Though they seem at opposite poles, fanatics of all kinds are actually crowded together at one end. It is the fanatic and the moderate who are poles apart and never meet. The fanatics of various hues eye each other with suspicion and are ready to fly at each other's throat. But they are neighbors and almost of one family. They hate each other with the hatred of brothers. They are as far apart and close together as Saul and Paul. And it is easier for a fanatic Communist to be converted to fascism, chauvinism, or Catholicism than to be a sober liberal.In this edition of DEAD AIR, we see that right-wing fanatics have attacked a moderate, although they are ostensibly on the same side politically. But as Eric Hoffer instructed us, the fanatic hates the moderate far more than he hates the fanatic who opposes him.
--Eric Hoffer, The True Believer
I haven't written about all of this yet, because I didn't know exactly what to say.
Certainly, I knew the day would come. I have written on the subject--admittedly mincing my words, dropping vague hints and otherwise hedging my bets. I wasn't eager to be sued. Now, I see that I could have written anything I wanted, and Senator Graham would have ignored me, as he is currently ignoring the extended media-foofaraw over his alleged homosexuality. I am currently kicking myself for not going whole hog, while at the same time, I worry about the vendetta being carried out by the nasty tea partiers.
I should have known, after Graham faced them down during last October's town hall meeting, that their last resort would be outing. South Carolina Democrats and liberals have been rightly fearful that another Strom Thurmond waits in the wings (and believe me, there are a parcel of em) to take Graham's seat. Although we heartily disagree with him on plenty of issues, we know how much worse it could be, and how much worse it certainly has been. (We also like having a moderate Republican in the senate, knowing he comes from the Upstate.)
I should have realized, it would be the far right, not the far left, that outed him. For one thing, the left doesn't really care what he does in the sack, we care about his politics. The major grudge GLBT activists have against him is that he has voted strictly anti-gay since his swearing in. This is truly galling, and the reason GLBT activists like Michelangelo Signorile are after him.
And so, here we are, at the moment of truth. What will Lindsey Graham do?
My advice to him is to continue ignoring this homophobic hoopla as long as possible. Any day now, he will be asked point-blank by the press. It's time for him to haul out that legendary charm, and WORK IT.
And while he's doing that, he can stop voting against his own people. Quietly and without fanfare. Just do it. Start withdrawing support from homophobic legislation, homophobic Republicans (Mary Matalin insists they ALL aren't homophobic) and homophobic activism. Just say no. Do not speak against gay marriage and make yourself look foolish, as Larry Craig so memorably did. Just keep your mouth shut, while depriving anti-gay politicians of your reliably anti-gay vote.
Always remember who did this to you--it was the right, not the left.
You owe them nothing. Not a damn thing, sir.
A few years ago, during some big local GOP fundraiser, Senator Graham's car got towed. Not a big deal, but I happened to know the folks who towed him. They described to me how he came in person (not like most VIPs, who routinely send flunkies/assistants) to get his car out of hock, all while making jokes about whether he had inadvertently parked in a Democratic spot. He shook everyone's hand, he told them to keep up the good work, enforcing the law ("even when it hurts!") by towing the cars that weren't legally parked. It's important work, and people don't often understand that, he told them. He thanked them for their hard work, thanked them for towing him. It's a dirty job, etc. And he smiled his trademark high-beam Southern Gentleman smile.
By the time he left the tow-yard, those guys would have handed over their firstborn sons to Senator Graham. They felt honored they had towed his car.
I also remember Lindsey Graham in the local Christmas parade, one of the few politicians who seems to enjoy riding in a convertible with Santa, various cheerleaders and police chiefs. He grins, laughs and waves, obviously having the time of his life, and the crowd always applauds him vigorously, waving back with undisguised enthusiasm, affection and aplomb. I have attempted not to wave back at him, since he IS a Republican....but this is simply impossible to do. As I have written here before, Lindsey Graham is one of the most charming people in the world.
It's time to use the charm, Senator. The Southern Gentleman that you so graciously embody, is being put to the test. It's time to rise above your critics. It's also time to remember who you are, and who they are. To put it very nakedly and very bluntly: They are people who would kill you if they had the chance. They want to eliminate gay people, and by labeling you gay, they have placed you in their (figurative, but possibly literal) cross-hairs. Please be careful. As you have learned, these people don't play fair.
And as always, stay tuned, sports fans.