Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Republican Truthtellers

The Moose is looking for a few good elephants.

The Moose is an independent beast, although he is inclined toward the donkey. That doesn't mean he can't say good things about Republicans - even about those with whom he has differences. Indeed, the Moose believes that we need more bi-partisan comity in the pastures of Washington.

As the Moose noted in the previous post, we are also in desperate need of Republican truthtellers in this era of Bush mendacity. There are a notable few - Hagel, McCain, Chafee and Shays, but independent GOP voices are a rarity in this era of Rovian retribution

Another Republican truthteller is Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. While the Clinton impeachment was the wrong thing to do, even as an Impeachment Manager, Graham would not buy all the charges. Indeed, he now appears to have a good relationship with Hillary who serves with him on the Armed Services Committee. Graham also bucked the Republican establishment and supported John McCain for President. And unlike many on the knee-jerk right, Graham resolutely demanded answers from the Pentagon on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Now, he is once again bucking right wing orthodoxy by proposing a large payroll tax increase for upper bracket taxpayers to pay for social security personal accounts. Robert Novak wrote,

"He states two axioms his fellow conservatives will not address. First, Social Security -- the government's most popular program -- cannot be saved without "some sacrifice." Second, the personal accounts Republicans want cannot be passed without bipartisan cooperation -- meaning a high-profile Democratic co-sponsor."

Even if you're opposed to partial privatization, one can recognize that Graham's stance takes some gumption because it violates three basic principles of the contemporary right. First, it requires the comfortable to sacrifice. Second, it requires that Republicans actually attempt to pay their bills. And third, it suggests collaboration with the donkey enemy.

In addition to his independence, Lindsey Graham is genuinely funny. A sense of humor is a rare quality among elected officials. Unless you are laughing at them, Senators and Congressman are largely a dour and humorless lot.

If Graham continues to challenge the Republican orthodoxy, he will undoubtedly face retribution from the Republican establishment. But Graham is sufficiently conventionally conservative on a range of other issues to protect him from internal party criticism.

In the next few years, donkeys will find allies in unlikely places. For example, if Democrats have the audacity to take on the issue of wasteful pork barrel spending and corporate welfare, they might even find an ally in Tom Coburn who makes Santorum look like a Deaniac. Democrats must be creative in exploiting the contradictions in the Republican party and that means occasionally finding themselves with strange bedfellows and hopefully with Republican straight shooters like Lindsey Graham.
-- Posted at 3:01 PM | Link to this post | Email this post