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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Graham Cares About Business, Not Planet

Every once in a while you’ll get a statement of such unvarnished honesty from a politician that it takes your breath away. Check out this excerpt from a Politico interview with Sen. Lindsey Graham about his recent backtracking on climate change, which has unraveled many months of negotiations and placed any and all Senate action in question:

The two-term senator explained that the idea of increasing offshore drilling “resonated with people” back home. Once the BP spill took that possibility off the table, Graham figured he’d be foolish to jump on board with climate change legislation without getting his biggest ask.
“The problem is, the people I did business with, climate change is a religion to them,” Graham said. “This has been a business deal for me. They heaped praise on me when I was advancing their agenda. And now I’m re-evaluating and reassessing what I can and will do, and all of a sudden, I’ve become the bad guy. Well, I’m the same guy.”
“I think people somehow misread that I somehow woke up one morning with a message from God to go save the planet,” he said. “That never motivated me. What motivated me was an opening, a vacuum. You had EPA regulations coming. I’m a big nuclear power advocate. I saw the ability to put together a deal that would be unique and different.”

Now it’s not every day that a U.S. Senator boasts about his own cynicism, proudly identifies himself as an agent for a particular industry, and then mocks people with motives that aren’t so crass. But you have to appreciate that to a guy like Graham, letting anyone back home in South Carolina Republican circles think that he might just have a sincere interest in dealing with global climate change would be potentially fatal. Cutting a deal for the nuclear industry back home is acceptable; caring about the planet is not.

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