Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 9, 2010

LINDSEY GRAHAM PULLS AWAY THE FOOTBALL, AGAIN.... For the better part of a year, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) worked with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on a comprehensive climate/energy bill. It was poised to be a pretty strong package, that struck a grand bargain between parties and interests. The result would be a tri-partisan bill that would combat global warming, create new jobs in a growing industry, and reduce the deficit.

But like Lucy, who always pulls away the football and puts Charlie Brown on his ass, Graham has a nasty habit of betrayal.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., [yesterday] said he would vote against a climate change strategy he helped develop with Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., citing new changes that further restrict offshore oil and gas drilling and the bill's impact on the transportation sector.

He said neither that plan nor any energy and climate strategy will get 60 Senate votes this year. Instead, he said, lawmakers next year should work on a strategy that only places a cap on electric utilities while lowering emissions from the transportation sector through increased fuel efficiency and other means that do not involve placing a cap on the sector's carbon emissions.

Graham said his advice to lawmakers is to "start over and scale down your ambitions." ... The statement today is the furthest Graham has gone in divorcing himself from the substance and timing of the efforts of Kerry, Lieberman and other Democrats to pass climate and energy policy this year.

Graham added that the BP oil spill disaster makes this a bad time for policymakers to tackle energy policy. Try to wrap your head around that one.

When Graham first started moving away from his own bill a couple of months ago, plenty of smart, credible observers seemed to think the South Carolinian was still working in good faith, and was arguing from a reasonable position. I disagreed. Yesterday, these observers started coming around -- Jon Chait, for example, said he "greatly overestimated" Lindsey Graham's "sincerity."

Let this be a lesson to all of us: if something important needs to get done, and it's entirely dependent on Graham working seriously towards a policy goal in good faith, prepare to be sorely disappointed.

At this point, Graham is objecting to energy policy provisions he helped write, and his comments on the kind of proposal he'd like to see are bordering on gibberish. Either Graham has no idea what he's talking about after spending months crafting a comprehensive bill, or he's just wildly spinning a ridiculous rationalization for abandoning his own effort.

The consequences of Graham's betrayal are severe. As the need for a comprehensive climate/energy bill becomes overwhelmingly obvious, a Republican filibuster will likely kill all legislative attempts. With Dems likely to lose seats in November, the next attempt to pass meaningful legislation is likely several years away.

It's very hard to be even a little optimistic under the circumstances.

Steve Benen 9:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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Did anyone expect anything different from a Republican.I never figured on tne energy bill to accomplish much of anything.I always expect the worst and then I am not disappointed.

Posted by: edr on June 9, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Lindsey Graham is a dick.

Posted by: David Bailey on June 9, 2010 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

All this means is we are going to have to roll up our sleeves and beat some Republicans this fall. America hangs in the balance. If the Republicans do take the house or senate (or god forbid both) our next two years will be mired in one trumped up investigation after another, maybe even an impeachment. America's long slide into the 2nd world will continue unopposed.

It's time for all good Democrats to get off their asses and work for an American future.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 9, 2010 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Next up from Lindsey: the BP spill makes it impossible to close Gitmo. Wish I were kidding...

Posted by: bh on June 9, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

"Graham added that the BP oil spill disaster makes this a bad time for policymakers to tackle energy policy. Try to wrap your head around that one."

It's not hard to understand if you accept the premise that the policies they are trying to push (greater offshore drilling activity, increased exploration/exploitation of fields like ANWR) are considered WILDLY unpopular right now, then yes, tackling THAT energy policy is a bad idea at this time.

It's like my daughter asking for more candy after a $300, 2 cavity trip to the dentist. Not only no, but HELL NO.

Posted by: polldancer on June 9, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, so then Democrats can move on to crafting an energy and climate change policy that's more than tapping the brakes on a car that's hurtling towards the edge of a cliff.

As I've argued before, it didn't take a "cap" on paper letters to encourage people to move to the use of electronic mail. It didn't take a global treaty setting limits on letters to get people in other countries to start using the internet.

The U.S. government created the foundational infrastructure for the internet. Contracts creating temporary service monopolies brought internet access to most American households. Then once there was a market, innovation by private entrepreneurs drove prices down and exponentially expanded the internet's capability.

