The Amazing Sliminess of Lindsey Graham

I really should be writing that essay on whether or not Simone de Beauvoir builds a convincing ethical framework in The Ethics of Ambiguity (A: Sort of!), but I have to take a moment here to just marvel at Senator Graham’s chutzpah.

A bipartisan deal on climate change legislation suffered a major setback today as a key author of the measure accused Senate Democrats and President Obama of abandoning the issue to instead focus on an election-year immigration bill.

Sen. Lindsey Graham was set to release a climate change plan Monday with Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, but today Graham wrote a letter to “leaders in the energy independence effort” saying it was obvious the energy bill would have “no chance of success.

Graham’s been making noises like this for a while, but it has never been quite so obvious before just how little interest he actually has in passing climate change reform. No one publicly declares a policy dead if they want to pass it unless it has actually been killed. With that in mind, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with the “maverick” designator friend of the blog Sarah Libby gave him. You only get that particular badge if you make political sacrifices to do something you believe is right, and that’s not the case here; Graham is being disingenuous about his intentions and obstructing policy he claims to think is right in a way that is to the advantage of both himself and his party.

The logic goes like this: If Graham declares the climate change bill dead because of immigration reform, one of two things could happen:

A) It hobbles immigration reform because the Democrats consider climate change a larger priority, thereby saving the GOP from picking a fight that will only further alienate Hispanic voters. Meanwhile, Graham continues to get lauded as a hero by virtue of his maverick-ness.

(Option A was never very likely, especially now that the federal government has to do something to undermine this nightmare of a law that just got signed in AZ. And indeed it looks like the White House intends to continue pressing forward on both initiatives.)

B) Assuming it doesn’t hobble immigration reform, Graham now has a handy pretext for why he’s not even trying to whip GOP votes for the climate change bill: Democrats “poisoned the well,” so he can’t get anyone to support the proposal. Better yet, he can withdraw his own support–no doubt after much teary-eyed soul-searching–because the climate change bill is insufficiently bipartisan. He still gets the press attention and centrist cred from trying, but doesn’t need to actually do anything that his party wouldn’t like.

I’ll believe the guy is genuinely for climate change legislation when he takes a political hit for its sake. Right now, all he’s doing is playing everyone who actually wants energy independence and sustainability.

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One Response

  1. […] 25, 2010 by Ned Resnikoff Supporting my earlier point, Greg Sargent digs through the archives and recalls that Graham made the exact same threats […]

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