Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 25, 2010

GRAHAM ASKED FOR 'STEPPED UP' ACTION ON IMMIGRATION.... Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is so upset that Dems might take up immigration reform this year, he's prepared to kill his own tri-partisan climate/energy bill. Some of his concerns are reasonable -- Graham was told the climate bill would be considered before immigration, and now he'd been led to believe otherwise.

But before anyone feels too sympathetic for Graham, let's not lose sight of one key detail: Democrats are, to a certain extent, doing what Graham asked them to do.

The South Carolina Republican began working on a bipartisan immigration reform proposal with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) last October. On March 11, they met with President Obama at the White House to go over their plan, and get the presidential green light to continue. Soon after, the two senators co-wrote an op-ed insisting that the status quo on immigration policy is "badly broken," and the nation's "security and economic well-being depend" on the kind of reform Graham and Schumer are proposing.

It was around that time that Graham publicly stated his hopes that Obama would get more involved in pushing immigration reform, in order to give it a chance to pass this year.

Graham ... said Obama's lack of direction on immigration reform is hampering Graham's efforts to recruit additional Republicans to the cause.

"At the end of the day, the president needs to step it up a little bit," Graham told POLITICO on Tuesday.

The president apparently agreed. The West Wing started taking immigration reform far more seriously, and the president even started reaching out to other Republican senators about generating some broader support for immigration reform this year. Obama, in other words, took Graham's advice.

And now Graham is furious about it. Worse, he's prepared to kill both the climate bill and the immigration bill because he's outraged over the latter being prioritized over the former.

In terms of the calendar, I'm generally inclined to agree with Graham's larger point -- given that the climate bill has already passed the House, and so much of the legwork has already been done for the next round, it makes sense to me for the Senate to finish Wall Street reform, then tackle energy, then immigration. I'm even inclined to agree with Graham that Dems are using political considerations, not policy goals, to prioritize between the competing policies.

But by threatening to kill both of the efforts he's already invested so much time in, Graham is overreacting on an almost comical scale. Graham can't call on the president to step up on immigration, and then throw a fit when the president does as he asks.

It's enough to make me wonder if, perhaps, Lindsey Graham wasn't really serious about either initiative, and last night's tantrum is the result of a senator who's negotiated in bad faith.

Steve Benen 12:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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It's enough to make me wonder if, perhaps, Lindsey Graham wasn't really serious about either initiative, and last night's tantrum is the result of a senator who's negotiated in bad faith.

No, really??? What gave you your first clue? /end snark

Posted by: Michael W on April 25, 2010 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

It's simple, Steve. Lindsey was attacked last week by local Teabaggers for "cooperating" with Democrats. During these same diatribes, he was accused of (OMG!) being gay. In this neck of the woods, that is just as bad as having brown skin.

Now, in order to prove his critics wrong, he is now throwing a hissy fit. So, all will be forgiven with the wingnuts, right?

Not.

Posted by: Sandlapper on April 25, 2010 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's enough to make me wonder if, perhaps, Lindsey Graham wasn't really serious about either initiative, and last night's tantrum is the result of a senator who's negotiated in bad faith.

Steve,
Please don't make the same mistake Obama and Co. are making. Do you not read Digby or Atrios? When will you figure out it's Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football for the millionth time? The last time Republicans bargained in good faith, LBJ was still in office. With Republicans, it's best to believe, at all times, that they aren't negotiating in good faith. Or else it'll just be Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football continuously.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on April 25, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Some of his concerns are reasonable -- Graham was told the climate bill would be considered before immigration, and now he'd been led to believe otherwise."

Why does this matter? They can only do one thing at a time?

Posted by: Jay on April 25, 2010 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Sandlapper beat me to the punch. There's been no mention in any of the reporting about Graham's flip-flop on both the climate change and immigration bills any mention of the disgusting "outing" of Graham at the South Carolina Tea Party rally last weekend.

Even though this won't satisfy the wingnuts, it still gives them what they wanted. At this moment we need Jon Stewart and his gospel choir to tell them what they should do.

Posted by: KevinMc on April 25, 2010 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Graham, one of the impeachers of the 90s, is quickly finding out he is becoming a man without a party!

