This will surely not be the most popular column I write for SOFREP. Some will read it as biased drivel emanating from a supporter of a former hopeless presidential candidate, while others will judge it to be a completely erroneous opinion, and way off-base. No matter. This column needs to be written, and I suppose I shall be the one to write it.
On December 21st, Senator Lindsey Graham dropped out the race for the Republican nomination for president of the United States. The senator made his announcement during an interview with CNN, stating that he had “hit a wall,” and that this was not his time. Fair enough. Graham never really seemed to have a chance, did he? I count myself among those, early on, who thought, why the hell is he even running? There is no place for this guy to win in modern-day Republican politics.
Well, after watching him on the campaign trail these past months, and more importantly, seeing him in the various “undercard” Republican debates, I have a newfound appreciation for Mr. Graham and his political style. No, I am not declaring him the best candidate—at all—nor am I professing a desire that he should win the nomination. No, I am not professing support for his policy prescriptions. What I am doing is mourning his departure from the race. I am lamenting the fact that his voice will be removed from the stage, as it provided a needed counterweight to some of the other voices that have dominated so forcefully.
Here are the reasons why I am sad to see Lindsey Graham exit stage right:
- Senator Graham had the testicular fortitude to realize that he had little to no chance of winning the nomination race, but he joined up anyway because he believed in his vision of the world, and in his own prescription for how to approach it (“neoconservatism” is what it is called by most). Graham argued passionately for more American troops in Iraq, and a robust presence in Syria, to defeat ISIS. He also struggled mightily to counter the isolationist arguments put forward by Rand Paul, and then attempted to counter the various disparate foreign-policy proclamations advanced by Donald Trump. Most Americans remain skeptical of Graham’s foreign policy views—and rightly so, in my opinion—but some may be coming around to them after ISIS-inspired attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Regardless, his views deserved an airing, and he argued them passionately.
- Mr. Graham was fearless in the face of polls and ridicule from some in his own party, as he called out the sometimes ludicrous proposals and/or declarations emanating from the other Republican candidates, particularly Donald Trump. In a video referring to Mr. Trump’s suggestion to ban all Muslims from coming to America, Senator Graham called Trump a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.” When referring to Donald Trump’s insult of Graham’s friend John McCain, for McCain’s daring to allow himself to be captured and become a POW in Vietnam, Graham called Trump a “jackass.” The senator also famously publicly apologized to America’s Muslim allies for Trump’s continuing derogatory stance against Islam. You might not agree with all of these stances, but at least someone within the party was taking them publicly, and offering a necessary dissenting voice.
- Mr. Graham was funny as hell during this race. You may not want to admit that to yourselves, but you should. He regularly offered quips, jokes, and witty repartee that brightened the race, and relieved some of the absurd atmosphere that at times weighed heavily on the political stage. Here, here, and here are some compilations of just a smattering of his best one-liners. I, for one, will miss the humor.
- Senator Graham was not afraid to give an up-and-coming military and special operations-focused website a chance to interview him, and probe him on foreign policy and military issues. SOFREP appreciates that he gave us the time of day.
- Finally, Lindsey Graham was smart enough to know that the time was right to bail out of this presidential race. Not only did he not want to lose badly in his home state of South Carolina once that primary rolled around there, but he also must surely have seen that if he was serious about preventing one of the farther right-leaning Republican candidates from winning the party’s nomination, then he needed to do his part to help clear the field of some of the disparate center-right candidates, splitting the more moderate vote. That meant removing himself from the race. Well played, sir.
So, given all of the above, at least this one particular author bids a fond farewell to Senator Lindsey Graham. Let us all hope that he remains a voice of commentary in the race, for the sake of his jokes and to call out some of the absurdities coming from the other candidates. I might not agree with his neoconservative outlook on the world, but I sure do appreciate his levity and his willingness to interject some sanity into certain discussions being hashed out on the Republican side.
Let the barrage of negative comments commence!