Lindsey Graham may have single-handedly saved Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation

When Sen. Lindsey Graham's time came to ask questions of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday, ...

Posted: Sep 29, 2018 2:39 AM
Updated: Sep 29, 2018 2:39 AM

When Sen. Lindsey Graham's time came to ask questions of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday, Republicans were on the verge of outright panic.

Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers, had delivered a stirring account of that night in 1982. She had come across as credible and sympathetic -- a woman who had clearly been traumatized and who had zero doubt that Kavanaugh was responsible for it.

Brett Kavanaugh

Government and public administration

Lindsey Graham

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

US political parties

US Republican Party

Donald Trump

Government bodies and offices

US federal government

White House

Rachel Mitchell, the independent prosecutor brought in by Senate Republicans to question Ford and Kavanaugh, had failed to poke any significant holes in the accuser's story and seemed to have flummoxed the judge with queries about how many beers he believed to be too many beers to drink.

Enter Graham. Unlike his Republican colleagues before him, Graham, a former member of the Air Force's Judge Advocate General corps, didn't cede his five minutes of questioning to Mitchell. He seized it -- and with an impassioned attack that displayed his clear anger, frustration and impatience with both the process and the Democrats sharing the dais with him, he gave Republicans from the White House on down a shock to the system -- a wake-up call that fundamentally altered the remainder of the Kavanaugh hearing.

"What you want to do is destroy this guy's life, hold this seat open, and hope you win in 2020," Graham angrily accused his Democratic colleagues. "To my Republican colleagues, if you vote 'no', you're legitimizing the most despicable thing that I have seen in my time in politics."

Suddenly Republicans, both in the room and around Washington, had something to rally around. Graham's outrage was praised by the White House (."@LindseyGrahamSC has more decency and courage than every Democrat member of the committee combined. God bless him," tweeted press secretary Sarah Sanders) and by his fellow senators (Texas Sen. John Cornyn could be seen turning to Graham and telling him good job).

After Graham spoke, not a single Republican senator ceded his time to Mitchell again. She effectively disappeared from the hearing -- even while she continued to sit just below the GOP senators on the dais. Conservatives across social media cheered. Graham was a guest Thursday night with the high priest of the Trump movement: Sean Hannity.

(You can and should watch the entirety of Graham's five-minute speech here.)

Graham's performance had several audiences.

The first was President Donald Trump, who was watching the hearing and loves the stridency and confrontation that Graham had on display.

The second was his undecided Republican colleagues. Graham's cajoling played as an attempt to stiffen their spines while also trying to shame them into being for Kavanaugh.

The third audience was Republican voters in Graham's home state of South Carolina. In each of his last two re-election races, Graham faced primary challengers who cast him as insufficiently conservative. He won. But with another re-election race coming up in 2020 and Trump's conservative base flexing its muscles in GOP primaries around the country in 2018, Graham might have faced a major challenge in two years' time. That seems less likely now -- although who knows what the next two years will hold.

One group that clearly was not part of Graham's intended audience were Democratic senators and that party's base voters. Graham's condemnation of his colleagues won't play well in a chamber that, at least for a very long time, staked its reputation on its collegiality. And within minutes of his speech in the Judiciary Committee, Graham was being condemned by Democrats on Twitter and in other forms of social media as a transparent Trump sycophant.

The reaction to Graham speaks to the bitter divisions within the country. For Republicans, his words were the highlight of the hearing. For Democrats, the low light.

What is beyond debate is that prior to Graham's speech, Kavanaugh's chances were fading. After it, they look to be at least 50-50, particularly with Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, announcing that he is voting for Kavanaugh's nomination in the Judiciary Committee later Friday afternoon.

All of which means that if Kavanaugh winds up on the Supreme Court, he's got Lindsey Graham to thank for it -- maybe more than anyone else.

Huntsville
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 66°
Florence
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 67°
Fayetteville
Scattered Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 68°
Scottsboro
Scattered Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 64°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22400372
Mobile14282314
Tuscaloosa9983132
Montgomery9691196
Madison899992
Shelby703560
Lee643966
Baldwin637567
Marshall426748
Calhoun410259
Etowah402049
Morgan394532
Houston363132
DeKalb316727
Elmore309552
St. Clair279742
Limestone269227
Walker268092
Talladega255034
Cullman225823
Lauderdale206340
Autauga199928
Franklin199131
Jackson199114
Colbert190627
Russell19023
Dallas185227
Blount183823
Chilton180531
Escambia170928
Covington164729
Coffee16409
Dale162551
Pike130212
Chambers127343
Tallapoosa127286
Clarke126716
Marion104229
Butler99840
Barbour9819
Marengo96721
Winston89913
Geneva8337
Pickens80317
Randolph79514
Lawrence79230
Bibb78913
Hale74529
Cherokee71514
Clay70712
Lowndes69927
Bullock63517
Henry6316
Monroe6279
Washington62112
Crenshaw59030
Perry5796
Wilcox55712
Conecuh55413
Fayette54712
Macon52919
Cleburne5247
Sumter46421
Lamar4575
Choctaw38612
Greene33316
Coosa1963
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 232061

Reported Deaths: 2922
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby34370552
Davidson29801325
Knox1183387
Hamilton11097102
Rutherford11031106
Williamson661848
Sumner5636107
Wilson440253
Putnam411053
Montgomery385751
Out of TN379435
Unassigned37653
Madison361378
Bradley340821
Sullivan318844
Sevier314920
Blount310231
Washington308043
Maury307435
Robertson248539
Hamblen232743
Tipton219222
Gibson205437
Dyer202326
Hardeman178732
Coffee176020
Trousdale17407
Obion163617
Bedford159020
Dickson156218
Wayne15607
Greene155650
Anderson155513
Loudon154010
Fayette152022
McMinn150832
Cumberland148924
Lawrence146217
Jefferson145818
Weakley143425
Carter141532
Henderson135425
Monroe134823
Warren13399
Hardin131319
Lauderdale130818
Macon125724
Franklin121115
Haywood119025
Roane11857
Overton111211
Johnson11046
Hawkins109923
Carroll109324
McNairy108825
White107614
Marshall10528
Rhea104816
Cheatham96911
Lake9683
Smith93313
Bledsoe9244
Cocke92212
Giles89234
Campbell8647
Fentress8497
Lincoln8012
Crockett76620
Henry74110
Hickman73913
Chester71214
Marion6999
DeKalb67216
Decatur62511
Grainger5314
Grundy5168
Claiborne4956
Union4932
Polk46913
Jackson4165
Humphreys4094
Morgan4086
Houston38914
Benton3879
Cannon3862
Unicoi3641
Clay36312
Lewis3502
Sequatchie3294
Scott3244
Stewart3087
Meigs2944
Moore2452
Pickett2445
Perry2041
Van Buren1911
Hancock1123

Community Events