That Sen. Lindsey Graham is almost universally reviled by conservatives for his Republican flakiness is well established. And while right wingers never know which way the wind is going to blow for Graham on most issues — last week for example, the man once dubbed "Grahamnesty" decided to oppose anchor-baby citizenship — Lindsey can always be counted on to be consistent on at least one issue. And it's the worst one.
Under a headline in The Post and Courier reading, "Graham Stands Strong on War," the story noted, "Ending the war on any terms would answer the prayers of many. But it's Graham's worst nightmare, a drastic setback in America's war on terror and death for thousands of Afghans who have joined the fight."
The P&C added, "With WikiLeaks, escalating violence, and eroding support turning the battlefield to quicksand, Graham stands firm in his support for the war. He wants Republican lawmakers to stand with him and not join the anti-war left." Graham also warned of an "unholy alliance between the Right and the Left" that "might end funding for the war in Afghanistan."
While Graham believes it's acceptable to form an "unholy alliance" with the late Ted Kennedy to promote amnesty for illegal aliens, Sen. Joe Lieberman to promote a national ID card and a police state, and Sen. John Kerry to promote cap and trade — and that's not even taking into account his party-bucking support for liberal Supreme Court nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — our senior senator believes any Republican who joins with a Democrat in questioning the wisdom of arguably the dumbest, and certainly the longest, war in American history is doing something decidedly demonic.
Graham would love to frame the war debate by equating being pro-war with being conservative and anti-war with being liberal. But ask yourself this: Why is Graham, a self-described conservative, promoting an unpopular war alongside a president many right wingers consider the most liberal in history? In Graham's mind, is Obama some kind of foreign policy conservative?
Was Richard Nixon joining the Left when he promised to bring the troops home from Vietnam? Was Ronald Reagan behaving like a liberal by pulling American soldiers out of Lebanon? Or were these rational correctives to irrational policies?
Was GOP Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) making an "unholy alliance" with Democrats recently when he voted against funding the war in Afghanistan? According to a Washington Post report, "On the eve of the vote, Chaffetz called families of the three men from his district who have died in Afghanistan since he was elected and told them he was considering opposing the funding. 'This was one of the toughest votes I've had in Congress,' Chaffetz said. 'So I asked their opinion. And to a T, they all agreed with me.' So Chaffetz joined a tiny bloc in Congress: Republicans opposed to the Afghan war."
The Washington Post also reported on another member of that bloc, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who said of his vote, "I can state emphatically that if we continue our present strategy in Afghanistan, we will not succeed, and America will eventually be weakened by loss of lives and the expenditures of hundreds of billions of dollars." Rohrabacher's reasoning reflects basic common sense.
And this is something Graham fears is becoming more common. About such Republicans, Graham says, "The way to stop [GOP dissent on war] is you remind Republicans the consequences of losing in Afghanistan are not to Obama, but to the nation ... And don't go down that road trying to make this Obama's war."
So, Sen. Graham, in the 2008 election, was it not George W. Bush's "war on terror" that "kept us safe" or did that silly campaign rhetoric rightfully belong to Obama and his party too? I don't remember Lindsey or his pal John McCain saying any such thing. The war in Iraq was unquestionably "Bush's war." Now, Afghanistan has become Obama's.
Just as the Left fears President Obama's sinking popularity might harm liberal pet projects, Republicans like Graham fear the Afghan war's unpopularity could hurt the neoconservative's primary project of perpetual war and permanent empire. Last month, conservative MSNBC host and frequent war critic Joe Scarborough asked, "For too long you've had John McCain and you've had Bill Kristol, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman define what it meant to be a Republican when it came to foreign policy."
This is unquestionably true, and Graham now fears too many Republicans are asking too many questions. What's "conservative?" What's "liberal?" Where does Afghanistan fit into all this?
As Lindsey Graham continues to vocalize his fears of an emerging "unholy alliance" of independent thought and common sense, something that could feasibly threaten the old Republican foreign policy consensus, we have to wonder exactly where he fits in as well.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.