A Hardball tribute to Sen. Lindsey Graham

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by Chris Matthews

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., carries the flag for the America envisioned by the founding fathers. Jefferson and Madison would like this senator because he honors the institutions of our Republic. He exemplifies Republican government as its meant to be: philosophical debate, good faith negotiation, and, finally, just as important: action. We debate. We find agreement. We act.

I’ve watched Sen. Graham on any number of issues since he came to Congress. On an impressive number of occasions, he has been the indispensable lawmaker, the senator who accepts his oath to make the best possible laws for this country of wide opinion and patriotic passions.

He worked for the past year to find a bill that would meet America’s current and near-term energy needs but also the need for renewables down the road. And he has shown the courage to offer a prudent concern for the effect of CO-2 emissions.

He has joined in a sound approach to immigration reform - that would deal in a realistic way with people living and working in the country illegally but also insists on a workable, reliable system for preventing the hiring of illegal immigrants. His comprehensive reform, in which he has been joined by Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat, and Joe Lieberman, who was elected as an independent, is what good immigration policy, good government and good American-ism looks like.

Graham recently criticized the Senate Democratic leadership for moving to debate immigration reform before taking up the legislation on energy and climate, saying it would undermine his year-long effort to forge a bipartisan approach to the energy and climate challenge.

Until we see if they are truly serious about comprehensive reform, I’m worried that Sen. Graham may be right.

Sen. Graham hasn’t run for president and hasn’t given up on his ability to walk across the aisle to find a workable solution for America’s problems. I hope I do neither man a disservice by saying the Lindsey Graham is the Real McCain.

A Hardball tribute to Sen. Lindsey Graham

Updated