Is Lindsey Graham Joking?

Sen. Lindsey Graham, S.C. - (R)

Sen. Lindsey Graham, S.C. – (R)

by Gene Howington

South Carolina Senator and possible Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham has, at best, an odd sense of humor.  Personally, I find him about as funny as red tide but apparently his audience at an all-male Irish Catholic Hibernian Society of Charleston meeting thought he was a hoot when he said, “I’m trying to help you with your tax status. I’m sorry the government’s so fucked up. If I get to be president, white men in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency.” Whether it appeals to your particular sense of humor or not, comedy has rules. One of those rules is that it must be grounded in truth.  Why? Because a joke usually relies on exaggeration and/or contrast to provide the funny. So what is the underlying truth here?

That he’s catering to white male exclusionists? Or perhaps just Irish Catholic exclusionists?

That the government is fucked up? Which in itself is funny considering he is as a Senator – that most obstructionist part of the bicameral Legislature unless you’re a corporation or extremely wealthy – a part of government.

That white men who can afford to go to private club sponsored political events deserve special treatment under the tax code? The tax code is certainly broken, but only a fool, a teabagger, or a self-important venal rich white guy would argue that less taxes for wealthy white men is the pressing problem that needs to be fixed in order to address the inequities of the current system.

I don’t find any of that particularly funny considering in a democracy an elected official such as Graham is supposed to look out for the best interest of all of his constituents and not just the white men.  And I say that as a white man. The core truth under this joke is essentially anti-democratic (note the small “d”) and demonstrative of the kind of special interest mindset that keeps Washington endlessly bound in a cycle of corruption and ineptitude whilst bringing this country not just to its knees but to an ever increasingly divided, disparate and dangerous political and social environment. A cycle which is perpetuated by representatives who spend all their time raising money and courting narrow special interest instead of working for the betterment of all their constituents.

Perhaps the real joke here is Graham considering a run at the Presidency when the demographics of the electorate are increasingly not all white men seeking tax avoidance from their seats at religiously segregated all-male clubs of privilege.

What do you think?

Source: CNN

About Gene Howington

I write and do other stuff.
This entry was posted in Campaign Finance, Corruption, Democracy, Equal Rights, RNC, United States. Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Is Lindsey Graham Joking?

  1. bettykath says:

    I don’t think he said that as a joke. I think he meant every word of it. The very sad joke is Lindsay Graham himself.

  2. swarthmoremom says:

    Lindsay Graham is a Southern Baptist.

  3. Mike Spindell says:

    I think Graham was jocularly letting the audience know exactly where he stands and who he stands with. Consider the arrogance of this really mediocre man, so consistently wrong on so many issues, thinking himself Presidential material?

  4. Smom,

    True enough, but the audience was segregated by sex and religion.

  5. Mike,


    ‘Nuff said.

  6. Elaine M. says:


    I like Charles Pierce’s name for Lindsey Graham: Senator Huckleberry J. Butchmeup.

  7. At least you know a white bread cracker when you see him talk.

  8. Nice article Gene. I consider Graham to be an actual presidential possibility, which is terrifying.
    But there is an overall swing in some areas that tends toward many of his views, which again is terrifying. Even worse is that the people that fall into this category tend to believe simply and strongly and will likely get out to vote.
    A friend of mine in high school (a long time ago) told me that the world always follows a philosophy of ” the Dumbest to the Mostest”. He explained to me that it was simple, most people liked to believe the easiest and simplest things because thinking and understanding things in scale and context was too much work. Obvious I know but a scary fact to remember when i see the sort of BS that Graham spouts. I mean as impossible as it is too believe there are still many conservatives that believe that Sarah Palin is an OK candidate.

    Unfortunately I fear that my old, spacey friend was probably wise.

