Lindsey Graham Goes Full Julius Caesar

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is flirting with the idea of running for president, participated in a forum in New Hampshire a few days ago in which he said that his first act as president would be to use the military to imprison Congress at the capitol until they voted the way he wanted them to vote:

Republican senator and presidential maybe-hopeful Lindsey Graham stopped by the “politics and pies” forum in Concord, New Hampshire, today, where he announced that if he is elected president in 2016, his first act will be to deploy the military in Washington to force Congress to reverse cuts to the defense and intelligence budgets.

Yes, you heard that right. Here are Graham’s exact words:

And here’s the first thing I would do if I were president of the United States. I wouldn’t let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to. We’re not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts. We are not leaving town until we restore the intel cuts.

Graham would use the military to force members of Congress to not just vote on the bill — but to pass it. Graham didn’t say “until I get an up-or-down vote on restoring defense cuts.” He said “until we restore these defense cuts.”

In other words, Graham is proposing that his first act as president would be to use the military to force the legislative branch to pass his agenda.

As Vox noted, “There is no universe in which this is remotely legal behavior.” It’s hard to imagine a more blatantly unconstitutional act than that.

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  • dingojack

    More Cornelius Sulla*, really.

    😉 Dingo

    ———

    * or perhaps Gaius Marius…

  • John Pieret

    It just goes to show that all the right wing angst over Obama becoming a dictator is just because they know that’s what they’d do, given half a chance.

  • Loqi

    So the military will be using force coerce the people into giving them more money and power. Yeah, that seems like the behavior of a working democracy.

    Also, or else what? Say All Franken walks out. What is the military going to do? Shoot him? Yeah, right.

  • eric

    As Vox noted, “There is no universe in which this is remotely legal behavior.”

    Fortunately, there is almost no universe in which Graham as President is remotely likely. Also there is no universe in which this is not mere political bluster, grandstanding.

  • eamick

    What’s more, he’s a lawyer and a reservist member of the Air Force JAG Corps. Is he out of his mind, or just stupid?

  • parasiteboy

    I were president of the United States. I wouldn’t let Congress leave town until we fix this.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t there been more days off when Republicans hold the House or Senate then when the Democrats have?

    Also, I guess his appearance in NH was too important to stay in DC to “fix” things.

  • Sastra

    This is the sort of “government” demanded by people who think national problems are simple and best solved by Daddy coming downstairs and telling the kids what’s what and to knock off all the squabbling. No, you don’t have to be a theist to be this simple-minded and authoritarian, but it probably helps.

  • Loqi

    No, you don’t have to be a theist to be this simple-minded and authoritarian, but it probably helps.

    Oh, come now, Sastra, that’s totally unfair.

    It could be the other way around.

  • Freodin

    This was just a lighthearted attempt at humour, don’tchaknow, and when he said “literally” he didn’t literally mean “literally”.

    Come on, folks, we all know that only the liberals are capable of establishing a dictatorship in America, by forcing people to have healthcare and such.

  • magistramarla

    I agree with Dingojack. President Obama makes me think much more of Caesar – the guy who was supposed to return to Rome to serve his time as consul but was obstructed by the arrogant Roman senators who feared that his policies would cost them money.

    I often wondered how different Roman history would have been if the senate had not been obstructionists and Caesar had simply returned to Rome and served out his year as consul.

    I always had to convince my students that Julius Caesar was NOT the first Roman Emperor. His nephew, Augustus Caesar (also known as Octavian) was the first emperor. Had Caesar served his time as consul and retired to a nice governorship, I doubt whether Octavian would have risen to power, and the Republic might have limped along longer.

  • http://raisinghellions.wordpress.com/ Lou “Weegee” Doench,

    I believe that this is how that ends…

    https://youtu.be/7FvgP5hO99o

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    He was joking. President Graham wouldn’t need to use the military to force Congress to undo the Democrat party’s massive Defense cuts, on account of disagreeing with a Republican president being treason.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    magistramarla @ # 10: Had Caesar served his time as consul and retired to a nice governorship…

    Per Adrian Goldsworthy’s Caesar: Life of a Colossus, JC evidently intended to move on with military campaigns, perhaps starting with subduing rebellion in the Balkans and then getting serious with Persia. I have some major doubts that he would have done as well in those arenas as he did in Gaul, but – given his undeniable talents as an imperator – clearly Rome would have taken a radically different course had Caesar survived his sojourn at the Senate.

  • dingojack

    Maybe he might have got a ‘bloody nose’ in Persia and then moved on to Germania?

    Dingo

  • wreck

    And if that doesn’t work, he promised to hold his breath until he turns blue, then run away and join the circus.

  • Loqi

    This was just a lighthearted attempt at humour, don’tchaknow, and when he said “literally” he didn’t literally mean “literally”.

    Wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what Graham’s spokesman said.

    http://benswann.com/were-lindsey-grahams-military-remarks-intended-to-be-humorous/

    Also, his exploratory committee is called “Security Through Strength.” Is he running for the presidency of the Brotherhood of Nod or something?

  • dingojack

    wreck – surely they’ve enough clowns by now.

    Dingo

  • kenn

    Hmmm…Seems to me someone else once used the military to get his way. What was his name again?