So let's begin by having Obama declare that by 2025 every house and building were there is enough sun will have solar panels. Then offer government contracts for companies to produce 20 million or so units -- while requiring at least half of the manufacturing done in the U.S.. Then offer grants and low-interest loans so homeowners and building owners can afford them.

And pass these measures as a budget reconciliation attached to the Energy Dept. or Homeland Security Dept. budgets with 50 + 1 votes in the Senate.

We would create manufacturing jobs and construction jobs. We would cut our use of fossil fuels. And we would set the stage for the U.S. to dominate the renewable energy market the way it has dominated the information and communications markets.

Now all we need is a President who believes in change.

Posted by: SteveT on June 9, 2010 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Never trust a Republican. If Democrats didn't learn THAT lesson during the HCR process, they never will.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on June 9, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

We'd really be better served as citizens if we assigned Congressional seats via random choices from a phone book. Most Congresscritters are just so obviously compromised. Best government money can buy, indeed.

Posted by: terraformer on June 9, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Lu-tea will just keep pulling away, the Dithercrats never learn ...

Posted by: neil b on June 9, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

SteveT's idea is excellent. That an the EPA regulating carbon should do wonders. We need to begin pushing it hard...

Posted by: KK on June 9, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Even my staunch Republican mother doesn't like Graham.

Posted by: Hmmmmm on June 9, 2010 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, add Geo-thermal retro fits into the equation. If I could find a decent contractor in the field I'd do it right now.

Posted by: KK on June 9, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

If it were the best, I wouldn't mind. But it's the WORST government that money can buy, unless of course, you're paying for it, right corporatists? Then, it's a good buy, even if it's "Goodbye" to the country and the planet.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on June 9, 2010 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, my goodness gracious, Graham has, finally, been outed. As a typical RepuG, and Steve is shocked, shocked.

"But, he said he would take me to the Prom".

Posted by: berttheclock on June 9, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Out of curiosity, has there ever been a case where Lindsey Graham can be shown to have actually followed through on "cooperating" with Democrats?

Posted by: biggerbox on June 9, 2010 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

-Add my name to Steve T's fan club!

The file baked in his cake is the MONEY that will be made by Fat Cat 'Murrican Mannyfakures building those solar panels, wind turbines, heat exchangers, yada yada yada.

-And we'll even let them continue to hire illegals under the table to do the actual work.

Maybe there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. Or is that CSX, hauling a string of coal cars?

Posted by: DAY on June 9, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

ZOMG! Steve said "ass"! Where's my fainting couch...?

Posted by: Gregory on June 9, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Can't the EPA just proceed with regulating greenhouse emissions? Because we'll all have icebergs parked in a our front yards before the Senate does anything about it.
All the Senate Dems have to do is make sure the EPA isn't defanged--that will be hard enough.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on June 9, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

In Graham's defense, let me point to the Republican primary results in SC yesterday, where a sitting congressman who'd be considered hard-right most other places just got shellacked for being too "moderate." Just why *should* a Republican try to work with Democrats? On that side of the aisle, bipartisanship gets punished.

Posted by: David in Nashville on June 9, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

I'm inclined to think this is more a measure of Graham's perception of increasing Democratic Party weakness coming into the elections. I bet if the Dems weren't whole-heartedly committed to giving in on every issue then Graham would be more inclined to stick. But where's the down-side for him in pulling this? The downside nowadays is cooperating with the Dems in the first place - that's a highly risky move even for a Senator. At least this way he can say to the 'bagger wing "See, I was only doing it to sabotage it!"

Posted by: JohnR on June 9, 2010 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

"Graham has a nasty habit of betrayal."

Isn't that Lieberman's job?

Posted by: puravida on June 9, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

And the Democrats fall for it again! Sorry guys, but as long as the Democrats continue to cooperate with Graham, and others of his ilk, they will continue to get suckered. And they'll deserve it.

Posted by: Fra Diavolo on June 9, 2010 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

The first thing to do in the next session of Congress is to change the filibuster rules. It's infuriating that 60 votes has become the accepted number for passing anything.

