fresh voices from the front lines of change







Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson reported that Sen. Lindsey Graham faced a legion of angry right-wing Teabaggers for working with Sen. John Kerry on carbon cap legislation. And in the video of his SC town hall, despite being called a “traitor” among other things, Graham does not show one whit of concern.

This is further evidence that Graham has crossed the climate Rubicon, as I argued on Sunday.

Sen. Graham may be a conservative, but he is not a moron. He knew full well the right-wing lunacy that would be unleashed by his willingness to compromise to pass carbon cap legislation. And he came well-prepared for their attacks.

How many of you here would like to drill offshore? How many people here want more nuclear power plants? You’re not going to get it with 40 votes [from Senate Republicans].

Sen. Graham was just re-elected with 58% of the vote. He is not up for re-election until 2014. With Republicans so deep in the hole, he cannot see in the near future a Republican majority in the Senate.

He apparently has made up his mind that if he is going to be in the minority for the next five years, he’d rather be legislating than teabagging.

He has also made clear that he would like not to be in minority forever. Scrubbing the anti-environment stigma off of the Republican Party, and living in the reality-based world where climate change is actually happening, is a smart way to regain competitiveness across the country,

So if he can trade some offshore drilling and nuclear power for a comprehensive carbon cap, he’ll take it.

The Teabaggers can make all the toilet-based effigies they want. Sen. Graham has made clear he does not want to be dependent on their votes.

He may be taking less of a risk than others in conservative areas because he is not up for re-election for several years. But other Republicans still may want to take note.

Graham certainly believes the Teabagger fringe will not and should not determine the party’s future prospects. Assuming a final climate deal is forged with Sen. Kerry and the Democratic leadership, the reception Graham gets from all corners of South Carolina — and more importantly, other areas of the country — will be worth watching.

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