    Oh, yeah…Adolf Godwin or something like that. Gee, maybe Graham could have someone accidentally set fire to the Reichstag Capitol building. That’ll show ’em!

  • Georgia Sam

    So President Graham uses the military to imprison Congress, & Congress impeaches him & removes him from office. What then? Obviousy he hasn’t thought this thing through very well

  • raven

    to force Congress to reverse cuts to the defense and intelligence budgets.

    1. Huh??? What??? A few weeks ago, the GOP was going to defund Homeland Security, which…gathers intelligence.

    2. What is LIndsey Graham going to use for money? The modest cuts to defense were due to the fact that the US has been running huge deficits since Bush cut taxes long ago.

    If they want or need a larger defense budget, they should raise taxes to fund it.

    3. It’s a myth and lie that the GOP is fiscally conservative.

    The Democrats are supposedly the party of tax and spend. The GOP is the party of cut taxes and spend wildly.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    Because nothing says “Freedom and democracy!” quite like a military coup.

    What I want to know is, when can we FINALLY start charging these bastards with sedition?

  • brucegee1962

    I’m reasonably willing to believe that, to anyone in the audience at the event, this could have come across as a joke.

    But Graham should have been enough of a seasoned politician to realize that most people who became aware of his remarks would not be sitting in the audience at the event.

    One of the few reasonable justifications for the clown shows that are Iowa and New Hampshire in these years is that they do a good job of weeding out the people who just aren’t ready for a bigger stage.

  • velociraptor

    @ Pierce, Dingo

    Persia had been conquered by Alexander the Great, and the area was under control of the Parthian Kingdom in Caesar’s time. The Parthians had recently eliminated Caesar’s fellow triumvir. Marcus Licinius Crassus.

    /pedant

  • Childermass

    “Republic might have limped along longer.”

    The Republic was already on its deathbed. It only a matter of how it was to die and how many would die in the process. The simple reality was that Republic was utterly worthless once Rome became a world power if the criteria was sensible and peaceful administration both at home and abroad. I am sure that a Republic could work, but not the one Rome had. Can you imagine Consul Boehner and Consul Obama both having equal power forever reversing each other’s orders. Imagine a system where if you physically keep an official away then they can’t do a thing. And of course the precedent for using violence for political ends had been well established.

    “More Cornelius Sulla*, really.”

    How about Marcus Licinius Crassus? He was a great advocate of free enterprise like having a private fire department that put out fires only one the owner sold the property for next to nothing. He was great at keeping down large groups of people who get uppity (like Spartacus). He also like starting wars for his own glory and was terminated by the Parthians who allegedly defiled his corpse by pouring gold down’s its throat as a means of explaining what they thought of him. (Some versions say that is how they executed him.)

  • abb3w

    There at least seems a marginally interesting question there — does the President’s Article II Section 3 authority to call the houses of Congress into session grant him the authority to keep the members there in session, trumping the Article I Section 6 privilege of the members from arrest when returning from congressional session to their states? My tentative conclusion is that the straightforward answer would be that it seems a political question — and that therefore, yes, the president may do so, but is fundamentally checked by the corresponding political authority of the House and Senate to convert that compelled session to summary impeachment proceedings over the violation of that privilege. If Graham had support of more than 1/2 the house and 3/5 the senate, the stunt would be unnecessary; and if he were that high-handed, he’d probably rapidly get pissed off the required 1/2 house and 2/3 senate necessary for his removal. As it seems unlikely he’d start with more than 2/3 of the house supporting him, he’d at most be able to force them in session only as long as it would take to piss off 70 representatives and 26 senators of his own party. Call it two weeks, tops.

    It seems the sort of expression macho dominance that seems likely to appeal to high-RWA and high-SDO protofascist types for election voting, but daring to attempt it in practice would spectacularly backfire.

  • grumpyoldfart

    Sounds like he’s touting for donations to his campaign fund. Once he has skimmed most of the cash into his own pocket he can (sadly) withdraw from the race.

  • dingojack

    velociraptor – .. and unicorns farts smell of spearmint! (Oh I’m sorry I thought this was the non sequitur thread). @@

    Childermass – “He was great at keeping down large groups of people who get uppity (like Spartacus).”

    Except he didn’t, he simply muscled in on the end game.

    Also, when did Crassus the general, march the all the armies under his sole command on Rome?

    Dingo

  • http://onhandcomments.blogspot.com/ left0ver1under

    “Goes Full Julius Caesar”

    Should we really be saying that, the day after the Ides of March?

    An kneejerk extremist like Graham might take it as a threat (read: deliberately misconstrue it).

  • lorn

    Obama could easily restore any defense cuts. All he has to do is declare he is against restoring them.

    It is entirely predictable that Graham would go unconstitutional and propose such an egregious abuse of power. The GOP has been accusing Obama of doing it and the congress has spent the last six years hating on him for the crimes he largely hasn’t even contemplated. The general rule is that people tend to become whatever they focus on. After six years of intense hating on Obama his mind is capable of of thinking of little else but abuses of power. And, also entirely predictably, Graham will use the mythology of Obama’s abuse of power to justify his own.