Posted by: frazer on June 9, 2010 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Its Dems that don't get it. As has been said for almost a year, unless Dems end the Senate filibuster, no bill of real or needed consequence is going to get passed. That was partly true for the stimulus bill and really true for greatly weakened health care bill because it was deemed to need a 60 vote cloture. NOTHING else of consequence will pass now.. or in the foreseeable future. Repubs will effectively terminate the filibuster as soon as they return to power, so Dems are not protecting anything for themselves by not overturning one parliamentary procedure by another that ewquires only 50 senate votes (plus Biden).

Posted by: gdb on June 9, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

LG is the typical confused RINO. This is the awkward dance of a politician who wants to balance a desire to impress beltway pundits with the political realities of a conservative constituency.

Posted by: RightKlik on June 9, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Is anyone surprised by this? Any Dem in Congress who is should GTFO of politics.

I got a better idea: make the bill stronger and frame Graham and the GOP as they corporate whores they are. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Dems who are also corporate fellators.

In light of the BP disaster, the energy bill is a prime campaign issue. Dems should embrace it.

Posted by: bdop4 on June 9, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)

This was Doomed from the beginning, I am sure the ballyhoo generated some campaign funds for all three but no person of sound mind ever expected anything worth while out of it.

Posted by: Fed Up and Tired on June 9, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Energy policy is not synonymous with environmental policy. Republicans favor an "all of the above" energy policy that is not congruent with the extreme "green energy" global warmist orthodoxy among Democrats. There is no reconciliation with the Democrat view of a lower income, small planet American using 1/5th the energy it does today, and the Republican vision of high income, big ambition, high growth and full employment. Democrats aren't serious about reducing carbon emissions, with their continuing, outrageous opposition to clean, safe nuclear power. If CO2 is bad for the planet, it's the result of opposition by Democrats of the vibrant American nuclear power industry of the 1970s. Our reliance on deep water drilling and Middle East oil is the legacy of Clinton and Democrat opposition to exploration in the ANWR. Democrats are empty on energy and environmental policy, and their President presiding furtively, impotently, aimlessly over the worst ecological disaster in 100 years, now worse in both environmental and human costs than Hurricane Katrina. We have a navy of over 300 ships, 70+ submarines, an Army Corps of Engineers, a Naval Civilian Engineering Corps, and resources offered by governments all around the world, sitting on the sidelines while Obama does nothing. Worst failure of a President in history, bar none.

Posted by: apetra on June 9, 2010 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Really nice post there, apetra; you rip it off the RNC site?
I mean, it's got everything: lying by commission: "...worse in both environmental and human costs than Hurrican Katrina...", lying by omission: ...Democrats are empty on energy and environmental policy...", and just flat-out, Beck-inspired lunacy: "...Republican vision of high income, big ambition, high growth and full employment." Wow, just wow!
I trust you have already begun a petition to have the very next center to contain spent nuclear fuel placed immediately adjacent to your property, just to show the world how "safe" it is, right? I'm not certain exactly what you think the Army Corps of Engineers can do that far out at sea, bu I can say that I served for 20 twenty years in the USN and there isn't anything that those 370 vessels can do to stop this unparalleled example of the results of unfettered, self-regulated free-market capitalism.
You, on the other hand, should display some of that true American enterprenurial spirit, with which you are so obviously filled, by going to the Gulf and placing your fundament on the broken pipe and allow all the oil to go where, as it's said, "the sun don't shine". I'm certain there's enough room...

Posted by: Doug on June 9, 2010 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

What I love the most is seeing all the people whose jobs have been "taken" by "illegals" fighting so hard to support the very corporations and politicians who gave away those jobs.
"Full employment"??
Yeh, full employment for Chinese slaves, Indian nationals, and Central and South Americans working off the books in the US.
But for citizens of the USA, not so much.
Good job there, apetra!
And when your job, too, goes south -- or east or west -- you'll be the first one screaming for the gummint handouts you now decry. And since we're all good liberals here, we'll be sure you get them -- if the Publicans you helped elect permit, of course.
Fracking moron.
Lick the boots that have kept this generation of Americans down a bit more, why don't you -- maybe they'll stomp a bit less hard next round.

Posted by: smartalek on June 10, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK
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