  9. James Knauer says:

    At root, Lindsay Graham appears to be an attention-getter, unwilling to reside on the merits of his achievements — JAG, Senator, and so forth — but so obviously insecure that he has to pull the fake Boss Hog routine, perpetually on the precipice of “the vapahs”, existing solely on the plantation of his mind, all so he can appear “cute.” But let us see his schtick for what it is (thank you, Elaine).

    I have watched him become more brazen and extreme as the GOP shrinks in numbers while growing in might, mainly because Democrats’ instinct when presented with such mean-spirited unhinged foolishness is to back away slowly. This is the precise purpose of the bully pulpit, another area the weak Obama has failed the country. This stuff cannot just be ignored in hopes it just goes away. It has to be confronted, continuously, and purposefully. In a two-party system, it’s not a “waste of time.” It’s essential for governance.

    Graham’s remarks to the Good Ol’ Boys club he knows are meaningless. Not only will he never see the Big Chair, he knows he and his ilk are doomed to history. It explains the I Got Mine, take everything not nailed down on the way out attitude that has posed for “conservative governance” since Bush v Gore. They will take as many of the rest of us they can down with them, if we let them. They get away with it because money is the only voice left, and avarice is King. “Freedom” has become synonymous with “not doing those vital things I don’t want to do,” and being paid handsomely for it.

    The pendulum will swing back. It always does.

  10. po says:

    I do not think Lindsey will run for president, I do think he is a mediocre man who has found a niche, where he can put enough sticks in the spokes of the wheel of government to reinforce his sense of indispensability and self-importance, while getting all the rewards a man like him relishes, some measure of of power without the burden of responsibility.
    Elaine, Jon Stewart has made so I can’t hear Graham without hearing Stewart. It rings true in so many ways!

  11. swarthmoremom says:

    Don’t think he will run either. Guess he would be a centrist in current line up.

  12. po says:

    ” Guess he would be a centrist in current line up.”

  13. swarthmoremom says:

    He will have more power come January. Don’t know what committee he is line for but his bff McCain will be Chair of the Armed Services Committee.

  14. blouise says:

    I’m 99% sure that JFK was a member of this group’s Massachusetts branch.

    They used to wear funny hats and give each other lots of medals for protecting Catholic Churches from pitchfork carrying Protestants.

  15. RTC says:

    Graham saves his best jokes for the Senate rostrum. He’ll never run for President; too much baggage, too many skeletons…. He’s secure in his Senate job and comfortable doing what he’s doing as a GOP POS.

  16. buckaroo says:

    Lets hear from “fallen away” Catholics regarding such activities

  17. pete says:

    I’ve got something even funnier. There is a chance he’s a distant relative.

  18. bettykath says:

    blouise, And there was a time when protecting Catholics and the churches from pitchfork carrying Protestants was a necessary activity.

  19. Anonymously Yours says:


    If they’d just stay out of Germany they’d done fine.

  20. blouise says:


    Yes, after the Reformation everything went to hell for the Catholics.

    I blame Gutenberg and those ridiculous modifications he made to the wine press. Next thing you know priests-scribes were freed from the tediousness of using a quill thus able to print Indulgences by the score which Leo X was selling as fast as he could to get enough money to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica thus inspiring Luther’s 95 Theses which were also printed up by the score and read by everyone giving birth to the Reformation and good Catholics everywhere found the worm had turned.

    Hibernians were needed. (Though to be fair, they really got their start here trying to defend Irish immigrants from pitchfork carrying Americans around NYC’s Five Points neighborhood.)

    Damn Gutenberg anyway.

  21. Mike Spindell says:

    “I blame Gutenberg and those ridiculous modifications he made to the wine press.”


    Fess up, you heard that from that PBS Show, just as I did. 🙂 BTW, did you watch the show about Light. I was nonplussed that he went from candles lighting the home, to electric light, without a mention of gaslight.

  22. blouise17 says:


    Lol … it was a combination of the PBS show we are both presently enjoying and the old PBS show “Connections”.

