Lindsey Graham would like you to think he’s a maverick in the model of his old friend, John McCain. But the senior Senator from South Carolina showed his true colors with his shameful behavior during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation.
Well, on Monday night, Graham will once again show us that his “maverick” act is a sham. He spent Monday on the stump with fellow Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, despite her recent penchant for racially-tinged dog whistling.
In case Graham hasn’t been paying attention, Hyde-Smith has blown so many dog whistles of late that it’s a wonder she hasn’t started whistling “Dixie” during a speech. It started earlier in November, when blogger Lamar White caught Hyde-Smith on tape joking about wanting to be on hand for a public hanging.
Hyde-Smith has been an elected official in Mississippi for almost two decades. Before her appointment to the Senate, she spent 12 years in the state senate and six years as agriculture commissioner. If you believe a veteran elected official in a state with such a fraught racial history wouldn’t have known what she was doing when she made those remarks, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. And that would be true even if Hyde-Smith wasn’t running against a black man, former federal Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy.
It’s why her attempt to apologize at last week’s debate against Espy fell flat. Or at least, it would have fallen flat just about anywhere else. Watch here.
Hyde-Smith offered a classic “sorry if anyone was offended” no-pology, but couldn’t even get that right. She claimed her remarks had been “turned into a weapon” against her. Anyone payin attention would recall that she was echoing her previous attempt to deflect the controversy as an attempt to make a big deal out of “an exaggerated expression of regard.”
Since then, we have learned that Hyde-Smith has proudly posed with Confederate gear and once introduced a state senate resolution honoring a Confederate soldier’s fight to “defend his homeland.” She also has her daughter enrolled at a private school in their hometown of Brookhaven, south of Jackson, which is a segregation academy in all but name; it has 395 students–and all but nine are white.
All of this has made what should be a snoozer of a race very interesting. A recent poll only had Hyde-Smith leading by five, which is absolutely staggering in a state which is usually an automatic six-vote deposit in the GOP’s electoral vote account. Corporate donors are fleeing in droves.
Yet one person isn’t fleeing her–the man who would have you believe he’s a maverick.
Oh, Lindsey. Have you been paying attention? Hyde-Smith also thinks it’s not a big deal to joke about lynching, thinks any attempt to call her on it is politically motivated, and waxes nostalgic about the Confederacy in a way that no elected official should.
Oh, and about Kavanaugh? If you’ll remember, Hyde-Smith didn’t say a word when Trump saw fit to trash Kavanaugh’s main accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, at a rally for her earlier this fall.
A real maverick wouldn’t be anywhere near Hyde-Smith right now. But Graham seems to have no problem being by her side. If we ever needed proof that Graham’s “maverick” act is a fraud, here’s the strongest proof yet.
It’s tempting to chalk this up to Graham fearing a primary challenge when he’s up for a fourth term in 2020. Admittedly, the possible alternatives on the GOP side aren’t very palatable–like Trey Gowdy, Joe Wilson, Jeff Duncan or Mick Mulvaney. But if Graham is so worried about guarding his right flank that he has to beclown himself and bring shame upon his state, it says a lot about him–and it isn’t good.
By all rights, Hyde-Smith should be winning this by 15 or more. Anything less than a double-digit win in a state this congested red will be a black eye on the GOP. If Graham sees fit to hang around her, perhaps it’s time for South Carolina Dems to find and fund someone who can at least have enough in the tank to hand the GOP another shiner in 2020.
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