Co-written by Chris Cillizza (see, normally I am a fan) and Aaron Blake, the piece counts down “The 10 Republicans who hate Donald Trump the most,” and in the No. 1 slot, just edging out Ben Sasse, is our own senior senator:
1. Lindsey Graham: Picking a first among equals when it comes to hating on Trump is no easy task, but the South Carolina senator stands out for two main reasons: His willingness to speak out publicly and how he does so with such flair. “You’ll never convince me that Donald Trump is the answer to the problem we have with Hispanics,” Graham said in March. “It will tear the party apart, it will divide conservatism, and we’re gonna lose to Hillary Clinton and have the third term of Barack Obama.” Back in January Graham said that “if you nominate Trump and Cruz, I think you get the same outcome,” he told reporters. “Whether it’s death by being shot or poisoning doesn’t really matter. I don’t think the outcome will be substantially different.” (He eventually endorsed Cruz.) On the day Trump won the Indiana primary effectively sealed the GOP nomination, Graham tweeted this:
If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed…….and we will deserve it.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 3, 2016
I hope he’s proud of the distinction, and will continue to be. If not, I’ll just go ahead and be proud for him…
I think Chris Cillizza does a great job at The Fix, and I enjoy reading his stuff.
But his effort over the weekend, “If the 2016 presidential candidates were ‘Game of Thrones’ characters,” was sort of lame.
He should leave the silly pop-culture analogies to someone else, such as, I don’t know… me. I’ll stack my “Candidates as stock characters in WWII movies” against this any day.
OK, the “Hillary Clinton as Cersei Lannister” isn’t bad, although I don’t picture Cersei making the same clothing choices. But these comparisons are terrible:
Donald Trump: Robert Baratheon
There was a succession plan in place for how you picked kings. Then, Robert decided to ignore all of those rules and take the kingdom by force. Sort of like Trump just did with the Republican Party. Also, they are two men who have big appetites for everything in life — and don’t feel the need to apologize for it….
Bernie Sanders: Ellaria Sand
She’s down there in Dorne. People — including Oberyn’s brother, Doran (RIP) — don’t take her seriously. But she is a true believer and has more of a following than anyone initially thought. And you sort of suspect that she’s going to have a biggish role to play in the main plot by the end — but you can’t figure out how yet.
Ted Cruz: Tyrion Lannister
Neither one comes out of central casting. Perennially underrated. But without question, the guy who honestly diagnoses his own strengths and weaknesses best, and who not only sees the whole playing field better than anyone else but also puts in place a plan that is three steps ahead. Also: Someone most people don’t like in his world — and who doesn’t care….
All right, I can almost see Trump as Robert Baratheon — both are ill-suited to governing and take little interest in matters of policy. But Robert was a semi-sympathetic character, scoundrel that he was, and he had the wisdom to appoint Ned Stark as Hand. Trump would never do that. In fact, Trump would go on at length about how he doesn’t need a Hand, because his own hands are perfectly adequate no matter what you’ve heard, in fact they’re terrific…
Bernie as Ellaria Sand? How absurd. Bernie as a really hot woman who is pure, murderous evil, who seems to have no human feeling at all? No, if anything, Bernie is old Grand Maester Pycelle, the crotchety guy at court who makes out like he’s more decrepit than he is.
But the worst is Ted Cruz — the least likable member of the U.S. Senate as Tyrion, possibly the most sympathetic character in Westeros? I’d see Lindsey Graham as Tyrion — neither is of imposing stature, they’re both given to wisecracks about the other characters, and they both think everybody should drink more. (Cillizza cast Lindsey as Ser Davos, which is OK, but I think Tyrion is more on the money.)
There are characters on the show who would be a closer match for Cruz, but for reasons I find inadequate, Cillizza decided to leave out Ramsay Bolton and Joffrey Baratheon. He didn’t want to be that mean to any of the candidates — even if they deserved it…
Meant to post something on this this morning, but didn’t get to it, and Doug just posted something that reminded me…
Sen. Lindsey Graham paused for five full seconds and stumbled over his words pondering the question: When is the last time he split with fellow Republican Sen. John McCain on a major issue?
