Is Sen Lindsey Graham Becoming More Conservative? Maybe Not
One of the good things about the entire Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination process was getting to watch Senator Lindsey Graham. In the past few weeks the Senator seems to have gone through a political transformation, but is this new found backbone really who Sen Graham is now or was this just his own job interview? I have three theories as to what exactly may be going on with the Senator.
Lindsey is interviewing to be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee
This is the most probable theory I've seen and the one I'm more inclined to agree with. The theory is that this entire episode has been Lindsey attempting to gain consensus in the Senate to lead the powerful Judiciary Committee. He already has the backing of the establishment members of the caucus, he just needs the conservative wing on board. With Senator Ted Cruz fighting for political survival in a close Senate race in Texas, Lindsey is free to "peacock" as all eyes were on the Judiciary like never before. The main problem with this theory is that why would Graham need consensus with the conservative wing of the Senate? He's a natural shoe-in to get the chairmanship due to his close relationship with Trump and his solid place in the establishment. Also, by doing this he risk alienating his standing in the establishment and polarizing the committee he wishes to lead in the process. This is also in strong contrast to Sen Chuck Grassley's careful leadership of the Judiciary. Still, when juxtaposed to the other theories, this seems like the most likely.
Lindsey really likes this supreme court nominee
My other working theory is that Lindsey just really likes Brett Kavanaugh and he is ticked by how he's been treated. This is the most straightforward answer to what's been happening with Lindsey during this confirmation. The only downside to this theory is that Politicians rarely just do things as a surface level reaction. The majority of the time there are contributing factors. Lawmakers, Senators especially, don't just go off like this unless it was a concerted effort or a new tactic with a desired result. Their comments and lack of comments speak volumes on where they stand on any issue. A good rule of thumb I follow is if a politician is acting out of character, it's probably for some political strategy and rarely for surface level dynamics. Sometimes these things are obvious and other times they aren't.
This is who he is, his relationship with McCain just moderated him
This theory or some variation of this has been the prevailing thought from those on the right. This is often done merely tongue in cheek. To me, this is the least plausible scenario. It's no secret that Sen Graham and McCain were very close. It would also be easy to draw a direct contrast to his behavior before and after McCain's passing. The reason I don't take much stock in this is because this implies that Lindsey was being blackmailed into being a moderate by his 'friend.' What purpose would McCain do this? Lindsey was well on his way to being a RINO before McCain. This theory also ignores the fact that politicians, for the most part, don't do things outside of political expediency. This holds for most politicians, but not all.
I appreciate Sen Graham's leadership in calling out the hypocrisy of those opposing Kavanaugh. An act or not, Lindsey played a significant role in getting Brett to this point. The president is typically the one taking the lead of pushing things like this past the finish line while Congress is usually in the background either criticizing his efforts or saying nothing. Lindsey's courage helped others in the establishment to see that yes you can fight and no it won't kill you. Senate Republicans fought hard for this win. This was one of the few times the base and mainstream of the Republican party were united and fighting for a common goal.
Is this the new Lindsey Graham? I don't know the answer to that, but by all accounts, maybe. Now if we could change his opinions on government spying on American citizens without warrants, that would help me to completely support him beyond just enjoying his banter.