Politico has a great interview with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who, after getting scorched on the Right for his support of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination, hits back at the ideological purists of his party:
Says Graham: “If we chase this attitude … that you have to say ‘no’ to every Democratic proposal, you can’t help the president ever, you can’t ever reach across the aisle, then I don’t want to be part of the movement because it’s a dead-end movement. I have no desire to be up here in an irrelevant status. I’m smart enough to know that this country doesn’t have a problem with conservatives. It has a problem with blind ideology. And those who are ideological-driven to a fault are never going to be able to take this party back into relevancy.”
If only more members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, would take the same attitude, much more could be accomplished to actually address the serious problems of the country. As the article points out, Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg were overwhelmingly approved by the Senate: 98-0 and 96-3 respectively. At that time, Senators who opposed these nominees on the basis of ideology nevertheless realized that they were highly qualified for the bench and that it was the president's prerogative to nominate qualified people to the highest court in the land.
Many groups and commentators do not share this viewpoint, however: "When Sen. Lindsey Graham announced his support for Sonia Sotomayor this week, right-wing radio talk show host Mark Levin said it was a sign that Graham is 'unreliable ... as a thinker and a leader.' Wendy Long, counsel for the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, called it proof that Graham 'still lacks courage, statesmanship and an understanding of the Constitution and rule of law. May his antics get the attention they richly deserve.'" Other hard right commentators were even less generous. Glenn Beck ridiculed Graham for his telling Sotomayor during the hearings that she is likely to get confirmed: "Does anybody remember when Lindsey Graham wasn't a worm?"
Graham, however, defended his decision in the Senate: "Mr. Graham said from the floor that 'elections matter' and that he wanted to give President Obama leeway on his nominees. While acknowledging that a Republican president wouldn’t have chosen someone like the New York judge, Senator Graham said that Judge Sotomayor’s exceptional qualifications as a judge for 17 years and her performance during the hearings assured him that she would not be an 'activist judge' in the way that that term has become perjorative."
Does the fact that Graham is looking beyond politics and ideology a worm? Hardly. I'd call him a statesman.