    I wondered about leaving out gas lighting too. My house was built in 1896 and has both electric and gas lighting. Wasn’t that bit about the laser facility near San Francisco fascinating?

    Two BTWs … I met Charles Barkley yesterday afternoon down on W 6th. He was in town for The Game which I also attended. I’m a basketball fan.

    And … here’s a great book for you I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hays. Enjoyable read.

    • Mike Spindell says:


      You met Charles Barkley? When he played he was among my favorite players because he had a variety of skills beyond scoring. I’m a basketball fan as well, perhaps because it was the sport I played best when I was young. I’ve though about whether to congratulate you on LeBron’s return. In my opinion he is the greatest basketball player I’ve ever seen and my basketball experience goes back to the Knicks in 1955. When he went to Miami I followed the team and rooted for them, since my Knicks are hopeless. I was pleased that he returned to Cleveland and the Cavs look to be an exciting team. In Miami though, they see LeBron as a “traitor” which I think is a hoot considering they “stole” him from the Cavs in the first place. I find it ironic that in this capitalist country, athletes are held to a higher standard of loyalty than in other businesses. An athlete owes nothing to anyone, but to himself and those close to him. In Cleveland, a great sports town, you watched the Browns moved to Baltimore by the owner, with barely a complaint in the national press, yet when an athlete moves on for a more lucrative situation, there is approbation. I suspect that there is some sort of class distinction at play.

      Gene, et. Al,

      I’d been trying to think of “Connections” which I loved, but my memory fails at times. Thanks for jogging it. Connections was a far better show than this one because the causal chain was more accurate. Ignoring gas lighting for instance, wasn’t the first causal connection this show has missed. Also I think there is a strain of sort of a capitalist oeuvre running through the show’s narrative. For instance uber capitalist Thomas Edison was lionized but the genius and contributions of Nicholas Tesla weren’t mentioned.

  23. I absolutely loved Connections as a kid but I haven’t seen it in at least a decade. One of the best history of science shows ever.

    I know.

    You’re all terribly shocked by this. :mrgreen:

    • James Knauer says:

      PBS’s Connections was the Best Show Ever. Ok maybe not EVER, but still. For critical thinking alone, it should be mandatory! Timeless stuff. Gene, I bet we could do our own episodes, nes pa?

  24. blouise17 says:


    AS A KID!?


  25. Elaine M. says:

    Lindsey Graham’s deranged joke: What he revealed about white male anxiety
    Saying “white men in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency” ensures this: He’ll never be president

    Graham is indeed harking back to an earlier time, but not that early. It’s when white men sat in their white male clubs and ran the world, before uppity women and Negroes began complaining and asking for equality. It’s like Republican congressman Steve Southerland inviting men to a male-only whiskey and cigars fundraiser whose invitation instructed “tell the misses not to wait up.” Times were simpler and better then, and the entire Republican project is designed to reassure anxious white men that things can be that way again (although with demographic trends being what they are, I don’t see how).

    In another clip, Graham asks, “We got any Presbyterians here? We got any Baptists? They’re the ones that drink and don’t admit it.” The crowd laughs. A little harmless interdenominational Protestant needling never hurt anyone, although it’s not clear Graham realizes he’s talking to an all Catholic group, or trying to play on Catholic prejudices against Protestants. But that’s the least of his comments.

    Graham has been trying to float the idea of a presidential bid, which is preposterous. The Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson thinks an already tall order just got taller. She offers some free advice: “If you are a Southern white male senator, it’s probably not the best idea to tell a joke that touches on race, gender and privilege when your party is struggling so much with people who aren’t white males — particularly in the South.”

  26. Better that than a dumb ass, Blouise. :mrgreen:

    But seriously, Connections was in its first stateside run on PBS when I was 12? 13?

    I’ve been hoping the BBC would dust off the property and remake it for years, but I’m not sure they can. It was based on Burke’s book of the same title and the copyright is probably tied to him somehow.

