“Cordray was being filibustered because we don’t like the law. That's not a reason to deny someone their appointment. We were wrong."
-- Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), to the New York Times
I must acknowledge, it's a little uncomfortable criticizing someone who makes such an admirable admission. And Lindsey Graham's admission is admirable. For anyone to say he or she was wrong is noteworthy. For a senator to do so, is remarkable. And for a Republican senator in today's environment of being lock-step unanimous in his party's five-year attempt to block President Barack Obama is jaw-dropping, to the point of almost unbelieveable.
I wish more senators, indeed more public officials, would admit to being wrong and not have it seen as a sign of personal weakness.
I just wish they'd doing before the fact when it would do some good.
To be very clear, I like that Sen. Graham said that Republicans were wrong. And I doff my cap to him. But unfortunately, I also have to note that this is the Peggy Noonan School of Pseudo-Fairness. That's where you say something that seems so even-handed and fair-minded that you become seen in the public eye as the fair and and objective one, except that you make sure to say it when it's after the fact, and doesn't really mean all that much.
Ms. Noonan, for examples, sat on her pedestal and wrote an article criticizing George Bush, saying how his former supporters now "Grit their teeth" at him, and how she herself was "startled" and "disconcerted" by him. This was a really swell article -- except that it was written during the last months of his presidency, after she had been defending him for almost eight years, as I wrote here, in "Peggy Noonan Feels Really Bad About George Bush." Long after all Democrats had gotten so far past being startled by the president that their grit teeth had been worn to near-chalk. Or there was the article when she slammed Sarah Palin, saying that the former vice-presidential candidate was "Bad for Republicans -- and the Republic." That, too, was noble -- except for the reality that the former half-term governor had long-since lost the race, during which Peggy Noonan had been praising her in hopes of Ms. Palin becoming a heart-beat from the presidency, as I noted here, in "Peggy Noonan Regrets Sarah Palin. A Nation Weeps." If Peggy Noon had gotten her way...when it freaking mattered...this candidate who was "bad" for the Republic would have been elected.
And that's often what Lindsey Graham does. He makes thoughtful, even-handed, graceful, objective comments about policy and political actions -- yet they far too-often come when it doesn't matter. Wen it just makes him look good. (To be fair, not always. Sometimes Mr. Graham speaks up early. But not usually.)
So, while his words sound good, actions really do speak louder. And far too often, Lindsey Graham is just fine taking the wrong route when it counts, and saying otherwise afterwards.
I mean, honestly, did it just occur to Lindsey Graham -- after TWO YEARS blocking Richard Cordray -- that it was "wrong" to do so, just because you don't like the law?? Seriously? Only after voting to approve him, only then it was a revelatory moment that this had been wrong for 730 days? And what about all those other nominees who Republicans and Lindsey Graham had been blocking, and only now finally confirmed. They weren't being blocked because the GOP didn't like some law. They were being blocked because Republicans could., Because Barack Obama had nominated them. Honestly, I think Lindsey Graham -- who's a very smart guy -- knew it was "wrong" all along. He just didn't care. And he didn't care to do anything about it. Other than say, after it was all over with, that it was "wrong."
Swell. Good for him. Truly. I'm glad he said it. It's a good thing. Really.
I just hope the next time his actions really do speak louder than his words.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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