Lindsey Graham Just Called BS on the GOP Primary

The South Carolina senator explained to Gov. Bobby Jindal why much of what passes for political rhetoric is nonsense.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham
This is what calling BS looks like: Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a debate among the lowest-polling candidates, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on Sept. 16, 2015.

Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who, like all the governors in the GOP primary, is running as an “outsider,” went after South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham for not enacting the entire Republican ideological agenda despite controlling both chambers of Congress. Then something bizarre happened: Graham explained why that’s not possible! Even if you eliminated the filibuster, Graham says, there is still this thing called a “veto.”

JINDAL: I want to ask Lindsey a question. Will the Senate Republicans—they still have time—are they willing to use the nuclear option, meaning get rid of filibusters, to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power? Now is the time for the Senate Republicans to stand up and fight. We are tired of the establishment saying there’s nothing we can do. … We won the Senate and the House. What was the point of winning those chambers? You’re going back tonight and still have time before the Thursday deadline. Will you all use the deadline to stop Iran from having nuclear power?

GRAHAM: You were in the Congress and if you want to repeal Obamacare, get a new president. If you want to defund Planned Parenthood, elect a pro-life president because that’s the only way. … Sixty-seven votes are required to override the veto. … I don’t want to take off the table the ability to slow down Obama in his last 13 or 14 months because I want 60 votes to stop what I think he’s going to do between now and January 2017. …

So, folks, the world really is the way it is. President Obama is president. The goal is to get him out of there and pick somebody who would actually do something to repeal Obamacare, who would get you a better agreement. Bobby, he would veto the bill. We don’t have 67 votes, and you have given away a defense against Obama for the rest of his presidency. No, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to tell you things I can’t do. I’m not going to tell you by shutting the government down we’re going to defund Obamacare as long as he’s president. That hurts us. I’m trying to lead this party to winning.

This went on a few more rounds as Jindal continued with his rigmarole about how congressional Republicans need a “backbone.” None of it ever addressed what sort of “backbone” gives the Senate 67 votes to enact all of the Republican Party’s central goals.

Jindal is not an … important presidential candidate. But this sort of rhetoric is littered throughout the field, and there’s no evidence that a clear explanation of the situation, like Graham offered, will help him.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the GOP primary.