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Lindsey Graham: The Embodiment of Everything Wrong with the GOP

Reading this Stephen Hayes report was good for a laugh:

In a recent, hour-long interview, Lindsey Graham said if he is reelected to the Senate in November, he will begin exploring a bid for the presidency.

Graham is kidding himself if he thinks he could be the nominee, so I’m not sure what the point of this would be. The likely 2016 field will already be filled with reliably hawkish candidates. Graham distinguishes himself from that field in that he has never encountered a foreign intervention that he didn’t like and by being wildly out of step with most Republicans on immigration. Those will make him an easy target and useful foil for all of the others, who will be able to point at the second “amigo” and say something like, “I want to keep America secure, but I don’t want to bomb every a new country every five minutes as Sen. Graham does.” A Graham bid is the closest one can get to re-running a McCain campaign, and Republicans are even less interested in doing that than they are in giving Romney another chance. Worse for the party, he is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with the party, especially when it comes to the issues of foreign policy and immigration. He is the walking reminder of why most Americans shouldn’t trust Republicans to conduct foreign policy and why most conservatives don’t trust their party leaders.

On foreign policy, Graham is one of the two worst senators still serving. Let’s remember that Graham isn’t merely very hawkish, but habitually resorts to panicked, overwrought descriptions of every threat and conjures up fantastical worst-case scenarios that are completely unmoored from reality. Robert Golan-Vilella described him this way:

Whenever there is a crisis somewhere in the world, you can count on him to take a real threat to the United States or international security and wildly exaggerate it in order to scare the bejesus out of the American people. Lindsey Graham is the closest thing U.S. politics has to an avatar of pure fear.

Consider some of Graham’s other statements over the past year and a half:

—July 2013: “We live in the most dangerous times imaginable.” No, we don’t. You have to have a basic lack of knowledge of history (not to mention lack of an imagination) for that assertion to make any sense.

Graham’s alarmism and threat inflation may briefly frighten some people into listening to his bad policy ideas, but it wouldn’t take long for many voters to see through this act and to realize that Graham overstates every danger and likewise overreacts to everything that happens. Regardless of one’s views on policy, that isn’t what anyone wants in a president.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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