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Republican Party Needs More Lindsey Grahams

October 14, 2009

I have often spoken appreciatively of Republican Senators Dick Lugar, Orrin Hatch, and Lindsey Graham.  Having said that, it is also true they each have had strong rebukes from me along the way of their political careers.  Overall, however I think each of  them is very smart, and the type of Republican that will be required to rule their party if it is to ascend again in the nation.  With Lugar we have a master in foreign affairs, Hatch understands the judiciary, and Graham is highly conversant in constitutional law.  While they each are conservatives, they are the type of conservative who thinks in wider arcs, and understands Washington operates in realpolitik.  While I disagree with them on some political and philosophical matters, I would argue that each of these three is a gentlemen.  They act with political maturity, as opposed to some of the young turks that eat red meat and think they have made history.

I mention this after reading a story about Senator Lindsey Graham in The State, a go-to paper for the best political news in South Carolina.  If there is any cloudiness over what I mean about  mature people needing to reclaim the GOP  from the screamers and ranters, read this.  Graham proved to be far more patient than I think he needed to be.

Graham returned the fire with a grin, at times shouting over his most boisterous critics and telling some who questioned his Christianity and party loyalty that their minority conservative views wouldn’t succeed without the political coalitions he said are necessary to serve the majority of Americans and attract enough votes in Congress.

“If you don’t like it, you can leave,” he said.

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Some did.

The 75-minute forum filled several sections of Furman University’s Timmons Arena and attracted demonstrators, critics with handheld cameras, shouts of “traitor” and “Sotomayor” – and a smattering of supporters.

Graham repeatedly told those who shouted to “chill out,” and addressed most of the hot-button issues that have rankled some in the state’s conservative epicenter, including an op-ed column he co-authored this week with Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, which called for climate change legislation.

One man told Graham he had “betrayed” conservatism and made a “pact with the devil” by working with Democrats, and asked when Graham would switch parties.

“We’re not going to be the party of angry white guys,” Graham said to more shouts.

A woman who had been carrying a sign that condemned “unconstitutional, anti-Christ, socialist, federal, deficit-spending programs” told Graham “God does not compromise” and that he had violated his oath of office by supporting federal ideas, including health care reform that overstep states’ rights.

Graham rejected the idea that the federal government should stay out of health care, saying few people want to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, and he defended his Christianity.

He drew some applause by saying he opposes Obama’s government option for health care because he said it would drive private enterprise out of business and add hundreds of billions of dollars in debt. He said he’s not afraid to ask people who can afford care, like himself, to pay more, and that more competition, deregulation and tort reform are all ways to lower costs.

“If we do nothing, we all lose,” he said. 

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