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Lindsey Graham's disappointing filibuster vote

What happened?

I haven't always agreed with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, but I've long respected him for taking principled stances even when that meant parting ways with his party's orthodoxy.

Graham recently triggered the ire of South Carolina conservatives by joining Democrats in support of cap-and-trade legislation. He has been criticized by the right for working with those across the aisle on immigration reform that could pave the way for millions of illegal immigrants to live legally in the United States. And Graham was a member of the Senate's "Gang of 14" that put an end to the routine use of filibusters to block George W. Bush's judicial nominations. Although the pact meant most Bush nominees would ascend to the bench, Graham and the other GOP gang members were pilloried by some on the right who would have loved to continue the nominations showdown as a way to rally the conservative base. Graham was also the only Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote "yes" on the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor and one of only nine Republicans to vote for her on the Senate floor. He clearly had differences with this nominee but cast a yes vote based on her qualifications and in what I thought was an appropriate display of deference to the president in these matters.

Yet Graham voted on Tuesday to filibuster Judge David F. Hamilton, President Obama's nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. The filibuster vote failed 70 to 29, but if it had prevailed it would have denied Hamilton a vote on the Senate floor. Graham's opposition to Hamilton should have come as no surprise; the senator voted against Hamilton in committee. Graham said in a brief statement that he found the judge's "decision-making process to be so far removed from the mainstream that he should be denied promotion to the Court of Appeals."

Fair enough. I don't view Hamilton's record that way, and believe that Republicans have distorted Hamilton's record for political advantage. Graham obviously sees it differently. But filibuster?

Why not just vote against the judge on the merits in an up-or-down vote on the floor? Why resort to the very tactic once rightly deplored by Republicans when used against Republican nominees? I can't help but think that after all the bashing he has taken from conservatives that the vote to endorse a filibuster was an easy -- although unprincipled -- way to appease some of his hard-right critics.

Graham isn't the only GOP member of the original Gang of 14 who voted to filibuster Hamilton. Arizona Republican John McCain was one of the 29 votes in favor of blocking the nominee. McCain also voted against confirmation for Sotomayor, calling her a liberal activist judge. Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, also GOP members of the Gang of 14, voted against filibustering Hamilton, as did non-Gang members Orrin Hatch (Utah), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), John Cornyn (Tex.) Judd Gregg (N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), John Thune (S.D.) and Richard Lugar, of Hamilton's home state of Indiana. These senators deserve credit for voting to allow the political process to move forward. Just because they voted to allow a vote does not mean they're committed to voting yes on Hamilton.

It's hard to be disappointed by someone who rarely takes a tough stance or makes a hard choice. That can't be said of Lindsey Graham. If I'm disappointed in Graham -- and clearly I am -- it's only because I've come to expect much better from him.

By Eva Rodriguez  | November 18, 2009; 5:17 PM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodriguez  
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Comments

perhaps it is time to bring back the nuclear option. it's only apt to give the gop a taste of its own medication.

Posted by: JoeBridgeman | November 19, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

It is time to remove these fools from the government payroll. What are they doing for US to merit their fine salaries and benefits? They are doing NOTHING except working to hold on to their seats. The Republicans have turned this country into two bitter rivals and that never should have been. And they did it because they believed they were right, but because they believe there should be a permanent Republican majority and that all of us should live the way they want us to live, in their image and with their twisted and vicious ideological beliefs.

They don't give a damned about the citizens of this country. If they did they would go after the corruptions among them and put a stop to it. The C. Street Brothel is still in operation and stupid Stupak has allowed that twisted Hitler philosophy guide him in his opposition to health care for all Americans. All Americans!

Lindsey Graham is indeed disappointing in that I thought he at least acted like a man and not the appendix of his flaccid party membership. He should be ashamed of himself as should all of them. They are only filibustering these decent men and women who would become judges for no other purpose than party pureness and vengence. What a bum Congress we have in this country. They beef about big government but they all work to make it bigger.

Every time something isn't to their liking they want to change the Constitution to favor them, thus creating bigger government. it will never end, but one thing we citizens don't deserve is to be sending in our tax dollars to support these bums in Congress. They should all drop dead because they are simply more worthless pollution upon our soil.

Posted by: papafritz571 | November 19, 2009 1:46 AM | Report abuse

It is time to remove these fools from the government payroll. What are they doing for US to merit their fine salaries and benefits? They are doing NOTHING except working to hold on to their seats. The Republicans have turned this country into two bitter rivals and that never should have been. And they did it because they believed they were right, but because they believe there should be a permanent Republican majority and that all of us should live the way they want us to live, in their image and with their twisted and vicious ideological beliefs.

They don't give a damned about the citizens of this country. If they did they would go after the corruptions among them and put a stop to it. The C. Street Brothel is still in operation and stupid Stupak has allowed that twisted Hitler philosophy guide him in his opposition to health care for all Americans. All Americans!

Lindsey Graham is indeed disappointing in that I thought he at least acted like a man and not the appendix of his flaccid party membership. He should be ashamed of himself as should all of them. They are only filibustering these decent men and women who would become judges for no other purpose than party pureness and vengence. What a bum Congress we have in this country. They beef about big government but they all work to make it bigger.

