Monday, April 16, 2007

A Colonel and a Senator

Something I wrote on September 27, 2006, but never published.

Lindsey Graham, the junior Republican senator from South Carolina, has taken a beating in recent months from conservatives—first for his blocking the nomination of Defense Department counsel William Haynes, an architect of the administration’s detainee policy, and now for his (just-reconciled) views on how to try the al Qaeda 14, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

But it’s hard not to like a guy who, this past summer, was in Kabul, Afghanistan, teaching the principles of U.S. military law at the Afghan Defense Ministry. The only senator now serving in the National Guard or reserve, and the first in decades to do military duty in a combat zone, Colonel Lindsey Graham, ipso facto, deserves the same respect the audience at Frank Gaffney’s “Keeper of the Flame” dinner last week gave other officers.

Moreover, as Jonathan Martin points out in today’s New Republic, “[A]ccording to the American Conservative Union ratings—the widely used metric for ideological purity—Graham voted the conservative line 94 percent of the time over the last two years. And Graham’s career score, 91 percent, is higher than such party stalwarts as Majority Leader Bill Frist, Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, and even liberal boogeyman Rick Santorum.”