Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, finally spoke wise and encouraging words about the tenor of our national dialog. At last a powerful Republican voice is calling for an end to the insane insults and lies that permeate today's political debate. But will his colleagues accede to his entreaty or will they continue their mischief? What, are you kidding?
Speaking before a conference last week sponsored by The Atlantic, The Aspen Institute and The Newseum, Senator Lindsey Graham said, in answer to a question, "I'm here to tell you that those who think the president was not born in Hawaii are crazy, he's not a Muslim, he's a good man, and let's knock this crap off and talk about the real differences we have."
Senator Graham expressed frustration with both extreme Republicans and Democrats who disseminate misinformation and personal attacks. He went on to blame the lack of civility in today's political arena in part on the voters who elect confrontational representatives to Washington. Senator Graham also blamed the 24-hour news cycle, talk radio and organizations like MoveOn.org.
He was particularly harsh toward Fox News entertainer and gadfly Glenn Beck, saying, "Only in America can you make that much money crying." Declaring Beck does not speak for the Republican Party, he continued, "He is aligned with cynicism and there has always been a market for cynics. But we became a great nation not because we are a nation of cynics. We became a great nation because we are a nation of believers."
However, Senator Graham's criticism of Beck yesterday on Fox News Sunday had a different slant. "I'm not saying he's bad for America," the Senator said, "You have got the freedom to watch him if you choose. He did a pretty good job on ACORN. What I am saying is he doesn't represent the Republican Party."
Then he referred to comments Beck made last week to CBS News anchor Katie Couric that he would have voted for Obama over Senator John McCain. "But at the end of the day," Graham said, "when a person says he represents conservatism and that the country is better off with Barack Obama than John McCain, that sort of ends the debate for me as to how much more I'm going to listen."
Pardon me, Senator, I hate to be cynical, but where were you during the silly season this past summer? You know, when Governor Palin accused the president of wanting to create "death panels?" Or when Beck ranted his ridiculous claims about eugenics? Or Rush Limbaugh called the president a Nazi? Or when the "birthers," fanned by some conservative members of Congress, accused the president of not being a naturalized American? Or, perhaps worse, the president was a Muslim born in Kenya?
Senator, why the sudden urge to take the high road? Do you think these senseless attacks are hurting the Republican Party more than President Obama? Or are you now speaking up because Glenn Beck has insulted your best friend, Senator John McCain. Whatever your motives, Senator, I agree it's time to knock this crap off.
Follow Joe Peyronnin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joepeyronnin