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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lindsey Graham stands apart from other Republican senators on Kagan vote


Lindsey Graham and his fellow Republicans have different definitions of doing the right thing.

Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post:

Lindsey Graham is all of 5-foot-7 with his shoes on, but these days he towers above his Senate Republican colleagues.

As the Judiciary Committee held its vote on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on Tuesday afternoon, the seats on either side of Graham were empty. Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and John Cornyn (Tex.), along with Tom Coburn (Okla.), showed their contempt for President Obama and his nominee by skipping the vote -- just as they had done 51 weeks earlier for the vote on Sonia Sotomayor.

Graham delivered his "yes" vote -- the only such vote by a Republican on the panel -- with a rebuke for both sides, particularly his fellow Republicans who have become so reflexive in their opposition to Obama that they are distorting their constitutional duties.

"I think there's a good reason for a conservative to vote yes, and that's provided in the Constitution itself," Graham told his peers before reading to them from Federalist No. 6, by Alexander Hamilton. "The Senate should have a special and strong reason for the denial of confirmation," he read, such as "to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from family connection, from personal attachment and from a view to popularity."

Graham said Kagan "has passed all those tests" envisioned by the Framers, then he challenged his colleagues: "Are we taking the language of the Constitution that stood the test of time and basically putting a political standard in the place of a constitutional standard? That's for each senator to ask and answer themselves."

He reminded his colleagues that "no one spent more time trying to beat President Obama than I did, except maybe Senator McCain." But "President Obama won," he said, and "the Constitution in my view puts a requirement on me as a senator to not replace my judgment for his, not to think of the 100 reasons I would pick somebody differently or pick a fight with Ms. Kagan."

"Objectively speaking, things are changing, and they're unnerving to me," Graham's lecture continued. It is, he said, "our obligation to honor elections" -- an obligation that led him to vote "yes" for Kagan. "It would not have been someone I would have chosen," he said, "but the person who did choose, President Obama, I think chose wisely."

Less than an hour after the vote, pundits were assessing the political damage to Graham. The Post's Chris Cillizza judged that the vote for Kagan "ensures he will face a serious primary challenge in 2014."

Probably true. Luckily there are still a few lawmakers who believe there are bigger things than politics.

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