One of the most unexpected aspects of the Kavanaugh confirmation fight was Sen. Lindsey Graham’s emergence as a champion of the conservative right. Graham, a Republican senator representing South Carolina since 2003, has long been attacked as a “RINO” by Republicans, but now many Republicans are celebrating “Lindsey Graham 2.0.”
In the wake of the confirmation, Graham seems to be ready to continue in his newly aggressive persona. The next target of Senator Graham’s ire is none other than Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who Graham attacked on Fox News Sunday yesterday for politicizing the confirmation process.
Graham held up a list of judges to Chris Wallace and said, “This is a list that was compiled in November, but [Trump] actually put it out during the campaign.” The senator then rhetorically asked Schumer, who was not present, “There are twenty-something people on this list; I'm asking Chuck Schumer, name five, name three, name one that would be okay with you.”
“Brett Kavanaugh was a mainstream judge I would've chosen if I had been president. [Former President George W.] Bush supported him. Everybody running for president on our side believes that Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch were outstanding conservative jurists. The other side wants to cancel the election,” Graham said. “So, Chuck, you want someone new? Look at this list and see anybody you agree to, but what you want to do, Senator Schumer, is to overturn the election. We are not going to let you pick the judges. If you want to pick judges, then you need to win the White House. When Obama won that, I voted for two judges that he picked. So, Chuck Schumer, name one person on this list you think is acceptable.”
In fact, Brett Kavanaugh was first mentioned as a possible appointment to the Supreme Court by 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Kavanaugh’s name was circulated on an unofficial list of Supreme Court nominees circulated in October 2012 by the Romney campaign. President Trump’s first appointment to the Court, Neil Gorsuch, also made Romney’s short list.
Lindsey Graham first emerged as a hero to the Republicans who formerly reviled him on Sept. 27 when he delivered a fiery attack on Democrats after the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who he called a “nice lady, who has come forward to tell a story that's uncorroborated.” Graham added, “I'm not going to reward people for playing a political game” by hiding the accusation until the end of the hearings to delay the confirmation vote.
A week later, Graham was back, telling a protester, “You've humiliated this guy enough and there seems to be no bottom for some of you.”
“Why don't we dunk him in water and see if he floats?” Graham added, alluding to an old method of testing women accused of being witches.
In the midst of the battle, Graham also became a popular meme. A picture posted to Twitter by Benny Johnson of the Daily Caller shows the smooth South Carolinian straightening his tie with a smile as an anti-Kavanaugh protester screams in the background.
Despite Graham’s newfound support for President Trump, his popularity among Republicans probably won’t last. Graham’s support for immigration reform once earned him the moniker “Grahamnesty” among the immigration hardliners who form Trump’s base. Like John McCain, Graham also has a history of crossing the aisle to work with Democrats on issues like climate change. So far, there is no indication that he has changed his mind on these issues.
“I’ve been applauded, and I’ve been a-booed,” Graham told reporters last week. “I know my day will come. I’ll do something that this moment in time will pass. I’ll talk about climate change and overturning Citizens United. These things come and go.”
For now, though, Graham is riding high in conservative circles and will help Republican candidates rally the base ahead of the midterm elections. “I've never campaigned against a colleague in my life,” Graham said, “but that's about to change. I'm going to go throughout this country to let people in these purple states, red states were Trump won, know what I thought, know what I think about this process.”
Originally published on The Resurgent