Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) threats of political reprisals have recently become a running joke, which have made the Republican senator look rather foolish. But he showed on “Face the Nation” yesterday, Graham doesn’t seem to care.
For those who can’t watch clips online, CBS’s Bob Scieffer asked Graham whether he’s prepared to block votes on Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel and CIA Director nominee John Brennan. Graham said he would, because he wants more information on the Benghazi attacks from last fall.
“I want to know who changed the talking points,” Graham said. “Who took the references to al Qaeda out of the talking points given to Susan Rice? We still don’t know…. No confirmation without information.”
It’s hard to overstate how ridiculous Graham is being. Every question he’s asked has been answered. Every person he’s sought testimony from – David Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, et al – has already given testimony. At this point, Graham appears to be throwing partisan tantrums just for the sake of throwing partisan tantrums. For crying out loud, the “who changed the talking points” question was resolved in early December, as Graham surely knows.
As Kevin Drum recently put it, “This is very close to literal insanity. Graham knows perfectly well that these questions have been answered.”
Post script: In the same interview yesterday, Graham added that he wants to “hold this president accountable for what I think is tremendous disengagement at a time of national security crisis.”
If Graham wants to talk about presidents disengaged at a time of crisis, we can talk about presidents disengaged at a time of crisis.
[An unnamed CIA briefer] flew to Bush’s Texas ranch during the scary summer of 2001, amid a flurry of reports of a pending al-Qaeda attack, to call the president’s attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.” Bush reportedly heard the briefer out and replied: “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.”
I don’t recall Graham responding to this by blocking any cabinet nominees from the previous administration.
For what it’s worth, it’s not just the South Carolinian. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is threatening to filibuster Hagel – a move that has no precedent in American history – though the votes appear to be in place to overcome the 60-vote threshold if the Oklahoma Republican follows through on this threat.
For the record, Inhofe initially voiced support for Hagel’s nomination, before changing his mind for reasons that remain unclear.