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Lindsey Graham: The Backstory

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Of all the elected officials who can discuss Sonia Sotomayor’s compelling “life story” it is Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who is best qualified. No one – no Democrat or Republican in Washington or on the national scene has a more compelling life story than does Lindsey. I don’t know many elected officials on the national scene – ever – who have had a more compelling life story than Lindsey.

The problem is Lindsey Graham doesn’t use his story as a crutch, or an excuse, or a way to get votes. If he were a Democrat he might. But Lindsey is a Republican. He is a responsible adult, a man who had to grow up very early in life in order to take responsibility for an aging father who was ill, a cancer ridden mother, and a much younger sister.

Do parts of his story sound familiar?

In many ways it isn’t much different from the fab, celebrated lyric life story of Barack Obama. Only there is one huge difference. Lindsey Graham did not blame the world. He did not become an activist or a community organizer hanging out with individuals who hate our country. He did not act like a spoiled child of fairly well off grand-parents, which Barack Obama actually was.

He did not skulk off to smoke pot, deal a little, and “chill” like some elected officials we could name.

No, Lindsey grew up very quickly.

Lindsey came from what would be considered a working family. His father owned a bar and pool hall in Central South Carolina. His family did not have jobs like Obama’s grandmother, who was the VP of a bank. They were ordinary working people, struggling to make ends meet.

Lindsey’s mother died of cancer while he was still in college. His father did not survive much longer. Their medical expenses were a crushing inheritance. Did Lindsey demand socialized medicine? Did he blame his plight on those who had more than he did? No, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work. He adopted his younger sister and arranged for her to live with his aunt and uncle who were very kind, very hard working people.

Instead of hanging out with former terrorists and damning the United States, Lindsey too went to law school. As soon as he graduated he joined the Air Force becoming one of the top prosecutors in Europe for the Air Force.

He paid off all of his parents’ medical debts.

He made sure his sister was loved and well cared for, paying for all of her expensive.

He never once blamed anyone.

Once back home after a very successful military career, Lindsey joined the Air Force Reserves. He joined a law firm partnered by one one of my father’s oldest friends. Lindsey never thought about politics until Ed Mitchell came calling.

Ed Mitchell was the chairman of the Oconee County GOP. He was also a power-house when it came to candidate recruitment. In a very short time he managed to talk Lindsey into running for the South Carolina State House.

Around that same time Lindsey took on a case involving a young man who was mistreated in a local emergency room. The physician involved had been a very good friend and neighbor of his law partner for a good 25 years. His wife was my mother’s best friend. His daughters were the best friends of my sister and I.

As a litigator Lindsey is a pit bull. Family alliances were destroyed. Friendships were frayed. In the end, Lindsey won.

During that that period I happened to give Lindsey one of my infamous “tongue lashings”. It wasn’t nice. Neither was I. Not long after the incident I learned something that completely changed the story. Once in awhile I do take responsibility for my bad behavior. This was one of those times. I apologized to Lindsey. Also by that time we had become friends, despite the lawsuit.

My apology cleared the air, and did one other thing. Lindsey’s reply to my apology convinced me that he is one of the most honorable, if not THE most honorable person I’ve ever known. He knew the story, knew the truth, and allowed me to defame him, even in public. Why? Lindsey Graham did not want to speak ill of this person to me because Lindsey knew about my family’s relationship with this person. Instead Lindsey allowed me to defame him until I eventually learned the truth.

That is the behavior of a man.

Lindsey is a self made man, taking charity from no one, asking for none, paying off bills he could have ignored, and turning his life into a great success story.

He took responsibility for his younger sister.

If Lindsey isn’t the perfect example of a Republican, I don’t know who or what is. To hear conservatives malign, denigrate, and lie about him is difficult. He is a friend. I don’t like to see people mistreat my friends.

Lindsey Graham is one of the most honorable, decent men who has ever served in Washington. To me, he is the perfect Republican.

He is pragmatic, unafraid to rock the boat and take a stand on a subject that is not popular. He tells the truth. He is so honorable that he will allow himself to be mistreated the way the anti-immigration supporters such as Michelle Malkin, the Ron Paul Bots, the CofCC, and Stormfront do rather than support the forces of evil. He takes the long, winding road that is not easy to travel.

