Quick quiz: out of the dozens of Republicans eyeing the 2016 Republican presidential race, only six have set up exploratory committees or created political action committees intended to serve as the springboard for a presidential campaign. Without looking, can you name all six?
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, oddly enough, was first out of the gate with his “Right to Rise” organization. He was soon followed by right-wing neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former New York Gov. George Pataki, and as of last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Aside from Pataki, Graham is arguably the easiest candidate to forget, but on “Face the Nation” yesterday, the South Carolina Republican seemed entirely sincere about his national ambitions. Asked whether he stands a chance, given his support for immigration reform and climate science, Graham replied, “Well, I won in South Carolina. It’s a pretty red state.”
“So, I’m very comfortable that I’m in the mainstream of conservatism. I have done very well in a red state. And when it comes to national security and understanding the threats our nation faces, I believe I’m the best qualified of anybody on our side of the aisle to offer an alternative to a failed foreign policy of Barack Obama.“My organization is called Security Through Strength. We will never have peace with radical Islam, but we can have security.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), apparently unwilling to wait to see whether former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin jumps into the race, has already thrown his backing to Graham. “He’s a dark horse – keep an eye on him!” McCain told reporters last week. “In debates, he’ll shred ‘em. Have you see ever seen Senator Graham in a debate, on the floor of the Senate? He will do wonderful. I don’t want to raise expectations, but I’m confident.”
A day earlier, Graham said President Obama is “literally insane” for ending the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Graham and McCain are, for the most part, also the only two senators eagerly pushing for U.S. ground troops to invade Syria.,
And that’s ultimately what makes Graham’s ambitions so curious. As far as the senator’s concerned, he’s uniquely qualified to address matters of national security – more than his would-be GOP rivals and certainly more than the war-time president. Michael Cohen had a good piece last week suggesting otherwise.
A review … of the senator’s foreign-policy pronouncements speaks to a different reality. Lindsey Graham is, in fact, far more often wrong than he is right. Occasionally, he is more than just wrong: Sometimes, he’s completely out of his mind.In a town filled with threat-mongers, fear-merchants, and hand-wringers, there is no one mongering more threats, selling more fear and wringing more hands than Sen. Graham. It’s going to be awfully hard for candidate Graham to lift people up when he’s constantly telling them the sky is falling.
In the bigger picture, Graham’s fear-based errors of fact and judgment in foreign policy are problematic, but the fact that the senator sees this is as selling point is practically hilarious.
Simon Maloy had another tongue-in-cheek gem on Graham late last week: “News that Sen. Lindsey Graham is actively exploring a run for the presidency in 2016 should thrill and delight all serious people who think seriously about foreign policy…. [T]here’s nobody in politics with a firmer grasp of how everything that happens on the international stage is linked to Benghazi. The world needs strategic thinking of that caliber now more than ever.”
To drive home the point, consider Maloy’s collection from October:
[T]he Lindsey Graham foreign policy platform [includes] arguments like: invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein has WMDs; invade Iraq again to fight terrorists; send U.S. forces to fight in Syria; the president can secretly order the killing of American citizens; deny terrorism suspects their rights as American citizens because “the homeland is the battlefield;” and (my personal favorite) “free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.” This is the platform of a serious, serious man who is very serious.
Only a rational thinker like Lindsey Graham’s could look at the Islamic State’s threatening arsenal of pickup trucks and AK-47s and conclude that they represent an existential threat to the U.S. with the capacity to kill every single person in the United States of America. Only a sober observer of international politics could look at global affairs and conclude that “the world is literally about to blow up.” Only a sharp foreign policy mind like Lindsey Graham’s could make the connection between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi.
“I believe I’m the best qualified of anybody on our side of the aisle to offer an alternative to a failed foreign policy of Barack Obama.” Sure, senator, tell us another one.