Lindsey Graham Defends Himself: "Petraeus Petraeus troops commander Petraeus!"


Lindsey Graham, last seen saying "Free speech is a great idea, but we're in a war," decides to get out the steam-powered shovel and keep digging, in an are-you-kidding-me? interview with National Review's Robert Costa. So much insane, constitutionally inept militarism, so little time:

NRO: Some of my National Review colleagues are being pretty rough on you today. What is your response to some of the outrage on the right about your comments regarding free speech?

GRAHAM: General Petraeus sent a statement out to all news organizations yesterday, urging our government to ban Koran burning. Free speech probably allows that, but I don't like that. I don't like burning the flag under the idea of free speech. That bothers me; I have been one of the chief sponsors of legislation against burning the flag. I don't like the idea that these people picket funerals of slain servicemen. If I had my way, that wouldn't be free speech. So there are a lot of things under the guise of free speech that I think are harmful and hateful.

When General Petraeus wants us to say something because our troops are at risk, I'm glad to help. I don't believe that killing someone is an appropriate reaction to burning the Koran, the Bible, or anything else, like I said Sunday; but those who believe that free speech allows you to burn the flag, I disagree. Those who want free speech to allow you to go to a funeral and picket a family, and giving more misery to their lives than they have already suffered, I disagree. And if I could do something about behavior that puts our troops at risk, I would. But in this case, you probably can't. It's not about the Koran; it's about putting our troops at risk. And I think all of us owe the troops the support we're capable of giving. […]

NRO: But don't you fear that if we let Islamic extremists determine the speech debate in the United States, then we've lost something?

GRAHAM: No. Here's what I fear: I fear that politicians don't have any problem pushing against laws in the Middle East that are outrageous. It's perfectly acceptable for me to push back against prosecutions by Islamic countries against people of my faith. And it is perfectly appropriate for me to condemn Koran burning when the general who is in charge of our troops believes that such action would help. I'm not letting Islamists determine what free speech in America is, but I am, as a political leader, trying to respond to the needs of our commander. You've got to remember, General Petraeus decided that this was important enough to get on the record as being inappropriate. And I want to be on the record with General Petraeus.

NRO: Instead of being an advocate for Petraeus, should you not first and foremost be an advocate for the First Amendment?

GRAHAM: You know what? Let me tell you, the First Amendment means nothing without people like General Petraeus.

I will be happy when this strain of Constitution-averse military bootlicking is in the national rearview mirror. What a disgrace.