By Carol Rushton
God bless Lindsey Graham.
I never in my entire life thought I would ever say this. If you are shocked by that first sentence, you are not nearly as shocked as I am.
South Carolina’s Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has been despised by conservatives for years. His voting record rating by conservative groups shows why. The Heritage Foundation gives him a 59% conservative voting record. Conservative Review includes Graham in their 25 Top Rinos List with a Liberty Score of 33%. Combined with his less-than-conservative stances on important topics like illegal immigration and his support for giving citizenship to illegal who have lived in this country for a certain number of years, conservatives have not had a lot of love for Senator Graham. The best that could be said about Graham was that he was a namby-pamby, wishy-washy Republican, never more evident than during his failed attempt to run for president several years ago.
Graham has been parodied, scorned, and mocked by everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Mark Levin with names like Lindsey Grahamnesty. I even got in on the disparagement as well, calling Graham and his best friend, John McCain, the Bobsey Twins.
That has dramatically changed since the death of McCain and the ludicrous charges of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh that included accusations that he ran a weekend gang rape ring in college, something that was mysteriously never reported to the police by any of the supposed victims,
Graham stunned – and I mean stunned – American conservatives by his fiery defense of Kavanaugh after hearing the laughable charges by Christine Ford, who couldn’t remember hardly anything about the assault that supposedly occurred 36 years ago except that she was sure Kavanaugh was the one who did it.
As a former lawyer in the Air Force JAG Corps, it was obvious Graham found Ford’s account of the assault less than credible. “Based on what I heard today, you could not get a search warrant or an arrest warrant because you don’t know the location, you don’t know the time, you don’t have any corroboration” was his response.
Graham also made sure the Democrats knew how he felt about their treatment of Kavanaugh. “If you wanted an FBI investigation, you could have come to us! What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat, and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that. Not me! . . . I would never do to them what you’ve done to this guy! This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics, and if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure . . . wouldn’t have done what you have done to this guy.”
Even after the hearing was over, the FBI investigation was finished, and the Senate had confirmed Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Graham weighed in again in a series of tweets. “I’m happy because the effort to railroad and humiliate this man failed . . . Those who tried to destroy his life fell short” and “I told Judge Kavanaugh I was very happy he was recognized for the good man he is, but sad that the process was so despicable.”
It was clear Graham was just getting started. When a Democrat protester confronted him over his defense of Kavanaugh with “If he would take a polygraph, it would all be over, Senator Graham” Graham didn’t mince words. “Why don’t we dunk him in water and see if he floats” was Graham’s retort, a reference to tests for witches in European Medieval and early American history (if a person drowned, he or she was considered innocent of the charge of witchcraft; if the person floated the person was considered a witch). Graham wanted everyone to know that he compared the attacks on Kavanaugh equal to that of a witch hunt.
Graham wasted no time responding to Democrat New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, who was accused of having sexual encounters with underage girls in the Dominican Republic, when Menendez said the FBI investigation of Kavanaugh was a “bull**** investigation.” Graham said he hoped this would blow up in the Democrats’ faces and used the same word Menendez had in describing what they had done to Kavanaugh.
Even though it’s been a few weeks since the Kavanaugh hearings have been over, Graham hasn’t slowed down. Graham also made it clear to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday after Kavanaugh was confirmed that the days of his being Mr. Nice Guy were over. “I’ve never campaigned against a colleague in my life. That’s about to change.” He promised he would go throughout the country to inform voters of what the Democrats had done and what they stood for.
Near the end of the interview, Graham threw down a challenge to Democrat Senator Charles Schumer by holding up a list of President Trump’s suggested Supreme Court nominees. “There’s twenty-something people on this list. I’m asking Chuck Schumer, name five, name three, name one that would be okay with you. Brett Kavanaugh was a mainstream judge. I would’ve chosen him if I had been president . . . So, Chuck, if you want someone new? Look at this list and see anybody you agree to but what you want to do, Senator Schumer is to overturn the election and you pick the judges . . . When Obama won [the White House], I voted for two judges that he picked. So, Chuck Schumer, name one person on this list you think is acceptable.”
To say that Graham’s fierce defense of Kavanaugh, the president, and conservative principles is a shock to conservatives has to be the understatement of the year. We conservatives are dumbfounded. Where has this guy been all these years?
Some conservatives claim that the death of his “moderate” Senate buddy John McCain has freed Graham to be more conservative. It could be that the Democrats overplayed their hand so much and were so over the top in their accusations against Kavanaugh that Graham was finally fed up and came out swinging.
Certainly Graham’s impassioned support of Kavanaugh combined with the Democrats’ circus tactics, has helped to energize conservatives to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. Before the Kavanaugh hearings, conservatives and Republicans were not very excited about the midterm elections this year. According to a recent Gallup pool, enthusiasm among Republicans to vote is now at 58%, almost matching the 61% among Democrat voters (Gallup.com, Lydia Saad, September 27, 2018, “Both Parties’ Voters Are Keyed Up for Midterm Elections,” accessed October 22, 2018).
Whatever the reason for Graham’s dramatic change, conservatives are echoing the hungry little orphan boy, Oliver Twist, in Dickens great novel: “More, please.”
At the end of the same Fox News interview, Chris Wallace referred to a New York Times interview that criticized Graham harshly for defending Kavanaugh. Graham responded, “I am bipartisan when it makes sense. I try to have a good disposition because I like my job. But don’t mistake that I don’t care about the conservative cause. So, if I made you upset because I would not legitimize McCarthyism, then good, and I think I can survive in South Carolina.”
I think so, too.