  27. blouise17 says:


    I have the dvds around here somewhere but if you go to the BBC Worldwide channel on YouTube, all ten of the original episodes are there. I think the rights are owned by BBC Worldwide.

  28. bron98 says:

    a big fuk no to Lindsey as president or even a candidate. Holy shit, what a fuked up mess that would be.

  29. pete says:

    learn something new every day. I’ve never heard that about the modified wine press, I just knew there was an issue with metallurgy and making the letter dies for the movable type.

  30. blouise says:


    Most historians refer to the modification of a “screw press” and leave out the bit about what kind of screw press it was. But Gutenberg was also a goldsmith and his work with a hand mould made the movable type less cumbersome creating what some call an assembly line like process based on its speed.

  31. swarthmoremom says: “In the Republican class of 2014, gone is the belligerence and rhetorical recklessness that doomed such Senate tea-party challengers as Sharron Angle in 2010 and Todd Akin in 2012. Yet a look at the candidates’ agendas this year finds an almost indivisible consensus behind deeply conservative positions among the 14 nonincumbent Senate Republican contenders with a plausible chance of winning. (The 14 include the challengers for the 11 most threatened Democratic seats and the GOP nominees for Republican open seats in Georgia, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.)

    In this uniformly right-leaning group, Ernst may be the most conservative of all. Many Republicans have shifted into opposition toward the Common Core education standards; Ernst would shut down the entire Education Department. While virtually all Republicans oppose raising the federal minimum wage as President Obama has urged, Ernst trumps them by proposing to repeal it completely. (“I don’t believe the federal government should be involved in setting the minimum wage,” she said flatly this spring.) And while all 14 GOP contenders promise to fight the proposed Environmental Protection Agency climate regulations limiting power-plant carbon emissions, Ernst would eliminate the EPA itself—a position rarely heard.

    Ernst may hold the pole position on conservative aspiration, but the other Republicans racing toward the Senate are not far behind. With only slight nuance, all have pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act (except West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito, who says the issue is largely settled).” When the new group comes in. Graham will be in the left wing of the republican caucus. Cruz will have more power.

  32. swarthmoremom says:

    The Hibernians also fought the Klan in the South.

  33. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Edison was a master showman and deft businessman, but as a scientist, he’s not even in the same dimension let alone same room as Tesla.

  34. blouise17 says:


    Mr. Barkley seemed very happy to be here meeting fans who admire him for his skills. It was a chance encounter as I was with a retired NBA coach who knows Mr. Barkley well. I think he has some serious knee problems.

    LeBron was always going to return. He never sold his house in Bath and his wife considers the Akron area home. We simply had to wait till the man got his ring. I’ve been watching him play since he was in high school and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen him as nervous as he was the other night. It’s understandable. The team will gel with time.

    Downtown Cleveland was a madhouse before the game. A happy madhouse.

  35. blouise17 says:


    Love is a great player and he sure as hell is getting the attention of the female fans. 😉

  36. po says:

    I am a basketball fan as well, and played it all my life. i am a big fan of Charles Barkley, not only for the way he played, but also for the fact that a friend of mine and fellow teenager wrote to Charles Barkley and he responded with an autographed picture of himself dunking. That picture became my friend’s most prized possession, and by proximity, mine too. He is a simple guy, very funny and quite straightforward individual. He called out Lebron on the manner of his exodus to Miami, and is a fantastic presence on the commentating crew of TNT.
    By the way, NBA tv has a series called open court where ex nba players, including Charles discuss life as a pro. Very interesting!
    Scott Raab of Esquire mag, a Clevelander (?) has been writing about the city’s curse when it comes to sports, which seemed to have culminated when Lebron left. It’s been an incredible insight into the city’s psyche.

  37. blouise17 says:

    Mike, et al,

    Connections is always on my mind as I watch How We Got To Now.