He better get a better read on the political winds of the day - where can a purported gay Republican Senator who now doesn't wish to help with needed Democratic legislation go at the end of the day? He has gone the distance on climate legislation. He seemed, last year, to be pushing for immigration legislation. But now with the winds swirling so fiercely around his disposition in his own party, he is now unhinging himself to meet what? Reelection? A future presidency? I think not!

Lindsey, come over from the dark side and help America rebuild its decency and self-respect! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 25, 2010 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Graham has clearly negotiated in good faith with regard to the climate/energy bill -- he has negotiated in good faith, and quite successfully, with his fellow "tri-partisan" corporate stooge Senators to turn it into the McCain/Palin 2008 "Energy Plan", with expanded offshore oil drilling, billions of taxpayer dollars squandered on the "clean coal" hoax and the nuclear power boondoggle, inadequate support for renewable energy and efficiency technologies, no effective limits on CO2 emissions, plus prohibitions on either the states or the EPA regulating CO2 emissions.

I'm sure that Graham would really like to see it pass, particularly since it would be promoted by "liberals" as well as "conservatives" as the "final solution" to the global warming problem, and would thereby preclude the possibility of doing what really needs to be done for years to come.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 25, 2010 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Benen: Tattoo this on your forehead and stare at it every morning while you shave: "The GOP Is The Party Of Rule Or Ruin" (be sure to have it applied backwards so it reads correctly).

Posted by: JW on April 25, 2010 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Don't believe Graham's professed reasons. I suspect backroom pressure from other Repubs, or from the base, for having been willing to work with the WH and Dems. It's about GOP purity. Obama et al should learn (should have learned long ago) that there are no reliable partners across the aisle. Not one.

Posted by: DNS on April 25, 2010 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Alternate press release: Today, Senator Graham held a press conference angrily condemning the democrats for giving priority to the climate bill over immigration reform....

See, it's all about getting as many concessions as you can, then walking away. This paints the Democrats as weak, and government as ineffective. Win-win for the Republicans so long as they can filibuster.

Bottom line - Senator Graham was ALWAYS going to walk away from negotiations. This was just a convenient excuse.

Posted by: RepubAnon on April 25, 2010 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Graham isn't gay. He goes both ways.

Or, at least, he tries to HAVE it both ways.

Posted by: Eeyore on April 25, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, a complaint about process rather than policy.

Posted by: Grumpy on April 25, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Puh-leeze... Why can't the MSM just say what everyone knows -- that Graham's feeling the heat from the right wing, and looking for any excuse to weasel out of semi-reasonable positions on two major issues?

Posted by: Geneva Mike on April 25, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Is there any other kind of faith Teabaggers negotiate in?

Posted by: LosGatosCA on April 25, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

you are part of the problem for the reasons described here for the umpteenth time. you will continue to be part of the problem until republican nuts have taken control of the federal state whereupon you will write another silly commentary that once again avoids the obvious.

The republican nuts have a right to be nuts. its a free country. they don't have a right to incompetent competitors but between democrat appartchicks and Genuis Rahm lets just skip the DC democrat incompetence an give the confederate republicans control of the WH, the Supremes, and Congress and see if competent competition will emerge when you appartchiks are disgraced. You and Josh and Drum and the whole hem hawwing smug equivocators who always know everything and always miss the point while you are gettting your ass kicked but know nothing fools.

Pathetic. The NYT times story on Jon Stewart is the perfect illustration of how patehtically incompetent DC democrat appartchicks are. The Johnny Carson of his day to the appartchiks and the doddering old lady appartchicks at the NYT is The Symbol of the Left. And you appartchicks still don't get it.

Posted by: razor on April 25, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Wow wot a dangerous guy

If you wanna live
Treat me good
If you wanna live, and live, and live
Treat me good

I'm like a walkin' razor
Don't watch my size, I'm dangerous
I'm like a walkin' razor
Don't watch my size, I'm dangerous

Well we have been warned , shiver .
Some folks are so gottamightee smartee whooppin hot on the spot it , shames the whole family unit .
Just like an underdone marshmallow at an Olympic Campfire event . Bringing shame on a fish without a bicycle , the horror .

