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You’re a Strange One, Mister Graham

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Artist’s rendering of South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham. Courtesy / Donkey Hotey

People: A deal has been struck. Congress is poised to pass a short-term government funding measure and a slightly longer-term hike in the never-ending quagmire that is the debt ceiling. Obamacare will not be defunded. The House and the Senate will get to work on long-term budget negotiations with a report due in mid-December. John Boehner’s House will have to lean heavily on Democratic votes to pass this, but it should be fine. Spending going forward will remain at grinding sequester levels.

This is exactly what the U.S. House of Representatives could have passed on September 30, the last day before the shutdown and what could have, in its exact current state, cleared the chamber then, so hooray! It was all for nothing.

It isn’t quite clear exactly what we the American people, or them the American lawmakers, have learned in the intervening weeks since the shutdown. Maybe nothing. But at least there has been an embarrassment of funny quotes bandied about during this latest bullshit crisis. You have seen them on the news! You have read them in the papers! America has alternately laughed at them and cried because of them! But this latest quote from South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, as Talking Points Memo reports, might be the perfect finale—the rhetorical cherry on top—for this political nonsense.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told TPM that he was “proud” of Speaker John Boehner’s handling of the fiscal crisis but thought Democrats should have been more flexible with Republicans.

Said Graham: “We won’t be the last political party to overplay our hand. It might happen one day on the Democratic side. And if it did, would Republicans, for the good of the country, kinda give a little? We really did go too far. We screwed up. But their response is making things worse, not better.”

What makes Graham think that the Republicans won’t be the last party to overplay its hand in this particular way? The Democrats have their problems—and God only knows what President Obama is planning to cave on during upcoming budget negotiations (I suspect it is something)—but, to their credit, the Democrats do seem to understand that legislators should not shut down the government over one pet policy issue or ever even flirt with a sovereign debt default. 

This Republican Party seems to have no idea how easy they make life for Democrats—politically, at least. Look at all the technical glitches Obamacare has had in the first couple weeks since the exchanges went online. That could have been a problem. Instead it was a relatively small news story, because the GOP strategists apparently thought the better headline to lead and end each day since mid-September should be “Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Insane Republican Lawmakers are DESTROYING EVERYTHING.” Some version of this headline has been plastered on newspaper front pages the world over and scrolled across the screens of every twenty-four hour news network, excepting perhaps the ever fair and balanced Fox News.

So, no, Senator Graham, it does not appear that Democrats—even the goddamn Democrats–will make this specific mistake. Indeed, the odds are shockingly high that Cruz will once again “lead” his party, and the country, into another shutdown come January. The problem here is solely on your end, Senator Graham, and you’re begging the wrong people for mercy.