“I don’t know, let me think about it,” Graham (S.C.) finally said of his closest Senate friend. “There have been several. I just can’t recall right now, right off the top of my head.”
Yet that’s what has happened in the wake of Donald Trump’s ascendancy to presumptive Republican nominee for president. In the Republican civil war over Trump, this is perhaps the most glaring example of two “brothers” fighting on opposite sides of the battlefield. It reflects a larger chasm in the Republican Party over whether to embrace the anti-establishment businessman that could end up costing the party the presidency in November…
Yeah, he probably overdid the “brother against brother” Civil War shtick, but try to look past that to the substance…
I remain proud of Lindsey on this, but I’m disappointed with McCain.
Disappointed, and confused.
The temptation of course is to say McCain is being a political opportunist to save his electoral bacon, like when he denied his own maverickness in 2010.
But that doesn’t add up. As the story says:
While the Arizona Republican is heavily favored to win his primary, his state’s GOP voters gave Trump nearly 50 percent in a blowout for the real estate mogul in the state’s March presidential contest.
Then, McCain faces a general election challenge that could be the “race of my life,” as he described it at a fundraiser that was taped by an attendeeand leaked to Politico. Despite the low profile of the likely Democratic candidate, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, McCain suggested that Trump’s divisive rhetoric and policies toward immigrants would make his race difficult because of his southwestern state’s heavy Latino bent….
OK, so… he’s poised to win his primary, which is the only place where backing Trump could help him. But he doesn’t need that help. On the other hand, he’s got a huge general election challenge in which backing Trump definitely HURTS him.
So this makes no sense as opportunism.
Guess I’ll just have to take the Arizonan at his word — that he’s backing the (presumptive) Republican nominee because he’s a Republican and that’s what he does.
That’s wrong-headed, and illustrates one of the worst aspects of partisanship, and this would be an EXCELLENT time for McCain to duck into a phone booth and change into his Maverick costume — but within the universe of partisans makes sense. Party member do that sort of thing. Wish they wouldn’t, and am glad when they don’t…
I meant to include this clip with the previous post, but forgot.
Lindsey Graham would not do well in the Oceania of Orwell’s 1984. If he tried to mouth the latest absurdity — say, “We have always been at war with Eastasia; we have always been allies with Eurasia,” he’d crack up. He’d laugh right in Big Brother’s face. Then it would be off to Room 101 with him.
Basically, he’s too honest to pull of the “I back Cruz” thing. He just can’t pull it off.
Up to now, I couldn’t figure out why Lindsey Graham and other mainstreamers such as Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney were backing Ted Cruz, when we know:
I couldn’t figure it out until I read this observation in a couple of places over the last day or two:
Graham admits that Ohio Governor John Kasich “would be the best nominee, but he doesn’t have a chance.” So he tries to talk up Cruz as the one candidate who might be able to slow Trump’s march to the nomination…
Let’s unpack that statement that Kasich “would be the best nominee, but he doesn’t have a chance.”
He doesn’t mean Kasich doesn’t have a chance in the fall. He’s the one Republican still running who does consistently win a matchup with Hillary. In fact, if Republicans actually want to do what parties are supposed to exist to do — win elections — no one would waste a second talking about doing anything but nominating Kasich.
But while Graham knows he can count on the American people (sorry, Barton) to choose Kasich, he’s convinced that his own party will never do so.
Are you following me? Here we have a situation in which one of the smartest Republicans holding elective office has made the calculation that the best candidate, and the one who would lead the party to victory, has no chance of being nominated by his party.
That’s what “he doesn’t have a chance” means. Not that Kasich wouldn’t win the election in a walk, but that the Republican Party is so royally fouled up that it won’t nominate him, under any circumstances. No matter how urgently or fervently Graham and other rational people might advocate for him.
It’s so hopeless that they won’t even TRY. They’re resigned to failure because of their lack of confidence in their fellow Republicans. Defeat in November is a given. In fact, they’re counting on it, to save the country. They just believe the defeat will be less ignominious if Cruz is their nominee rather than Trump. They think there will be some pieces left to pick up this way.
They think that with Cruz, there’ll be something still to preserve from this Götterdämmerung.
I believe that is the saddest commentary on the Republican Party I’ve ever read in my life.