Lindsey Graham slams Glenn Beck; "Birthers" are "crazy" (The Atlantic's First Draft of History)
The Atlantic is conducting a corporate-sponsored series of interviews they call the "First Draft of History". Me, I call them EstablishmentHackapaooza. Earlier today, one segment featured Sen. Lindsay Graham being interviewed by Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic (firstdraftofhistory.theatlantic.com/analysis/graham_the_loyal_opposition.php). As could be expected, Graham wasn't exactly challenged on the various things he said. Goldberg is just a hack; if anyone wants politicians to actually be challenged on the things they say you have to do it yourself.
While some of what Graham said wasn't that objectionable (pledging to give Obama "the political support he needs to win these two wars that we're in"), other bits were:
As for the fringe elements of the right (the birthers, for example) Graham said Republicans have to call them out--have to police their own ranks.
"We have to say that's crazy," Graham said when The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg asked him about the conspiracy theories that have sprung up on the right.
"So I'm here to tell you that those who think the president was born somewhere other than Hawaii are crazy. He's not a Muslim. He's a good man," Graham said. (A comment that prompted Goldberg to ask if the two are mutually exclusive. Some explaining ensued.)
When asked how he communicates that sentiment to the conspiracy theorists themselves, Graham was blunt: "When I go to town-hall meetings, say, 'You're crazy.' In a respectful way"--a comment the audience seemed to enjoy.
Actually, what's 'crazy" is believing that Obama has definitely proven that he was born in Hawaii. The strongest evidence of that is one (1) statement from a Hawaiian official who then rhetorically stormed off in a huff. Obviously, Graham is lacking either the intelligence or the integrity to differentiate between believing and knowing for a fact. It's very highly likely that Obama was born in Hawaii, but it's not yet a fact until much stronger evidence is provided. See the Obama citizenship issue for the details.
Talk radio contributes to the right's less constructive tones, Graham suggested, drawing a parallel between the conservative airwaves and the left's MoveOn.org. When asked about Glenn Beck, the newest conservative-commentary phenom (though, as Graham noted, Beck isn't necessarily a voice of the conservative clique, but rather his own beast), Graham said:
"Only in America can you make that much money crying...I mean, you know, what [do] I think about Rush Limbaugh? Well, I think he makes hundreds of millions of dollars being able to talk on the radio."
But the real question, according to Graham, is: "how many people in my business are going to be controlled by what's said on the radio or in a TV commercial...Glenn Beck is not aligned with any party as far as I can tell. He's aligned with cynicism, and there's always been a market for cynicism."
There are just too many challenges facing the country to allow that cynicism to permeate, Graham implied.
UPDATE: He was apparently going for the hat trick (link):
Graham lauded Mr. Obama for energizing young people and also engaging Hispanic voters, which he said Republicans had turned off with rhetoric on immigration "coming out of certain quarters of our party."
In addition to CBS News, others happy about his performance include Mark Silva of the Chicago Tribune (link), Amanda Terkel of ThinkProgress (thinkprogress.org/2009/10/01/graham-beck), and Sam Stein of the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/01/sen-graham-calls-beck-a-c_n_306434.html). Graham is helping them while hurting the GOP. It would be possible for him to be centrist in his positions without at the same time hurting his party, but Graham is either too unintelligent or too corrupt (in the broad sense) to figure out how to do that.