Graham: Americans ‘See Weakness’ in Obama’s ‘Political Immaturity’

by Robert Costa

Washington — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), one of the Senate’s high-profile mavericks, tells National Review Online that President Obama’s “whining” over the tax deal reveals his “political immaturity.”

“By using rhetoric that calls us ‘hostage-takers,’ he believes, somehow, that the Left will give him some credit for hating us, or putting us in a bad light. But it just lowers him,” Graham says. “He is whining, and no one likes a whining president. . . . There is a lot of disappointment on our side. Quite frankly, this is going to be hard to forget.”

The American people, Graham says, “see weakness” in how the president has handled the agreement. “They see a guy who is unsure of himself, who is political to a fault. He’s always got his finger up in the air, and that’s not comforting.”

“I think he’s adrift,” Graham says. “His instincts, I think, are to be more centrist, since that’s the political future for him. But he doesn’t feel comfortable taking on his own party. And he sure doesn’t know how to cut a deal and sell it. This goes back to experience. He’s never done this stuff before. I hope the message is, before you elect someone president of the United States, the more experience they have in the real world, the better. He’s never sat down with a group of Republicans and Democrats —hard-headed right and hard-headed left — and hammered out a deal.”

Graham tells us that he comes to these conclusions reluctantly. “I don’t throw bombs for the hell of throwing bombs,” he says. “I don’t hate the president; I don’t question his birth or his patriotism. I try to work across party lines on big things that have to be done in a bipartisan way.” The president, he adds, “doesn’t understand the consequences that come from playing cheap politics and biting rhetoric when you’re the president of the United States.”

“I like the president personally, but he’s whining to the Left about ‘You’re putting too much pressure on me,’ and he’s whining to us about making his life difficult,” Graham continues. “What he ought to do is say ‘I support this deal, it’s the best thing for the country, it’s not what I would like in a perfect world, but I stand by it and I’m going to sell it the best I can and put America ahead of anything else.’ That means you don’t belittle your opponent or attack your base for having differences with you — triangulate without making everyone mad.”

Turning to the Senate, Graham calls Majority Leader Harry Reid’s handling of the lame-duck session “small-minded” and “tone deaf,” emblematic of the “last gasp of liberalism.” Reid, he sighs, by trying to shuffle numerous bills through at the last minute, is holding a “bazaar for special-interest groups.”

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