Every time something isn't to their liking they want to change the Constitution to favor them, thus creating bigger government. it will never end, but one thing we citizens don't deserve is to be sending in our tax dollars to support these bums in Congress. They should all drop dead because they are simply more worthless pollution upon our soil.

Posted by: papafritz571 | November 19, 2009 1:46 AM | Report abuse

I hate all liberals all the time and Indiana has 2 Marxists liberal senators. I want Bayh and Lugar gone and Jesus back in. These senators are evil plain and simple.
Thanks
Buddy Hogan

Posted by: BUDDYHOGAN | November 19, 2009 1:56 AM | Report abuse

I hate all liberals all the time and Indiana has 2 Marxists liberal senators. I want Bayh and Lugar gone and Jesus back in. These senators are evil plain and simple.
Thanks
Buddy Hogan

-------------------------
Buddy,
I have to say...you sound like a freaking lunatic.

Posted by: wiatrol | November 19, 2009 2:15 AM | Report abuse

The shifty eyed Lindsey Graham is a convenient conservative republican when it suits his own self interests. SC no doubt has a large population of poor Latinos that move back and forth between SC, NC and GA as farm help, construction work, hog, poultry and beef packing plants etc. All at lower the minimum wage. With this cheap labor, all these S. States will come to a grinding halt.

The bottom line is that Graham like all the rest is a control freak, malignant narcissist, his own brand of perversity of inequality, rights only of his kind, evangelical Sunday hypocrite living off the DOD cash Cow.

Posted by: winemaster2 | November 19, 2009 5:13 AM | Report abuse

Graham is a sick puppy and you have recognized this from the get go. He is unfit to serve and only in SC could this be possible.He is a reason why the Republican party is a disgrace.

Posted by: 1set | November 19, 2009 5:40 AM | Report abuse

Using the word shame to help frame an argument means the argument can't stand on its own, this is no exception. How in the world did the editors allow this to be published? She expects more votes the way she wants and she is disappointed. Who cares?

Posted by: bob12 | November 19, 2009 5:46 AM | Report abuse

Graham is so pathetic that he gives RINOS a bad name.

Posted by: fenoy | November 19, 2009 6:03 AM | Report abuse

You expected much better of Graham??

Then you must live in a dream world.

Graham is looking out for Graham. He is taking heat from the tea baggers, the "religious right," the Palinistas, and the rest of the nutty-as-a-fruitcake crowd that is today's Republican Party. He is in the survival mode which means he'll do anything necessary to keep their votes. He saw what happened to an honest Republican in NY-23 and he's not about to let that happen to him.

Watch for Graham to continue his run to the right.

Posted by: OldRedneck | November 19, 2009 6:11 AM | Report abuse

This sounds just like what I would expect from Graham. You should listen to his pants wetting, un-American rationale for not trying the Gitmo criminals in federal court. Classic GOP blather and he's been doing it since the Clinton impeachment in the House.

Posted by: FiddleDeeDee | November 19, 2009 6:26 AM | Report abuse

waaa waaaa waaa. oh you poor lefties, do you need some kleenex? get a life..

Posted by: SMWE357 | November 19, 2009 6:38 AM | Report abuse

JoeBridgeman

"it's only apt to give the gop a taste of its own medication"

Actually it is the Democrats who are getting at taste of their own medicine. This is clear to anyone who can think.

FiddleDeeDee -

Thanks for being the latest in a long, long line of liberals who question the patriotism of others.

Graham's civil questions of Holder were quite appropriate and if you actually watched the exchange, you would see that Holder has clearly thought about the most basic consequences of his new plan. For example, Holder was asked if Bin-Laden would be tried in a civilian court? Holder did not know. Graham asked if Bin-Laden would be read Miranda rights. Holder did not know. Make whatever knee-jerk, patriotism-questioning attacks you want, but this is another absurd decision that will come back to haunt us.

Posted by: bobmoses | November 19, 2009 6:56 AM | Report abuse

Graham is just getting to be an obstructionist jerk.

Posted by: digby2 | November 19, 2009 7:14 AM | Report abuse

This was a tactical vote that Graham (and McCain for that matter) was able to cast because he knew that it would be defeated. He needs to cast this sort of vote when he can--without doing any harm--in order to protect his standing in his party caucus for those times when he is seriously in opposition.

Posted by: rspound21 | November 19, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

The GOP = The American Taliban..

Posted by: VietVet68 | November 19, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Hypocrites all! You can't believe a word they say.

Posted by: L-D-M | November 19, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Graham got his wrist slapped by the party, so now he lost his principles. He's a coward.

Posted by: jckdoors | November 19, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

All politicians are hypoccrits & liers. Sens. Grham & McCain are one notch worse. Remember during the campaign how many times he glorified the "Gang of 14", bragged about it & accused Obama of not being one of "them"? These idiots think & hope that we have a memory so bad that we wouldn't remember what happened less than 2 years back.

Posted by: sarvenk63 | November 19, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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