Lindsey Graham: The Politician You Wouldn’t Want to Be This Week

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Politics is a rough business, and there are many days it doesn’t pay to be the man or woman in the limelight. Everyone from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) to President Barack Obama can attest to this; you wouldn’t want to be Christie the week Bridgegate broke or Obama just after Healthcare.gov’s disastrous rollout. This week, the politician you most certainly don’t want to walk in the shoes of is Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

In a Fox News interview, Graham drew fire for what can only be labeled as feverish hysterics over Obama’s strategy against ISIL. Obama announced his plan going forward last week in a statement, and needless to say, many responded critically. Graham’s reaction may have gone a little over the top, however, drawing both laughter and ire.

This is a war we’re fighting; it is not a counter-terrorism operation, this is not Somalia, this is not Yemen. This is a turning point in the war on terror, our strategy will fail yet again. This President needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home,” said Graham. His reaction, very much in keeping with his reputation for dramatic statements, led to a particularly painful — but hilarious — piece from Jon Stewart on Graham’s fear mongering rhetoric.

“The poor man lives his entire life trapped in the blair with project. For god’s sake, I have seen chihuahua in handbags who are less fretful and shaking,” joked Stewart on The Daily Show. Comedy truly is one of the sharper blades, as Tina Fey proved with Sarah Palin. Sadly, Jon Stewart isn’t likely to be the Tina Fey of Graham, who has been making comments of a similar nature for years. However, he did spark an onslaught of blush-inducing headlines. You know you’re having a bad week when news feeds are dominated with titles like:

See Jon Stewart’s Priceless Impression Of Lindsey Graham Scaring Himself” — from The Huffington Post.

“Jon Stewart Completely Emasculates Lindsey Graham For His Fearmongering Over ISIS” — from Crooks and Liars.

“How Lindsey Graham Succumbed To The Tactics of Terror And Embarrassed His Nation” — from Forbes.

Of course, last but not least, “Lindsey Graham: OMG we’re all gonna die!!!!!” — from The Atlantic Journal.

Kevin O’Keeffe of The Wire even suggested that, “Sen. Lindsey Graham may need a hug. Or a teddy bear.”

Last week, on September 11, Graham tweeted comparably critical and alarm-raising commentary. “Last night President Obama tried to tell us that as a nation we’re safer today than we’ve ever been. Do you agree with that? I don’t,” he wrote. The timing of his remarks — while perhaps appropriate if your goal is to inspire fear and uncertainty — were both insensitive and pointless. Fear shouldn’t be a political goal, but Graham doesn’t seem to agree.

Spouting real and imaginary dangers at every opportunity is hardly a constructive way to bring about whatever actions Graham is hoping to emphasize. The issue is not with his concerns about ISIL. Many politicians were critical of Obama’s comments on Somalia and Yemen being success stories, and many in the GOP felt he downplayed the dangers America faces. But Graham’s rhetoric is not reasoned and impassioned — simply angry and grasping.

Last year around this time, Graham was spouting similarly dramatic but not constructive input. “Within six months — and you can quote me on this — there will be a war between Iran and Israel over their nuclear program,” he said, according to U.S. News and World Report, claiming that Iran would also pass on this technology to enemies of the U.S. “My fear is that it won’t come to America on top of a missile, it’ll come in the belly of a ship in the Charleston or New York harbor,” said Graham.

At the time, this too was labeled “fear mongering,” and apparently this is going to be a yearly tradition in September with Graham. As some Americans raise flags or mourn lost loved ones from the September 11 attacks, others reflect on where the nation has gone, and where it’s going. Graham, on the other hand, will do the grim nation a favor and spit out material for Jon Stewart to whip into easy comedy.

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Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS