What is the market value of U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina? Priceless.
Let me start by saying that I have been paid a lot of money over the years to goof on Lindsey Graham. As a producer for nationally syndicated radio shows hosted by people like Laura Ingraham, Mancow, Monica Crowley, and others, I have written parodies, booked segments, and cut soundbites all designed to tease Graham and make him look silly. I am here to recant.
Graham threw a Hail Mary pass Thursday afternoon—and, for once, Republicans caught it. The man from Pickens County, South Carolina called down the god of thunder and hit his target. When he was finished, Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court suddenly seemed more likely.
Because of one man. One statesman with (dare I say it) principles. One seismic eruption that made the tombstones of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster sway a little.
Graham’s impassioned speech wasn’t merely in defense of Kavanaugh’s nomination but against the serial presumption of guilt put on display by every Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
And not just Kavanaugh’s presumed guilt. As Graham noted, what is happening on the Hill—and around the country—is a debate over whether to upend more than 1,000 years of Western legal and moral tradition and replace it with something ominously contrary. The once-universally accepted idea that it is the burden of the accuser to establish guilt is to be supplanted by an obligation of the accused to establish his innocence to the satisfaction of his accusers.
Perhaps Christine Blasey Ford was attacked back in 1982. It is certainly possible—and she herself seemed sincere. But sincerity is not the issue. Veracity is.
As in, “to verify.” With facts that can be corroborated and that exist independently of the opinions or emotions of any particular person, party, or media outlet. If Ford was attacked by someone, that is horrible and tragic. But it is infinitely more tragic—and vastly more dangerous—to accept the guilt of anyone, not merely Judge Kavanaugh, solely on the basis that “someone said so.”
That was Graham’s thesis.
And it exploded out of his mouth after hours of listening to one Democrat after another “testify” at length to things he (or she) could not possibly know—the presumed accuracy of Ford’s account and the presumed untruthfulness of Kavanaugh’s denials. Not even the pretense of let’s-consider-the-facts was on display. Instead, the hearing devolved into something resembling 1930s-era Soviet show trials, with Democrats in the role of Andrey Vyshinsky—Stalin’s Rottweiler—who specialized in abuse rather than facts.
“One should remember,” Vyshinsky reportedly said, “that there are such periods, such times in the life of society and our individual lives, when the laws turn out to be obsolete and have to put them aside.”
Democrats attributed to Ford unlimited virtues, before ululating abuse in Kavanaugh’s direction. “We believe her,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) . . . because she said so. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) raked Kavanaugh over the fire, claiming that his refusal to accept his guilt “. . . exhibited temperament Americans don’t want in fair judges.” Kavanaugh apparently should have sat quietly and not exhibited outrage about having his name publicly dragged through filth.
Graham was having none of it. After no one else stepped into the breach, he unleashed his finest moment.
“What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open, and hope you win in 2020,” he said. “To my Republican colleagues, if you vote ‘no,’ you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing that I have seen in my time in politics.”
Suddenly, what seemed to be a juggernaut was stopped in its tracks. Like Washington rallying the fleeing Continentals at the Battle of Brooklyn in August of 1776—likely saving the then-rickety American attempt to secure its independence from Great Britain—Graham rallied the dispirited troops.
And—once again—the line held. The quavering on the GOP side of the aisle stopped.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Tweeted that Graham “has more decency and courage than every Democrat member of the committee combined. God bless him.”
Committee Democrats, of course, were about as pleased as British General Thomas Gage was in New York City 242 years ago. They accused Graham of being a “Trump sycophant”—an accusation almost as beside the point as Ford’s celebrated “sincerity” and “courage.” They just don’t get it.
The question before the committee is whether there’s any reason other than ideological opposition to Kavanaugh to vote against him. It is perfectly legitimate to disagree with his judicial philosophy—but pretending it’s about something else and that something else without any more substance than someone-said-so is despicable beyond expression.
Which is exactly what Graham gave expression to—and not just for himself, but for millions of fair-minded people watching these proceedings, who were appalled by the way things were proceeding. Until Graham stood on the brakes, locked up the wheels—and did a 180.
“Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist,” President Trump tweeted. If Judge Kavanaugh ever becomes Justice Kavanaugh, it will come courtesy of the senator from South Carolina.
Lindsey Graham has always had a rocky relationship with right-wing media, but I think it’s time to stop and say: Bravo, Senator!
Photo Credit: Melina Mara-Pool/Getty Images