What Senator Lindsey Graham Reveals About Washington

"The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable"

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Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, is the subject of a lengthy profile by Robert Draper in the upcoming New York Times Magazine. Graham, a moderate who has shown an unusual willingness to work with this administration, has emerged as a key player of Obama-era Washington. But Graham has infuriated fellow Republicans for engaging with Democrats, and also often upsets Democrats for the compromises he will not make. The Times Magazine dubs him "This Year's Maverick" in reference to fellow GOP Senator John McCain.

  • Graham: Tea Party Will 'Die Out'  The Hill's Jordan Fabian pulls out the quotes. Fabian writes, "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has earned the ire of Tea Party groups for his penchant for negotiating with Democrats, predicted this week the movement will 'die out.' Graham, who has partnered with Democrats on immigration reform and energy and climate legislation," had this to say:
Everything I’m doing now in terms of talking about climate, talking about immigration, talking about Gitmo is completely opposite of where the Tea Party movement’s at. ... The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out. ... We don’t have a lot of Reagan-type leaders in our party. Remember Ronald Reagan Democrats? I want a Republican that can attract Democrats. ... Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today.
  • The GOP's Rightward Shift Since Reagan  Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis writes, "The Ronald Reagan that governed for eight years in the 80s was, in many ways, very different from the mythos that many on the right, such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, have created of a tax-cutting, hawkish foreign policy-following conservative icon. For example, Reagan raised taxes more than once during his eight years in office, he supported an immigration reform bill that granted amnesty to illegal immigrants, and while he did rebuild a decaying American military, he was also fiercely opposed to nuclear weapons and believed that they should be abolished from the planet. Would such a candidate have a chance in the Tea Party Republican Party of 2010 ? It’s hard to say, but it’s by no means certain that he would be as lovingly received as he is remembered."
  • Exacerbated Tea Party-Moderate Divide  The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen writes, "Graham's remarks, while defensible, are likely to cause all manner of trouble for him. He's already been condemned by right-wing South Carolinians, and that was just for talking to Democrats about possible compromises on public policy. For Graham to trash the confused Tea Party crowd -- to the New York Times, no less -- will likely make his life in Republican politics considerably more difficult."
  • Senators Publicly Feud, Privately Cooperate  Talking Points Memo's Eric Kleefeld writes, "Graham talked about the theatrical elements of politics, in which Senators and other political figures of opposite parties will privately work together while vigorously attacking each other in public. He credited the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) as a skilled practitioner of this -- and President Obama, too. 'The president has said very nice things about me off the record to other reporters,' said Graham."
  • Is GOP About Small Gov't or No Gov't?  White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told Draper of Graham, "He's willing to work on more things than the others. Lindsey, to his credit, has a small-government vision that’s out of fashion with his party, which stands for no government. ... He's one of the last big voices to give that vision intellectual energy."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.