Oh, Lindsey, Lindsey, what in the name of all that’s holy are you talking about?
On four occasions, [South Carolina Senator Lindsey] Graham met with Tea Party groups. The first, in his Senate office, was “very, very contentious,” he recalled. During a later meeting, in Charleston, Graham said he challenged them: “ ‘What do you want to do? You take back your country — and do what with it?’ . . . Everybody went from being kind of hostile to just dead silent.”
In a previous conversation, Graham told me: “The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out.” Now he said, in a tone of casual lament: “We don’t have a lot of Reagan-type leaders in our party. Remember Ronald Reagan Democrats? I want a Republican that can attract Democrats.” Chortling, he added, “Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today.”
I get that Graham has to promote himself. That’s what professional politicians do. That’s how they get plum committee assignments and make themselves the darlings of the MSM. However, Graham’s ego has blocked his view of history and that makes him stupid.
Here’s the thing. The Tea Party movement doesn’t want to govern the country. It (insofar as a collection of disparate and mostly uncoordinated groups can be considered an “it”) is not a party in itself. It doesn’t want to take over the Republican party except in the sense that it wants the messages of “get the government off my back as much as possible” and “why don’t you try following the Constitition for a while” to be at the forefront of the GOP’s political philosophy. And of course it will die out, just as soon as it gets what it wants. That’s the point. The people in the movement are largely not political lifers and career wonks. They’re soccer moms and dads with day jobs, students with classes to attend, and amateur bloggers who have lives that demand their attention. They are together for a purpose and when that purpose is fulfilled, they’ll go back to doing what they’ve always done. In short, they are the motivated citizenry upon which the Founders built our entire system of government. Lindsey Graham is the aberration here — a man whose life is given over to politics.
As for Reagan, well, that’s just piffle. Graham forgets that Ronald Reagan won 91% of the electoral votes and 44 states in 1980 with a platform that included abolishing the Departments of Energy and Education, on strong states’ rights, on drastically lower taxes, and a strong and unapologetic national defense. In 1984, on essentially the same issues, he won 49 states and almost 98% of the electoral votes. And Graham thinks that Reagan couldn’t win on exactly the same platform today? Please pull the other one. It has bells on.
Yes, it is true that in his second term, he raised taxes several times and was gulled into buying Tip O’Neill’s lies on the 1986 immigration reform. However, those do not outweigh the simple fact that Ronald Reagan won two landslides by pushing issues that would not be out of place at all at a Tea Party rally (and are utterly alien to Graham himself). If he ran for President today on either his 1980 or 1984 platforms, he would win going away, just like he did back then.
Even against the super-awesome Lindsey Graham.
(Cross-posted at Right Wing News)