Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) participates in a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the use of body cameras by law enforcement May 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. 
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty

Lindsey Graham goes big, hopes for attention

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) a longshot presidential candidate, appeared on Fox News yesterday and made clear how committed he is to deploying U.S. ground troops to combat ISIS in the Middle East. “It’s a tough message,” Fox’s Steve Doocy said. “A lot of people are just worn out by war.”
 
“Well, don’t vote for me,” Graham replied.
 
It’s a striking message for a White House hopeful, effectively telling a national audience that if they don’t want more war, they should vote for someone else.
 
But Graham is hardly done saying strange things. Consider this new msnbc report from Rachel Kleinman:
Long-shot presidential hopeful Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday’s massive data breach can be traced to failures of the Obama administration.  Worse, he predicted “a cyber ‘Pearl Harbor’ ” if measures aren’t taken to avoid another such hack.
 
“I fear the massive data breach at the Office of Personnel Management may turn out to be yet another example of America being walked over by rivals and adversaries,” the South Carolina Republican said in a statement, adding, “The Obama Administration’s failures in foreign policy and national security continue to pile up yet they do nothing to change course.”
The Republican senator added. “I fear a cyber ‘Pearl Harbor’ is increasingly more likely if we do not invest in the necessary infrastructure to protect our nation.”
 
There are some obvious problems with rhetoric like this. For example, it’s really incumbent on Congress, not the White House, to invest in cyber-security and network infrastructure. If Graham helped pass a bill, I suspect President Obama would sign it.
 
It’s also rather bizarre to hear Graham blame Obama for a data hack. When Chinese hackers breached the Pentagon in 2007, did Graham whine about the Bush/Cheney failures piling up?
 
But I think there’s a larger context to this, and it gets back to something we discussed two weeks ago: the more a Republican presidential candidate struggles for support in the polls, the stronger the incentive for him or her to say ridiculous things to get attention.
 
Graham, for example, is currently polling at about 1%. At this point, he’s on track to be completely excluded from the debates for the Republican presidential candidates.
 
So what does that mean for the struggling Graham campaign? It means he’ll have to make foolish arguments – loudly and repeatedly – in the hopes of generating some attention, which he hopes may lead to some additional support.
 
I suspect Graham knows, for example, that the suspected Chinese hack isn’t the president’s fault. But saying so won’t garner a Graham-vs.-Obama headline, so the senator has an incentive to make an absurd argument.
 
This is only going to get worse in the coming weeks and months. It’s likely to get pretty ugly.
 

Lindsey Graham and Technology

Lindsey Graham goes big, hopes for attention