Lindsey Graham: Tea Party Lacks Vision, Will Die Out

While the Tea Party has so far succeeded in purifying the GOP just enough to put a Democrat in office from New York's 23rd Congressional District for the first time in 100 years, as well as in producing luminaries such as famous BP defender Dr. Rand I-created-the-board-that-certified-me Paul and Sharon I-will-sue-you-for-exposing-my-own-positions Angle as Republican Senate nominees, a rift has been slowly forming.  The rift is not so much between the conservatives and moderates in the GOP - the Tea Party movement and the neocons prior to them have successfully purged the GOP of any moderate voices.  The rift, instead, is between the non-thinking, anti-intellectual, knee-jerk, no-on-everything Tea Party and thoughtful, intellectual conservatives.

That rift has now opened up within the blood red state of South Carolina - home of John McCain's protege Sen. Lindsey Graham as well as Tea Party favorite Jim "Waterloo" DeMint.  In a profile, the New York Times' Robert Draper dubs Sen. Graham "This Year's Maverick" and exposes a vulnerable side of Sen. Graham among the Republican base - his intellectual side and his willingness to find common ground.  Now, there is no doubt that Sen. Graham is an arch-conservative, and he has obstructed the vast majority of the Obama agenda.  However, he has shown some willingness to find intellectual common ground, and the reactionary anti-intellectuals are up in arms about this.

Early on in the article, Draper speaks of Graham confronting Tea Party groups with what their vision of America would be, and they did not have one.
On four occasions, Graham met with Tea Party groups. The first, in his Senate office, was “very, very contentious,” he recalled. During a later meeting, in Charleston, Graham said he challenged them: “ ‘What do you want to do? You take back your country — and do what with it?’ . . . Everybody went from being kind of hostile to just dead silent.” 
Of course, that's the truth of the matter. The Tea Partiers have no vision of America (at least nothing that can be mentioned on the record in the 21st century) - they profess their love of America yet do not know what they want to do with this country.  The movement is nothing more than a "No" movement.  "No" to everything that the President, Democrats and progressives want to do.  "No" is their purity test.

This lack of a vision also leads to a lack of leadership.  You know it when a conservative like Graham admits that even the conservative messiah would probably not satisfy the Tea Partiers of today.
“The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out.” Now he said, in a tone of casual lament: “We don’t have a lot of Reagan-type leaders in our party. Remember Ronald Reagan Democrats? I want a Republican that can attract Democrats.” Chortling, he added, “Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today.”
Graham also lambasts the "No" movement for refusing to find common grounds to solve the problems our country faces.  He taunts and takes a shot at the Tea Party in a recent commencement address.
“To the graduates: I’m from the federal government, and I’m here to help you,” he deadpanned to laughter.

my advice to you graduates is when you get out of school and get a job and a family, try to be part of the solution, not the problem. . . . And the only way we’re going to solve these problems is working together.”
While Lindsey Graham has stood opposed to anything resembling progressivism, he has tried to work on issues, even though he has, in my judgment childishly, walked away from his own initiatives like energy legislation with a carbon tax because Majority Leader Reid at one pointed wanted to bring up immigration first.  For trying to work on issues, he earns accolades from President Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.
Emanuel went on to say: “He’s willing to work on more things than the others. Lindsey, to his credit, has a small-government vision that’s out of fashion with his party, which stands for no government. . . . He’s one of the last big voices to give that vision intellectual energy.”
This willingness to seek common ground has made him a pariah among the far right Tea Party anti-tax extremists.  He's seen as making deals with the Devil, and the conservative intellectual lightweights are having none of it.
His greater transgression, however, has been his willingness — even eagerness — to seek common ground with Democrats. For his sins, Glenn Beck termed the senator Obama Lite, while Rush Limbaugh labeled him Lindsey Grahamnesty. Less tame are the blogosphere monikers, like “Miss Lindsey,” that play off of Graham’s never-married status. During a South Carolina Tea Party rally this spring, one speaker created an uproar by postulating that Graham supported a guest-worker program out of fear that the Democrats might otherwise expose his homosexuality.
Graham denied any assertions that he is gay.

Graham's intellectualism and search for common ground hasn't just cost him in the talk radio and Tea Party chatterboxes.  It has hurt his popularity among Republicans, even though it remains high.
[South Carolina political consultant Richard] Quinn’s surveys now find Graham’s approval rating among Republicans at 64, which is 13 points lower than South Carolina’s far more conservative junior senator, Jim DeMint
Of course, Jim DeMint rushed to protect his popularity among the reactionary, anti-intellectual, no-vision-for-America crowd.  He knows on which side his bread is buttered. He knows that if the Tea Party dies out, so will his brand of political theater.
Asked about the comments on "Fox News Sunday," DeMint said "Lindsey’s a great friend, but he’s wrong on this."

"The tea party is just the tip of the iceberg of an American awakening of people that want to take back their government," said DeMint, a vocal leader of the tea party movement. "Americans are going to show in November that they aren’t going anywhere."
Of course, Senator.  You need for an anti-intellectual, no-on-everything, obstructionist, heartless, leaderless, angry movement to last - at least till November so that you can get the keys back of the car you already drove into the ditch once, don't you?  How else will you bring about Waterloo on American soil?

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