“If you don’t like it you can leave,” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (RINO-S.C.) told an angry crowd at a town hall meeting in Greenville, S.C. earlier this week – also exhorting his audience at one point to “chill out.”
In addition to being a symptom of his “Beltway disease” (Graham has been in Washington for fifteen years), it’s also the latest manifestation of a deliberate strategy – specifically, branding his constituents as a bunch of right wing kooks before they can brand him as a turncoat, or “traitor.”
Indeed, Graham has spent the better part of this year not only voting with the Democratic majority in Washington, but picking fights with the right wing of the Republican Party – part of his ongoing effort to be a “center-right” politician in a town whose entire political spectrum has lurched decidedly to the left over the last decade.
And yes, Republicans (like Graham) are every bit as much to blame as President Barack Obama for that paradigm shift.
“I don’t want to be a member of the Club for Growth,” Graham said back in April, shortly after the group blasted Graham’s fiscally liberal voting record – which included out-earmarking U.S. Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.
A month later, Graham slammed libertarians at the SCGOP convention, remarking that “we’re not going to build this party around libertarian ideals.”
Since then, Graham has narrowed his line of attack.
Recognizing that an all-out assault on fiscal conservatism would be a tough sell during one of the worst recessions in American history, Graham decided to switch gears and personalize his attack – going after controversial conservative radio host Glenn Beck.
Beck is obviously an easy target, and as FITS has noted on many occasions in the past there will never be a shortage of kooks and loons in the Republican Party – at either end of its political spectrum.
But that’s just it … Graham isn’t really going after the “kooks and loons,” if you look closer he’s actually going after the core, Reagan-esque principles that the GOP is supposed to stand for – he’s just using the “kooks and loons” to make himself look rational (i.e. centrist) in the process.
“We’re not going to be the party of angry white men,” Graham said at his town hall meeting earlier this week.
Great! Why would Republicans want to be – or be in – a party like that?
Nobody wants that kind of a party. In fact, this website has been front and center when it comes to pressuring the GOP over its ongoing lack of diversity.
But Graham knows it’s not about any of that. Throwing the term “angry white man” out there is his way of deflecting attention from the fact that he’s become part of the problem in Washington – a free-spending, big government liberal who holds the core values of what used to be the “party of Reagan” in utter contempt.
Seriously, what happened to the old Lindsey Graham?
And no, we’re not referring to the sanctimonious blowhard who made a name for himself by bashing Bill Clinton during the 1998 impeachment drama … we’re talking about the guy who in 1995 stood with a handful of fiscal conservatives – dare we say, libertarians – in calling out the leadership of the “Republican Revolution.”
That’s precisely the sort of leadership we need in Washington right now …
UPDATE: The Charleston City Paper has an interesting article on Lindsey Graham today, as well …