The mainstream media have been searching for a new favorite Republican ever since John McCain won the presidential nomination in the spring of 2008. Clearly, McCain couldn’t be allowed to continue in that role because of the risk that it might have helped him win the presidency.
Favorite Republican really shouldn’t be a hard spot to fill. The only qualifications required are an eagerness to abandon conservative principles in order to further fashionable liberal issues, and a general ineffectualness at pursuing conservative goals.
Several prominent Republicans come immediately to mind as being well qualified.
It’s taken awhile, but after a long audition, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has won the job. Increasing, as well as increasingly favorable, mainstream media attention culminated on Sunday when Thomas L. Friedman anointed Graham in his New York Times column. Friedman’s fawning interview is headlined: “How the GOP Goes Green.”
As often happens when the subject knows his interviewer is friendly, Graham lets down his guard and says several revealing things.
Most stunning is Senator Graham’s explanation of why he supports energy-rationing policies to address global warming: it’s so college students will like him. Should you think I’m fabricating this or exaggerating, let me quote Friedman’s column:
Look at how he is received in colleges today. “Instead of just being one more short, white Republican over 50,” says Graham, “I am now semi-cool. There is an awareness by young people that I am doing something different.”
If this makes Senator Graham sound like a nitwit, that could be misleading. Friedman also mentions that one major corporation is counting on Graham to bail them out. General Electric, which manufactures wind turbines in Greenville, South Carolina, has been one of the biggest corporate supporters of energy rationing legislation for a simple reason. Besides windmills, they make a bewildering variety of industrial and consumer products (including nuclear reactors) that will be in much higher demand if government artificially raises energy prices.
And there’s also Duke Energy, a large electric utility holding company with a branch in South Carolina. Duke’s Chairman James Rogers is an old Enron hand who has become the leading corporate lobbyist for cap-and-trade legislation. Rogers hopes to make billions in windfall profits if it is enacted.
Senator Graham would not seem to be Rogers’ man, since he has been quoted widely in the past several days saying that cap-and-trade is dead in the Senate. Instead, Graham is working on a more modest bipartisan compromise energy-rationing bill with Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). The funny thing is that news stories report that their bill will contain a cap-and-trade program for electric utilities only. Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman just aren ‘t calling it cap-and-trade because the public have figured out that cap-and-trade is a sneaky name for an indirect tax that will transfer massive amounts of wealth from them to the federal government and its big business partners in crime.
The Graham-Kerry-Lieberman effort is going nowhere, but then the McCain-Lieberman and the Lieberman-John Warner (R-Va., now retired) cap-and-trade bills never went anywhere either. Senator McCain called what Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman are putting together “a joke.” That may be sour grapes coming from someone who is no longer favorite Republican, but it’s also a realistic assessment.
Senator Graham will not be favorite Republican solely on the global warming issue, however. Politico reported Monday on the cozy relationship between Graham and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. They are working together on how to close down Guantanamo. And no doubt Graham will be there in the years to come on other major issues when the left really needs him.
There is a solution for Senator McCain. His name is J.D. Hayworth. (And even if Hayworth loses to McCain in Arizona’s primary election on August 14, his challenge is forcing McCain to act like a conservative for most of this legislative year.) Unfortunately, Senator Graham is not up for re-election until 2014. So a solution is four years away.
Until then, South Carolinians are doing what they can to push back against the attraction of being the darling of the New York Times. Three county Republican committees in the state have voted to censure him. And this past Saturday, a hundred protesters organized by Freedom Works demonstrated in front of the senior senator’s office in Greenville.
But I doubt that Senator Lindsey Graham is going to worry much about the ire of mere citizens, as long as the New York Times is singing his praises and big business executives are backing him. He appears to be settling comfortably into the role of the mainstream media’s favorite Republican.