He makes people like Malkin, Rush, and the far right non-GOP hacks who criticize him look like the very small, bitter people they actually are.

It’s too bad conservatives don’t have the honor, decency, and honesty to stand up for men and women who are the finest examples of the character that has made this country great.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a Lindsey Graham Republican. Being a Lindsey Graham Republican is no different from being a Ronald Reagan Republican. It’s the same thing.

It really doesn’t matter if certain conservatives criticize Lindsey for being a “RINO”. In Lindsey’s case, it is not because he isn’t conservative enough, but because he refuses to bow to their demands. Lindsey does not compromise what he believes even when it would be easier for him to do so. He is one of the few elected officials who chooses honor and integrity over political expediency, no matter how badly conservatives treat him. Then again, liberals treat him the same way. Evidently he’s doing something right.

If Lindsey Graham believes he is right, it doesn’t matter how badly he is treated. It doesn’t matter what people say about him. It doesn’t matter how badly he is threatened. He is going to stand up for what he thinks is right, no matter what the personal and professional consequences.

I wish the rest of our elected GOP officials had half his honor and integrity. He has standards and he knows how to use them. It’s too bad the “conservatives” who denigrate him don’t have even a small percentage of his standards, honor, integrity, and decency. We would have a better party and a better country.

P. S. If Lindsey does have a dirty little secret, it’s golf. He’s basically addicted.

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About SJ Reidhead

  • Arch Conservative

    As far as I know he’s the only transgender member of Congress.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    First of all, thank you for a beautiful piece. Your presentation of Senator Graham has changed my opinion of him. Too bad John McCain didn’t chose him over the Far Right’s demands.

    It’s too bad conservatives don’t have the honor, decency, and honesty to stand up for men and women who are the finest examples of the character that has made this country great.

    That’s where I might take exception. The MSM and public in general are branding today’s GOP as conservatives. I assure you, they are not. The people who are in control of the party are driven by greed and power. They have no social consciousness yet they claim to be the bastion of morality. The truth is that gay marriage, abortion rights and environmental concerns are quintessential conservative values. The Democrat Party has taken these issues and made them their own. What the GOP needs more than ever is a political high colonic to expel the fundamentalist bacteria from within.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    But isn’t it the case, Silas, that what we’re experiencing is polarization on a new scale, brought about no question by Obama’s November victory. So where else can the Reps find their base than in the fundamentalists, the Christian Right, that is, and the last bastion of outdated morality? That’s the only power play that’s left to them.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    I think that the Far Right is kicking and screaming all the way to the gallows. There’s a new generation transitioning into power, Roger. Now the new leaders can succumb to the Svengalis on K Street at which point it will be business as usual. Otherwise, there is scant hope that this new generation gets its act together to clean up the mess we’ve left behind.

    The problem is that genuine conservatives somehow lost their identity. A genuine conservative is not a religious fanatic but takes a more pragmatic view of religion and its influence on politics. As the pundits are saying, this Administration and the current Democrat configuration is Center Right. That puts Far Righters in a box. They have nothing left but their so-called faith. And, as in the case of Senator Ensign, it’s coming back to bite them in the butt.

  • James

    I wish to focus of the affects Sen. Graham’s votes have on America. He is a man of accomplishment. He is a man of good character, BUT it is about HIS VOTES FOR THE LEFT. Sen. Graham empowers liberal causes.End of argument: Why He Needs to be replaced!!!!!!!!!!

  • Bob

    This is a total crock. It does an ugly disservice to Senator Graham by drawing at best an invidious comparison and, more likely at worst, spewing racist innuendo.

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

  • cleveland elliott

    I think Mr. Graham is a fine gentleman. I would like to see him run for POTUS.

    We need someone that can get most of the votes and still hold on to some of the old beliefs. We do not need to get too liberal. I disagree with him at times,but he is still a good man

    Thank you

    Cleve Elliott

  • Sue Golden

    Ummmm…medical bills are NOT inheritable.

    His actions of late are far from honorable.

  • Igor

    In the past Graham has sometimes shown signs of being a principled statesman looking out for the interests of all Americans. But then he slips into republican partisanship that makes him look really bad.

  • Diane

    Interesting article. He should be respected as a leader. However some of his speeches,comments and actions are just like any other politician ::They don’t let the facts get in the way of the truth