Posted by: FRP on April 25, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Does no one remember the cost Republicans paid for their xenophobic immigration stance in 2006? I think that's what's driving Graham's hissy fit. An immigration battle this summer with teabaggers demonstrating just how equality-challenged Republican conservatives actually are might be just what the doctor ordered for Dems in November.

Posted by: purplehawk on April 25, 2010 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

If, as they are saying in Arizona, they will not racially profile anyone in that state, the logical next step is that everyone there must carry a birth certificate!

Posted by: jJS on April 25, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Just black and brownies should need to explain what they are doing in heaven , I mean Arizona .
The far seeing Sen Graham will see this as a reasonable extention of senatorial courtesy , and permit the president to prove he isn't a pod people invader , who gets ya when yer sleepin .
Hates them pod peoples , to pieces .
Then after a refreshing nap we can get on with starting someting all over again from scratch , umm , just because .

Posted by: FRP on April 25, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Honestly, I have to wonder sometimes about Graham's mental health. I agree with Sandlapper that the latest fit is probably about pressure both from the leadership and the Tea-bagger 'outing' - if he is in fact gay. But he swings back and forth between statesman and wingnut so often and with such intensity that you have to think there are some type of mental/emotional issues involved here.

Posted by: dcsusie on April 25, 2010 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Graham is overreacting on an almost comical scale."

He is, in a word, being infantile.

Posted by: bob h on April 25, 2010 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

Psssst...hey Lindsey...when there's folks out there calling you a closet case, acting like a drama queen probably isn't the best bet. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Jennifer on April 25, 2010 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush Administration tried to push through guest worker/amnesty bills in 2001, 2004, 2006, and 2007, and failed every single time. Why? Because the voters were against it.

Why would the voters be more in favor of it in 2010 when the unemployment rate is skyhigh?

Simple answer: The voters are against it, so the proponents are looking for excuses to abandon ship.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 25, 2010 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Missed the end of the day report, Steve. Hope everything is okay with you and yours.

Posted by: karen marie on April 25, 2010 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Graham knows his constituents better than we do.

If he was, in fact, gay, and it was somewhat well known (i.e., would generally be given tacit credence in South Carolina political circles), the public outing might well provide fuel to any anti-imigration fires breaking out to the right of him, bringing up threshold of tolerance issues with homophobic, conservative southern voters.

If he wasn't (and perhaps in any case), the personal emotional impact of the accusation might regardless be rather stronger than we would think. He might be over-reacting, rather than being all machiavellian-likes.

Posted by: sleepy_commentator on April 25, 2010 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

I see that Caligula's little twerp brother has descended on PA like a shit-shower.

Posted by: exlibra on April 25, 2010 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Oh... The mod must have mopped him up, while I was exercising my two fingers at the keyboard :)

Posted by: exlibra on April 25, 2010 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Though not smart, I can read polls and I can see the trend. Taint hard. Why can't appartchiks?

The Arizona bill passed into law by a lawful democratic process. What democrat governor is now securing borders rather than vetoing such bills? Happy talk it away appartchiks, hem haw happy talk it all away. Hem hawwing happy talking is proof of intellelctual maturity in some circles. Heaven forbid results were the measure of success.

Posted by: razor on April 25, 2010 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Puh-leeze... Why can't the MSM just say what everyone knows -- that Graham's feeling the heat from the right wing, and looking for any excuse to weasel out of semi-reasonable positions on two major issues?"

Because the MSM is a worthless cheerleading section for the wealthy and powerful. They haven't done anything remotely worthwhile since Watergate, and even Bernstein in his latter years has become a worthless shill for the establishment. This country is turning to shite faster than a corned beef sandwich in Russ Limbaugh's colon.

Posted by: jjcomet on April 25, 2010 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Can anyone explain to me why the Senate can't do both?

Posted by: anomimouse on April 26, 2010 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

@anomimouse: What I've read is that Graham wanted to do climate reform first so that immigration wasn't an issue for good buddy John McCain (R-AZ) during his republican primary campaign.

Posted by: sleepy_commentator on April 26, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, a tri-sexual bill huh?! See? Lindsey Graham had everybody fooled!

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