Thursday, April 6, 2017

Playing at the Town Hall

One thing you can say about our own Lindsey Graham is that he is having a good ole time.  I watched all I could tolerate of his performance at his town hall on April 1, about a half hour.  Of the two of us, he was the only one really enjoying himself.

He knew he was being televised, and he had a full house, in a way a captive audience at his mercy.  Which I must say was a pretty clever turnaround after all the legislators who have been caught as though running red-handed from a crime scene.  Which they pretty much were, given the horrendous acts they had committed on their constituents over the past years.

Anyway, the thing about Lindsey is that he does a smooth transition, back and forth, from a level headed, rational person to a rabid right wingnut.  Likewise, his strut across the stage and his ready laugh go from charming to a bit maniacal.

What he did on Saturday was maintain control even in the face of a furious, fed up audience.  They were actually constituents, but he sure made it feel like they were an audience.

He started off with Russia.  Russia was easy.  I could tell he knew he nailed it with the audience, because we all know that Russia is the bad guy.  Trump was another easy one, because by now we all have shorthand for what we think of him, and we knew he agreed.  And that even though he hoped the Senate could do a sound investigation, the most important thing was not to get in the way of the FBI.

Once he got us all warmed up he tossed the bucket of cold water at us.  Gorsuch.  He’s been playing that tune since the nomination.  Lindsey Graham LOVES Neil Gorsuch.  How could he not?  Gorsuch is as slick as they come – as I learned to say in the South, he cleans up real good.  But underneath that well-dressed white haired dignified suit of armor is an angry, mean control freak.  Gorsuch is going to act out every damn thing Graham can only dream of.  He will consistently rule for corporations, which I don’t even think is the most important issue for Graham.  More important, he will take down women, dashing any hope for reproductive rights, worker rights, and basically, self-determination here in the 21st century.

Because Lindsey truly has a thing about women.  He could be reasonable about Obama, but when it comes to Hillary, his hatred is visceral.  And lately, you can see it in his eyes when he talks about Susan Rice.  Women in power.  Competent women.

So when those types of issues come up, that’s when we see crazy Lindsey.  That’s when facts fly out the window.  I believe this is why his defense of Gorsuch on Saturday was so shrill.  As though he had no idea that the nominee was even more right-wing than Scalia, he told the group that if they couldn’t see how qualified Gorsuch is then “you are blinded by your own partisanship.”  And that our problem with Gorsuch was entirely to do with Trump (and not Merrick Garland):  “You want to set the election aside because you can’t accept the results – that’s your problem,” adding, inevitably, that Trump is being investigated by the FBI, big deal, “so was Hillary Clinton.”  And of course, bringing up the made-up “Biden rule,” as though he has so much respect for Biden’s philosophy that he would follow him anywhere.

After that things went downhill.

There was the usual “Obamacare is failing,” followed by the very strange accusation that the ACA “was not designed to get us health care but to get single payer through the back door.”  A truly through-the-looking-glass moment as I recalled progressives’ anger at Obama, who had not just omitted the possibility of single-payer altogether, but also did away with a “public option” at the polite request of the insurance industry.

When that idiocy brought about some loud boos, he laughed and said, “Good fun!  This is better than going to the Flower Show.”  And proceeded to tell folks that if they like single payer, well, Canada has it.  And if we want his insurance we can join the military, apparently believing that his stint in the military is what makes him deserving of government health care, and not just being an American.  Adding that the VA system is a failure not because it does not have the funding to streamline and have more doctors, but because it is a monopoly.  Ending with a fantastical suggestion for improving health care with a combination of managed care for people of high risk (anybody remember the abomination known as managed care?), tax credits, and allowing sales across state lines.  Done and done.  Everybody insured.

About Betsy DeVos:  “She has spent most of her life working on alternatives to failing schools.”  The alternative being taking money out of public schools to profit private schools.

Around about that time, Graham had a brief attack of sanity.  Regarding social security and medicare, he offered that those with high incomes, like himself, should pay more, take less.  But then came the trade-off:  We should all be willing to raise the retirement and Medicare ages.

Now this has been a bee in Lindsey's bonnet for a very long time.  Way back in 2011, I made an ad for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee pleading with Lindsey not to change the social security retirement age.  It was actually featured on Keith Olbermann's Countdown; it was my fifteen minutes of fame and a truly proud moment.

Point being, that Lindsey is so out of touch with his constituents that he has no clue how many of us finally retire with aches and pains and actual disabilities at age 62, or force ourselves to work to age 66.  He has dismissed us whiners by saying we can just apply for disability, as though his gang of criminals has made it real easy for people who are hurting to cash in.  He has no idea how, thanks to folks on his side of the aisle, Medicare has been chipped and hacked at until it requires costly private supplements, another boon for the insurance industry.  I don't know how people survived before the pharmaceutical boondoggle known as Medicare Part D, but the way it stands now, with the drug plan, we are all in a position where cutting meds in half or living without them -- or not -- is a real option.

And then there is Planned Parenthood, where Lindsey has his final split from reality.  Again, a woman thing.  He doesn't much care about facts at this point, saying that the debate about funding "is about providing abortion services."

Lindsey is not an idiot.  He knows the government does not pay for abortion services -- although they damn well should -- yet he contends that this is the crux of the issue.  And this sometimes rational legislator is willing to not just vote for, but support cutting a truly essential source of women's reproductive health care because they also do abortions.  Like his blind spot with Hillary, the thought of women making their own choices about their bodies brings him to near Trump-level irrationality.

And I am just sick to death of having these unmarried old white guys obsessing over control of women's bodies.

But we are indeed left with crazy Uncle Lindsey.  He might toss you a quarter, but then you have to listen to him rant about Hillary and abortion if you want to keep it.  Unlike the other unmarried right wingnut who "represents" South Carolina in the Senate, at least Lindsey's head clears every once in awhile.  Is it good enough?

Graham has fought off challenges from the right.  He has lately blown away what the state Democratic Party seemed to think was its best chance, a challenger with the all the right stands on the issues, but one who was outmatched in the ability to take center stage.

Invincible?  I'm afraid it would take lots of money and a candidate brimming with personality and chutzpah, who could talk to the folks as though they were having barbecue and beer, and damned, knew what they were going through with that dad-gum gub'mint and was shore gonna fix it.  Somebody who could make even a thick-headed southerner admit that they didn't want their nutty next-door neighbor carrying a gun, or their teenage daughter having to have a baby when that nasty boy she was with got her knocked up.

That would surely do it.  And there's somebody out there just dying to step up. 

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