    Cleveland has a psyche? 😉 When you have the time I’d like to read what your impressions are. It’s always helpful to know how others see us.

  38. po says:

    Blouise, I have no insight into Cleveland, at all. Not being a fan of football, and being generally ignorant of the history of American blue collar towns (the legacy of French education in colonial lands). Scott Raab’s musings, which gather both of those (football and American blue collar town identity) along with chip on the shoulder that follows the lack of sportive success that is made worthwhile when blamed on God’s active and personal hate, have been my guide into the spirit of Cleveland!
    Don’t tell me you did not know that Cleveland has a spirit?!

  39. blouise17 says:


    I just read his God (Still) Hates Cleveland article in Esquire and he’s nailed it.

    “Still, come what may—whoever’s will be done—this city and these fans will abide. …That bond, strong as blood, is precisely what drives all die-hard Cleveland fans insane. Fifty joyless years on the banks of Lake Erie, two generations of bitter pain, relentless and ongoing mockery, and still hoping—for what? A parade? I fucking hate parades. But I’ll be there anyway, or if not me, my ashes. Because, unlike God, I love Cleveland.”

  40. blouise17 says:


    I don’t think God hates us … He just has a sense of humor … how else can you explain the Republicans choosing us for their 2016 National Convention. That’s going to be a hoot!

  41. po says:

    ” I don’t think God hates us … He just has a sense of humor … how else can you explain the Republicans choosing us for their 2016 National Convention. That’s going to be a hoot!”
    Good point, I like to to say that we tend to see a meanspirited, vengeful God where we ought to see divine humor in action!
    Scott writes the best sentences ever. One of those that still brings a smile to my lips is this one, in the book he wrote about Cleveland, sports and the Lebron, the Whore of Akron:” Magic Johnson sits there perched on Magic Johnson’s ass, an igloo of flesh.”

  42. blouise says:


    Sports writers are a breed unto themselves, don’t you think? And good sports commentary on any medium can be both informative and entertaining.

    But my take on the whole Cleveland thing was illustrated beautifully on the day the Cavs played their opening game last week. Everywhere I went someone had something to say about James. The bank teller, the pharmacist, the postman, the librarian would end every James comment with the sentence, “It’s good for the city.” My 6 year old granddaughter recognises the Cleveland skyline when she sees it on a billboard, a t-shirt, a postcard, or in a commercial and she always excitedly points it out and yells, “Look, Look ,Grandma, there’s my city!” We’re sports fans, music fans, science and literary fans but first and foremost, we’re Cleveland fans. Raab nailed it.

  43. po says:

    Eloquently said! Now you are making me want to come for a visit 🙂

  44. blouise17 says:


    Great, but be prepared. All the streets are torn up and being redone to impress the RNC. I believe there is at least one movie being shot. It’s heading into the holidays so there are scads of events at Playhouse Square and Severance. The Cavs and the Brown’s are playing and I think both the Rock Hall and the Great Lakes Science Center have new displays debuting and the Art Museum and Natural Science Museum are opening their holiday exhibits. And the, of course there’s the Flats and food and liquor. You’re going to need a sense of humor just to get around.

    Here is something you might appreciate about the Cleveland area:

    “Across America, requests to build or expand mosques often evoke community opposition, even furor. In Parma, city leaders are following a deep-rooted course of tolerance and respect.
    Parma recently cast a wider welcome to its Muslim community. Its planning commission approved the expansion of the Islamic Center of Cleveland by allowing it to consolidate with an adjoining parcel of land.

    The unanimous vote on Oct. 27 heartened Muslim leaders, who realize that mosque projects are not treated dispassionately everywhere these days.

    “Everyone was receptive and helpful,” said Zahid Siddiqi, the general secretary of Ohio’s largest mosque. “Parma has been helpful to us, always.”

    Chuck Germana, president of Parma City Council, said the feelings are mutual.

    “They’re good neighbors,” Germana said.”

Comments are closed.